Kazakh filmmaker Emir Baigazin, whose earlier film, "Harmony Lessons", won a Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for its artistic contribution, deals again, in his own rigorous style, with family life, focusing on five young brothers who lead secluded lives under the strict watch of their controlling father, until the boys are accidentally brought face to face with the modern world, a discovery that threatens to disrupt their way of life forever. Set on a parched landscape, next to a nearby river revealed to the boys only when they stumble past it one day, this intimate, almost wordless image of a patriarchal home, is observed in its smallest details, each frame practically a museum piece, with sounds rounding out this introspective, meticulous portrait. The boys play in the courtyard of their modest house, do chores, or sometimes fail to do them, as their father points out severely, while the pastoral daily rhythms of a family isolated from the modern world unfold on the screen. The boys talk sometimes of rebellion but their anger is calmed by the river. And then into their remote corner of the world, comes a long-haired boy in city clothes, riding a hoverboard, carrying an iPad, and asking if their family owns a TV. The rural values embodied by the patriarch suddenly confront the 21st century.
Emir Baigazin was born in the province of Aktobe, Kazakhstan. He studied at the T. Akhtanov Aktobe Drama Theater and the Kazakh National Academy of Arts, specializing in film direction and cinema. His films as director include the shorts Steppe (2007) and Virgins (2007), and the features Harmony Lessons (2013) and The Wounded Angel (2016). The River (2018) is his latest film.