Where’s Your Home, Snail?

[Где твой дом, улитка?]

Kyrgyzstan. 1992. 74 min. Color
Russian and Kyrgyz Dialogue
Director: Aktan Abdykalykov
Scriptwriters: Larisa Evgen'eva
Camera: Khasan Kydyraliev
Artistic directors: Talgat Asyrankulov
Music: Aleksandr Iurtaev
Sound: Bakyt Niiazaliev
Stars: Lola Soboleva and Tursun Omurkanov

As in many of Aktan Abdykalykov's films (e.g., Beshkempir, The Swing, and Monkey) adolescents star in Where's Your Home, Snail? Tursun, a high school student, transfers to a new school when he leaves his mother's house in order to live with and take care of his alcoholic father. The theme of drunk fathers is also common throughout Abdykalykov's films; here it functions to demonstrate the effect that drunkenness has on innocent children. Embarrassed by his stumbling father, Tursun attempts to hide his family life. Forced to be financially independent, the young protagonist sells roosters at the market and enters his own bird into a cockfighting competition. At school, he acts indifferently to authority and takes over as the outspoken class rebel. However, Tursun's rigid, self-assured, and macho exterior disintegrates in front of Era, his classmate and first love. Only Era, who responds compassionately to his angry outbursts, rightly identifies Tursun's behavior as resulting from his emotional pain.

Abdykalykov successfully crafts what otherwise could be a simple and even trite love story. By combining color and black and white film, switching into slow motion, and creative use of soundtrack, the emotional worlds of the young protagonists are reflected in the film's visual and auditory aesthetic systems. For example, scenes featuring the emotionally abusive drunk father or the physically violent cockfights are shot in black and white. Tursun's frustrated screams echo suggesting the depth of his pain and his own sense of isolation. Also, Abdykalykov employs images of the natural world, and especially animals, as parallels to various characters: for instance, Era's kind and loyal dog mimics her own devotion to Tursun. Later in the film, Tursun and Era find and save a small fish that mysteriously escaped the river and ended up in an inhospitable puddle. The act of returning the fish to a safe environment symbolically refers to Era's attempts to help Tursun out of his emotionally and physically dangerous surroundings. It is with Era that Tursun comes out of his shell; together find the friendship, empathy, and emotional support necessary to get through adolescence.

Aktan Abdykalykov

Aktan Abdykalykov was born in 1957 in the village of Kountouou, in the Sakoulou, region of Kyrgyzstan. Abdykalykov makes the following comments about his career: "In my work intuition helps me most of all. I did not have academic directorial training; I came to directing through practice, therefore it is necessary to depend on my innermost feeling." From 1976 until 1980 he studied at the Kyrgyz State School for the Arts. Beginning in 1980 he worked as the art director at Kygyzfilm Studios. In 1990 he made his debut as a filmmaker with the short documentary Le Chien qui court (1990). Abdykalykov has won substantial international recognition (for specific awards refer to the filmography below).

1990 Le Chien qui court
1992 Where's Your Home, Snail? Jury's Prize at the International Film Festival at Ashgabat (Turkmenistan)
1993 La Balançoire (short) Grand Prize in the category of short films at The International Film Festival in Lokarno (Switzerland)
1995 Besh-terek (documentary)

1996

Six public service commercials funded by the Soros Foundation
1997 Hassan-Hussen (short) Grand Prize at the International Festival of Film Shorts in Sienna (Italy)
1998 The Adopted Son (Beshkempir) The "Silver Leopard" at The International Film Festival in Lokarno (Switzerland); The "Don Quixote" prize at the International Association of Film Clubs; Grand Prize at the "Eurasia" International Film Festival in Almati (Kazakhstan)
2001 Assan-Oussen
2000 The Bus Stop Grand Prize at Kinoshok (Russia); 2nd place at The International Film Festival in Kottbus (Germany)
2001 Monkey (Maimyl) Honorable Mention at Cannes



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