Synopsis by Sandra Brennan
This somber drama comes from Kirghiz (formerly part of the Soviet Union) and is based on a locally popular novel that looks at the destruction of traditional life-styles and the country's environment. The tale is set beside the immense dried-up basin that once held the Aral Sea, a water body that disappeared when humans destroyed its ecosystem. Sitting upon its sandy floor are the gigantic carcasses of the great ships that once sailed upon it. The people living upon the shores of the defunct sea struggle to survive and their plight is present in both the present and back in the 1950s (signified by black and white photography) when Stalinism began to destroy their old ways. In the present Kasangap, an important figure among the Saryosek people native to the area dies. His best friend Edigej wants to bury him in the traditional burial ground. Unfortunately, a military base is now located there and they refuse to grant permission to inter him there. Still as Edigej heads out to the sight, he remembers back to the '50s when Stalin's regime infiltrated their land and began stealing their culture.