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Respect must be mutual

Sputniknews.kz, in a report entitled “Казахстанские режиссеры поддерживают налог на прокат голливудских фильмов” – “Kazakh filmmakers support a levy on the exhibition of Hollywood movies” and published on 23 July 2017, quoted Satybaldy Narymbetov, a well-known Kazakh film director and screenwriter, as saying: “Foreign movie makers have been earning their income in our country. The same can be said about foreign singers. The people here mostly do not go watch musical performances by their own entertainers. But if there is a popular pop singer from Russia, everyone goes watch”.

The question arouse whether we, in turn, can expect to see Kazakhstani film makers and singers as of any interest to the public abroad – in Russia and, say, other CIS countries. Maybe there is some kind of such interest. You don’t even have to be an expert to accept the obviousness of the following situation.
Kazakh cinema, like Kazakh culture in general, cannot nurture the hope of attracting quite considerable interest from the public in Russia. Even in the Soviet times, when the cinema, as such, enjoyed far more attention and achieved much more success, than nowadays, movies, produced by the Almaty-based Kazakhfilm, had never been counted among the highest grossing ones. But it’s not because they were worse than other films. It’s just that cultural attitudes established in this part of Eurasia are such that this is the custom there to admire the cultural achievements of those nations lying not to the east, but to the west of your own country. To illustrate this point, we’ll give you an example. The famous Russian pop singer Alla Pugacheva, who has remained a real favorite of the USSR/CIS audience of approximately 300 million listeners, for more than 40 years, was not and has not been similarly successful in, for example, Warsaw and Prague. Because Warsawians and Pragueans obviously do not feel very high regards for Russian pop music. And besides, Poles and Czechs have ambiguous feelings about Russian culture, at least, considering the fact that they, as Roman Catholics, feel themselves a part of the West. Artem (Artemiy or Artemy) Troitsky, a well-known Russian journalist, music critic, concert promoter, and broadcaster, once said: “Talk of Alla Pugacheva, Philip Kirkorov and Alsu getting a full house in Europe, doesn’t make any sense!”.
In turn, Russians along with Ukrainians and Byelorussians, as well as Georgians, Moldovans, etc, are used to perceiving the cultures of the peoples of Central Asia, and especially those of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan natives, as something not worth much noticing, to say the very least. But – at least, so far – that is what it is. And as the saying goes, “You can’t force someone to love”. We hope that such a conclusion will not be regarded by them as an effort to make ourselves quite distinctive from others in the post-Soviet world. We’re just talking about the existing reality.
It therefore seemed unreasonable to wonder why the Kazakh pop singers are not being invited to come on tour not only to Moscow and St. Petersburg, but even to the Russian regions bordering Kazakhstan by Russia’s show business tycoons, while not only the Russian entertainers, but also the Ukrainian, Georgian and Latvian ones (Rotaru, Kikabidze, Meladze, Vaikule, etc.) have been actively and successfully staging guest performances throughout the territory of Russia, as well as Kazakhstan.
There isn’t much to tell. It’s a pretty familiar story. There is something else worth wondering: why do we not mind the fact that our admiration for the Ukrainian, Georgian and Latvian etc. entertainers is far from being mutual. After all, the obviousness of this state of affairs cannot be overlooked.
Our Kazakhstani – I refer in the first place to our Kazakh – entertainers and singers are hardly being invited with the similar warmth and kindness to come on tour to Ukraine, Georgia, Latvia and other CIS republics feeling themselves a part of Europe. There is little room to be hopeful with regard to such a welcoming. And we all are well aware of that.

Aziz AYHAN


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