The Kyrgyz documentary film “Long Distance love” was filmed by Swedish team Magnus Gerttenom and Ellen Jonsson. The film is based on real events and was filmed over two years. Film premiere was held at the “private show” Kyrgyz Cultural Center.

The film narrates about the fate of Alisher Sultanov, a resident of Osh city (in Southern Kyrgyzstan), forced to go to Russia to earn money to feed his young family.

Alisher on the train to Moscow

The train to Moscow

As noted by the organizer of the “closed show” Nazira Rayymkulova, the value of the film is to reflect the peaceful life of the city of Osh, and the peaceful coexistence of two ethnicities in the city before the international conflicts enflamed in June 2010 of Osh city. Filming was completed in 2007.

“This is the story of the Kyrgyz citizen, immigrant, which is the amazing coincidence, turned out to be an Uzbek,” added Nazira Rayymkulova.

In addition to paintings of peaceful life in the city, the film concerns a set of social problems, the key of which is unemployment in Kyrgyzstan.

Total unemployment according to the national survey conducted in 2008 in Kyrgyzstan is 8.2 percent. Since then, according to experts, the situation has only got worse, due to a sharp deterioration in the global economy and unstable political situation in the country, which influenced the outflow of investments from Kyrgyzstan.

The film’s main character, Alisher, comes from a family with average income. His father is a photographer with unstable income and alcohol addiction. Alisher’s mother is a housewife, supporting the family budget with small jobs at home, such as clothing repairs.

Alisher’s family has problems that are typical for most families in Kyrgyzstan. At the urging of his family, a young man marries a girl of his own choice – Dildora. Marriage carries with increasing demands and the need to Alisher go to work to feed his young wife and newborn child.

Dildora gazing out of the window

Dildora waits for her husband to return to Osh

Alisher is sent to work in Russia. The film presents statistical data on migration in Kyrgyzstan: “Every fourth person in the country is forced to leave in the near abroad to work.”

“Unfortunately, people often go for the illusion, and like Alisher, never gain wealth, but risk their lives,” said director Elnur Osmonalieva, organizer of the show.

In Russia, Alisher is faced with the problem of legal insecurity immigrants. His earnings from the labor barely cover the living costs in Moscow, he had to rent an apartment together with twenty other migrants.

Faced with discrimination and experiencing homesickness, Alisher dreams of returning home. However, the sense of responsibility towards his family and society do not give him the desire to translate into reality – he remains in Russia for hard-earned pennies. After a while Alisher learns that an employment agency, which had arranged his paperwork and sent him to Russia, “sold” him the illegal registration.

Migrants are often faced with similar problems, as most of them do not possess the education and cannot protect their rights.

While Alisher goes through various tests, his family also has a hard time. As a result of fraud by a family friend, the family is left without a roof over their head, and condemned by the community.

After futile efforts to make money, Alisher decides to return home. He is happy to see his firstborn son, and deeply aware of his love for his young wife. By the end of the movie, Alisher finds work at a construction site in Bishkek.

At this moment, the filmmakers do not know the fate of the heroes, as they lost contact with them during the events of June. Main characters of the film still do not know that motion picture “Distant Love” has received the “Golden Starfish” at the Hampton’s International Film Festival (USA).

Read more:
More Krgyz cinema: the film “Almaz” as a personification of Kyrgyzstan
Tajik migrant workers affected by the financial crisis
Stroll around a Kyrgyz bazaar

About the author

Nargiza is a journalism student at the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She has also studied in the USA as part of the Future Leaders Exchange programme. She speaks Kyrgyz, Russian and English.