Harvest Moon

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Harvest Moon

Directed by Zaheed Mawani

  • Kyrgyzstan, Canada 2018; 70 min
  • Original version: Kyrgyz
  • Genre: Documentary
    • Intangible Heritage Award - Cinéma Du Réel
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Between two massifs in Kyrgyzstan’s Arslanbob mountains, Bolot Tagaev and his family are preparing for the annual walnut harvest in the local forest. All are attending to their daily business in this small patriarchal community. “They told you not to look at the camera!”, the grandmother tells her husband. This introduces the gentle humour that runs throughout HARVEST MOON, which is mindful of filming people in their living space, often using static shots with no cuts. On a vigil deep in the forest, the film’s ethnographic dimension shifts. The exquisite images crackle with stories and myths that explain the etymology of a place name or Alexander the Great’s memorable crossing. An ecosystem threatened by increasing devastation and the growing frequency of sterling wood ahead of winter, the Kyrgyz forest appears not only as a natural resource but also as an imagined territory. “You’ll dream of the forest!” says the mother to her daughter on the eve of their departure. The mountains lace together moments of storytelling and work with an organic fluidity. A way of life that could appear timeless has been impacted by the recent past of the Soviet period, and Muslim prayers commingle with the story of the rich ancestor dispossessed by the Revolution.