31/10/2019 18:27 (UTC)


Award-winning Kazakh actress Samal Yeslyamova aims for the heart with "Ayka"

Barcelona, ??Spain, Oct 30 (EFE).- Kazakh actress Samal Yeslyamova, who earned international recognition and a best-actress award in Cannes last year for her role in the film Ayka, said on Wednesday before the start of the Asian Film Festival in Barcelona that cinema must aim “at the heart of the public in order to break down the barriers of countries."

"It doesn't matter if a movie is made in one country or another, the decisive thing is that you have to make good films that reach the hearts of the spectators and then the barriers no longer matter," Yeslyamova said in an interview with Efe before the screening of Ayka at the festival organized by Casa Asia in this northeastern Spanish city.

Kazakh director Sergei Dvortsevoy’s Ayka tells the story of a young woman who abandons her newborn in the hospital because of her dire economic situation: she has no job, no place to live and many debts.

"The script’s issue about a mother's relationship with a child interested me. When they offered me the role I was studying in Moscow and for two years it was very difficult to see my mother, who lives in Kazakhstan. That was motivation that was very present in the interpretation," the actress said.

Yeslyamova noted that although she did not reflect her love for her mother in the film, she used it to "convey the idea of ??the relationship between a mother and child to make the acting as natural as possible."

She said the greatest difficulty in maintaining that naturalness was "maintaining the same weight, the same hair and not sunbathing in order to be pale for the six years that the film project lasted."

Another of the film’s underlying themes is the plight of undocumented migrants in Russia, mostly from Central Asia.

Yeslyamova praised Dvortsevoy for doing "a fantastic job interviewing and researching the migrants, and at every moment of filming they checked for facts and talked with the migrants who live there.”

Despite the hardships shown in the film, Yeslyamova said Dvortsevoy has acknowledged that he did not show in the film all the hardness of that life.

“I agree with the director,” Yeslyamova said. "There were situations much worse than what is seen in the movie."

Yeslyamova said the script begins with a statistic in Russia that "some two hundred women had fled from the hospitals where they had given birth and abandoned their newborn babies there."

The film star said she found it enriching to work with a cast in which the majority were not professional actors.

"We had to do a lot of takes, but you could not insist that they get it perfect because at the same time they were very natural, and you could tell that what they did was authentic, real."

She said braving the cold while the director waited for the snowy day he needed for a shot was one of the most difficult parts of the job.

The other was the tricky issue concerning the undocumented migrants acting in the film, she said.

“Appearing in the film put them at risk because they had no papers and could be deported.”

Winning the prize in Cannes has definitely changed her life, she said.

“Now I have more recognition in Kazakhstan and other countries, and proposals to make films or do theater abroad, including Europe, have begun to arrive.”

Yeslyamova said she was negotiating a part next year in three films, all outside Kazakhstan.

But she is quick to point out that the Kazakh film industry is living one of its finest moments.

"Many films are made there, and many Kazakh films are shown at international film festivals. Proof of this is that six Kazakh films are being shown at Barcelona’s Asian Film Festival."


"Yes, of course it is wonderful for me, because the presentation started at 8pm and although it is quite late many people have come and the cinema was full, and the interest they showed towards the film. I like this a lot."

"Yes, I think they will understand. Although the subject is very hard, but it is about life and human feelings and human feelings are universal."

"Of course it is important, because we made this film about a real person with real feelings, about a situation that can happen to a person. And as I said, this story is universal and can reach the hearts of everybody."

"Yes, right now we are negotiating three projects for next year, that are also international and God willing, I hope everything goes well. And I would like to thank the festival organizers. I am very happy to have come here and for the opportunity of seeing this wonderful city with my own eyes."

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