Kazakh cinema and the nation: a critical analysis

Kamza, Assel (2021) Kazakh cinema and the nation: a critical analysis. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Nation building is the process in question. This process is, as a rule, complicated in diverse countries, such as Kazakhstan. As a post-Soviet nation, it is still not sure how to define itself in the country and in the outside world. The crisis of the Kazakh identity is compromised by the manifold ethnic groups and cultures, juxtaposed by the clashes of Kazakh and Russian languages and different identities. In this regard, the role of cinema in the need for cultural certainty and the systematisation of national identity cannot be underestimated. Film is one way of offering knowledge of the nation to itself. Through cinema it is possible to imagine the history of the nation and construct modernity and to rebuild the nation.
The current study investigates Kazakh cinema in transition. This thesis, for the first-time, provides an assessment of Kazakh cinema production after the adoption of the new Cinema Law (2019) and the Eurasia International Film Festival (EurIFF) within a nation-building context. Also, little work using a theoretical framework has been done on the relationship between Kazakh film and nation building within the wider discussion of nationalism. This thesis adds to this small body of work by addressing Kazakh cinema’s role in nation building.

Through the analysis of Kazakh films framed through Anthony Smith’s ethno-symbolism concept, this thesis will look at how Kazakhstan is trying to define itself through cinema, how Kazakh films aid the country to reconstruct itself. In order to critically analyse the current Kazakh cinema landscape, this thesis has adopted a qualitative approach, utilising semi-structured interviews with 30 participants residing in the Kazakhstani cities of Almaty and Nur-Sultan.
After carrying out my research in relation to the literature on nationalism and film studies, the analysis of the data establishes four primary themes. Firstly, I investigate Kazakh film policy, focusing on the way the Cinema Law may reshape the film industry in the country. Secondly, I consider the significance of the Eurasia International Film Festival (EurIFF) as well as the unusual challenges that this state-run festival had to face in order to organise itself effectively. The third theme explores the curation and programming of the festival, examining the festival’s approach to its audience and palette of films. Finally, in the fourth theme I demonstrate the influence of the film industry on both Kazakh cinema and the EurIFF with respect to image building.

Today, not many countries have successful cases of nation building through films. Kazakhstan is no exception. I conclude that Kazakh cinema and film policy is situated in between the discords of the old system (Kazakhfilm) and the new (the State Centre for Support of National Cinema). This thesis shows that the impact of Kazakh cinema on nation building is limited. Ultimately, I argue that if Kazakhstan had a stronger business-oriented approach to film policy, both domestic and international markets would be more reachable. As a result, cinematic nation building in Kazakhstan would be more successful.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Kazakhstan, cinema, nation, film and nation, Kazakh cinema, Kazakh films, nation building, cinema and nation building, Eurasian International Film Festival, EurIFF, film festivals.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Culture and Creative Arts
Supervisor's Name: Schlesinger, Professor Philip and Whitaker, Dr. Lynn
Date of Award: 2021
Depositing User: Miss Assel Kamza
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-82200
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 20 May 2021 08:23
Last Modified: 01 Dec 2022 11:15
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82200
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/82200

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