Kazakhstan, France, Germany | 2016 | 112 mins | Kazakh | Indian Premiere | Producer Attending
Set in the mid-1990s, on the dusty steppes of economically depressed post-Soviet Kazakhstan, The Wounded Angel tells the stories of four 13-year-old boys and their lost childhoods. Zharas hauls sacks of flour for a local merchant to provide for his family and turns resentful when his father returns from prison, carrying the shame of a convicted thief. Chick has the voice of an angel and is preparing to sing in a contest—whilst trying to avoid the violence and racketeering of his school’s bullies. Scavenging for scrap in factories and sewer tunnels, Toad encounters three deranged young boys who show him hidden treasure in an abandoned plant. Finally, Aslan, a gifted student planning to study medicine, assists his girlfriend in getting an abortion, the aftershock of which sends him slowly mad. Director Emir Baigazin draws performances of quiet, unsettling intensity from his non-professional cast, whilst his camera’s gaze is detached, unblinking and bereft.
Born in 1984 in Alga Province, Kazakhstan, Emir Baigazin studied film direction at the Kazakh National Academy of Arts in Almaty. His short films include Steppe (2007) and Virgins (2007). The Wounded Angel is the second part of a trilogy that began with Harmony Lessons (2013). Discussing both films, Emir says “Adolescence is simply the filter through which I can focus on moral dilemmas and internal conflicts … The inner self of a 13-year-old works like a magnifying glass. Each of the characters of the film could take over this sentence from Lord of the Flies by William Golding: ‘Since no one will come for us and we’ll have to live here forever, then we can no longer live as children.’ Something was broken inside the conscience of these teenagers, and a new set of values emerges from it.”