Foreign Laborer


Russia/Tajikistan, 2002. 52 min. Color. Video
In Russian
Directed: Mairam Iusupova
Written: Mairam Iusupova
Camera: Evgenii Kokusev, Georgii Dzalaev, Zirkie Israilov, Mark Levenberg

For this, her most recent, documentary film, Tajik director Mairam Iusupova chooses a problematic that is as frequently treated in contemporary Central Asian cinema, as it is unavoidable: the consequences brought about in the present by the dissolution of the imperial geography—political, economic, and cultural—of the not so distant Soviet past. The particular story Iusupova tells is that of itinerant workers forced to leave their native Tajikistan and search for a job across the border, in Russia. The story line in the film is charted—not surprisingly—by a journey, as the narrative follows two Tajik youths on their trip from Dushanbe to Moscow. This journey in the present is bound to evoke in the viewer memories of the archetypal pilgrimage of Soviet times: from the still-developing periphery—to the advanced and prosperous center. The dynamic of the film is generated between these two trajectories: the unwilling separation from home and family and the impossible separation from the communal past. It is, indeed, the very idea of the communal that commands most anxious attention in the filmic story. The imaginary multinational community of the Soviet empire, the local ethnic communities in Tajikistan, the immigrant community of Tajiks in Moscow—these are the visions of sociality the film traverses, in order to find them—each in its own way—inhospitable.


Mairam Iusupova was born in Dushanbe. Graduate of the school for film directors at VGIK, she began work in documentary cinema in 1989. Since then, she has authored more than 30 documentary films. She has also directed two feature films: Window [Окно; 1989] and The Time of the Yellow Grass [Врeмя жeлтой травы; 1991]. Since 1992 lives in Moscow.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.