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Gift to Stalin

Directed by Rustem Abdrashev

Kazakhstan-Russia-Poland-Israel | 97 minutes | 2008

Russian, Kazakh, Hebrew with English subtitles

Kazakhstan, 1949: a train packed with Russian Jews unloads its dead. A terrified boy, mute after witnessing his grandfather’s death, is rescued by Muslim gravedigger Kasym. Nicknamed Sabyr, the boy recuperates among a coterie of kindly villagers, but the doting Kasym knows his young charge will never be safe from the omnipresent Soviet regime. Military patrols and kowtowing local officials abuse their power while radio announcements from Moscow echo around the beautiful steppes. Reappraising the past from present-day Jerusalem, Rustem Abdrashev’s magnificently photographed and ultimately uplifting third feature has drawn comparisons with Cinema Paradiso. Yet it also documents one of Stalin’s forgotten crimes, committed in the shadow of the Holocaust against Jews and other ‘minorities’ murdered or deported to Central Asia. Sabyr hopes a birthday gift to the great leader will save his missing parents. But the USSR has its own macabre plans for Uncle Joe’s 70th as the nuclear age creeps towards the boy’s adopted homeland.
Foreign Title Podarok Stalinu
Director Rustem Abdrashev
Countries of Production Kazakhstan-Russia-Poland-Israel
Year of Presentation 2008
Language(s) Russian, Kazakh, Hebrew with English subtitles
Premiere Status
Runtime 97 minutes
Principal Cast Nurzhuman Ikhtymbaev, Bakhtiar Khoja, Yekaterina Rednikova
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