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Top 20 Alternative Picks for Cannes 2012: Darezhan Omirbayev’s Student

Student – Darezhan Omirbayev

Buzz: Really, anytime there’s a new Kazakh film it’s reason to pay attention; the country doesn’t produce that much, and when they do it tends to be pretty damn noteworthy. The last significant film from Kazakhstan (no, it wasn’t Borat) came four years ago in the form of Tulpan. A year earlier, Darezhan Omirbayev’s previous film Chouga placed on Cahier du cinema’s top ten of 2010 (it played in Un Certain Regard in 2007, but this is the year it finally got released in France). So it’s pretty easy to see why project is being unveiled with a relatively unprecedented level of momentum for the under-appreciated filmmaker.

The Gist: Said to be “a modern retelling of Dostoyevsky’s epic novel Crime and Punishment set against the backdrop of contemporary Kazakhstan.” For those unfamiliar with the seminal novel or have yet to see any of its many film adaptations (most recently, Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park), it “focuses on the mental anguish and moral dilemmas an impoverished ex-student in St. Petersburg who formulates and executes a plan to kill an unscrupulous pawnbroker for her cash.”

Blake Williams is an avant-garde filmmaker born in Houston, currently living and working in Toronto. He recently entered the PhD program at University of Toronto's Cinema Studies Institute, and has screened his video work at TIFF (2011 & '12), Tribeca (2013), Images Festival (2012), Jihlava (2012), and the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley. Blake has contributed to's coverage for film festivals such as Cannes, TIFF, and Hot Docs. Top Films From Contemporary Film Auteurs: Almodóvar (Talk to Her), Coen Bros. (Fargo), Dardennes (Rosetta), Haneke (Code Unknown), Hsiao-Hsien (Flight of the Red Balloon), Kar-wai (Happy Together), Kiarostami (Where is the Friend's Home?), Lynch (INLAND EMPIRE), Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs), Van Sant (Last Days), Von Trier (The Idiots)


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