Zhat / Stranger / 2015

Over 5 000 000 Kazakhs have been died of hunger, killed in battles and other adversities in the first half of 20th century.

A slave is not the one captured and shackled in chains 

but the one who dares not to think of living without it


This film is contemplation about Freedom. We take one separate man’s fate as a basis. This man is a shepherd. The times are hard: 1930s – 1940s. Kazakh steppe is scourged by famine, wasteland, collectivization and war… These are just the times that test people’s humanity. However many of them fail this test.


The story begins in the steppes of 1930s Kazakhstan, where little Ilyas lives with his father amidst the ravages of famine and the terrorizing collectivization imposed by the Soviet Union. Orphaned by the systematic purge that took his father away in the dead of night, Ilyas escapes to the mountains. There, he turns his back on progress, taking up with a pack of wolves and choosing to live according to ancestral ways. Yet he remains watchful of the changes occurring down below.

His chosen way of life, his ever-growing longing for villager Kamshut, and the rising dominance of Soviet modernity will prove to be the sources of Ilyas’ lifelong struggle.

Screenplay, directed by Yermek Tursunov

Producer – Kanat Torebay

DOP – Murat Aliyev

Art Director – Alexander Rorokin

Sound Designer – Sergey Lobanov

Composer – Kuat Shildebayev

Editor – Galymzhan Sanbayev

Casting Director – Zhanna Kuanysheva


Yerzhan Nurymbet

Elina Abay Kyzy

Kuandyk Kystykbayev

Alexander Karpov

Roza Khairullina


  • Toronto International Film Festival — Contemporary World Cinema;
  • Eurasia International Film Festival – Official Selection — BEST MALE ACTOR;
  • Tallin BLACK NIGHTS International FIlm Festival – BEST ASIAN FILM — NETPAC award ;
  • APSA – Asian Pacific Screen Awards — nominations: BEST DIRECTOR, BEST DOP;
  • London Asia House Film Festival — Opening Film;
  • Kazakhstan’s entry — Academy Awards Best Foreign Language Film;
  • Golden Globe entry.