Indira, a university tutor in Almaty, decides to move to London in search of a fresh start. On her last day, however, she is struck by an unexpected, overwhelming emotion.
Over the next 15 minutes, viewers accompany Indira as she embarks on an introspective journey, wandering from one farewell party to another, briefly passing by her apartment to pack her bags. Throughout, Indira is mostly quiet, contemplative, and detached from the social gatherings she finds herself in. Evoking the feeling of uncertainty, the film’s tense, startling photography gives the audience the chance to read her mind, as she ponders on where she is heading. The film closes with a fitting panoramic view of Almaty — a last look at what she is leaving behind.
The plot is semi-autobiographical. Zhannat Alshanova, the director, was born and raised in Kazakhstan. One day, she decided to leave behind her career in business and marketing, and the oil and gas company she was working for, to study at the London Film School. Since then, her short films have screened at festivals around the world.
History of Civilisation is screening as part of The Calvert Journal Film Festival on 24-25 October. Get your tickets here. On Thursday 28 October, we will be speaking to director Zhannat Alshanova in an Instagram Live event at 5pm UK time, on the theme of migration in Central Asian cinema.