New East Cinema: Harmony Lessons (Emir Baigazin, 2013)

We are delighted to announce the next film as part of New East Cinema, our programme of contemporary cinema from the new east in partnership with the Barbican Centre curated by The New Social.

The screening will open with a filmed introduction by director Emir Baigazin and will be followed by a ScreenTalk with film scholar Eugénie Zvonkine.

Harmony Lessons

Kazakhstan / Germany, 2013, dir. Emir Baigazin

Aslan, an intelligent and scientifically-minded 13-year-old boy living with his grandmother, is a new student in a high crime rate village school in Kazakhstan. Humiliated during a routine medical examination by the school gang leader Bolat, Aslan becomes the prime target and victim of the bullying that, it quickly becomes apparent, is endemic to the entire school system. Things go from bad to worse, until one day Aslan decides to take action against Bolat.

With outstanding performances from a largely non-professional young cast, Harmony Lessons is an idiosyncratic take on a universally topical story – of how an environment of dehumanising bullying and violence can turn smart teenagers into ostracised figures.

Among the awards the film has received, it was nominated for a Golden Bear and was awarded the Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution in Cinematography at the 2013 Berlinale Film Festival, and was awarded Best New Narrative Director – Special Jury Mention at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival.

About New East Cinema

New East Cinema is a bi-monthly film series curated by The New Social, presented by Calvert 22 in collaboration with the Barbican Centre, which looks across Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Russia and Central Asia to uncover the most thought-provoking, daring and vibrant cinema coming from today’s “New East”.

The series goes in search of filmmakers who are not only redefining the cinematic language of their respective countries, but are asking what this “post-Soviet” or “post-socialist” landscape may look like and what legacy it bears. Whether surreal, outright fantastical, outlandish or sobering, these films share a hunger for personal and authentic storytelling and ways of seeing.