Schizo

Please note: the repeat screening of Part 2 of Evolution of a Filipino Family has been cancelled. That film will still be shown in its entirety on Saturday, March 19.

(Shiza). A slack-jawed teenager and his drunken uncle take on the assorted mafiosi of Central Asia-including the kid's mother's boyfriend-in this grungy directorial debut from Kazakhstan's Guka Omarova, the scriptwriter of Sergey Bodrov's Sisters. “Schizo” is blank-faced Mustafa's nickname, but schizophrenia isn't exactly his problem; he's actually rather single-minded in his inability (or unwillingness) to connect with anyone, even after being befriended by his mother's lover, Sakura. A low-level cog in the local mafia brigade, Sakura schools Mustafa to recruit unemployed men for illegal bare-knuckled boxing matches. Underlining the short, brutish and well-pummeled life that awaits him, these matches also introduce Mustafa to a lonely boxer's widow, and reintroduce him to his vodka-addled uncle Zhaken. Half everyone else's size, Zhaken still wants the boxing prize, even if it sets Mustafa against Sakura, and the mob. Blending actors and non-professionals (she discovered lead Olzhas Nusuppaev in an orphanage), Omarova crafts a work colored with the gentle naturalism of a Mahkmalbaf or Kiarostami, yet dominated by a strangeness all its own. Kyrgyz cinematographer Khasanbek Kydryaliyev captures the ghostly beauty of the film's devastated Central Asian landscape, a post-communist, pre-capitalist realm of abandoned homes and broken-down machines, a voided terrain disowned by every culture, yet-as the mixed-race faces of Schizo's actors attest-created by all.

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