Finding "Schizo"

in 57th Cannes Film Festival

by Dubravka Lakic

No one asked me whether I wished to participate in the large campaign of the US Democratic Party, and it seems to me that such a campaign was conducted at the 57th Cannes Film Festival. If they had asked me, perhaps I would have agreed. This way, I feel abused.

Furthermore, I was not informed that, instead of film aesthetics, film poets or film language, I would be discussing the political correctness or political incorrectness of films and that one of the more important criterion for evaluating the movies we had seen would be whether they directly “strike at the head” of the US president or not. If I had been informed about the new criteria, I would have prepared better. This way, I felt disappointed.

Fortunately, not for long as I decided to seek a cure for my disappointment at the projection of the last film competing for the “Camera d’Or”. Thus, quite by chance, I discovered “Schizo”. A small Kazakh-Russian film (86 min., 2004, color, 35 mm, Dolby Digital – Studio Kazakhfilm- Kazakhstan and the CTB Film Company-Russia in co-production with Le Petite Lumiers-France and Kinofabrika GMBH-Germany). A film noir made by young Guka Omarova who was the co-writer of “Sisters” by Sergey Bodrov Jr.

“Schizo” is a story about growing up, first love and betrayal, set in the milieu of welfare considerations and bare survival on the shores of the beautiful, but cruel Kazakh sea, as well as a story about Thai boxing. Or more precisely, about people compelled to fight.

The story focuses on a 15 year-old boy (Olzhas Nusuppaaev) whose nickname is an abbreviation of the word schizophrenia, a disease he is believed to have. Schizo is expelled from school for a cruel joke his classmates played on him. He is hired by his mother’s boy-friend (Eduard Tabyschev) to provide fighters for illegal fist fighting, but his life drastically changes when one of the men is killed in a fight. Schizo gives the dead man’s girlfriend (Olga Landina) what he had earned from the fight and finds himself attracted to her special beauty. Now he has someone to take care of, to earn money for, no matter what the cost may be. But in fist fighting there are no rules, or perhaps only one: until the first blood is spilt…

Omarova’s “Schizo” consists of tough-minded little pictures, the acting is first-class throughout the film, Landina and young Nusuppaev handle the potential love scenes very sensitively, while the brutality of the fights and Schizo’s growing ability to outfox his enemies make the film exciting. The major contribution to the film is by production designer Talgat Asyrankoulov and cinematographer Khasanbek Kydyralyev, making the film poetic, while the music adds to the atmosphere of this film which, I am certain, will easily find its way to other festivals. To those where people prefer to speak about film aesthetics…