Professor of Russian Jane Knox-Voina spent several weeks in Kazakhstan over the summer while working as American Embassy Specialist on a filmmaking project funded by the U.S. State Department.
Knox-Voina conducted filmmaking workshops with urban youth in three Kazakh cities, including Kostanai, Oskeme and Shymkent. The workshops were designed to give the budding filmmakers new tools for examining what it means to be young in Kazakhstan. They explored the challenges of relationships, making a living, and of coexisting in a multinational society – bordered by two large, threatening neighbors, Russia and China.
“The films all show many sides and shades to these problems,” noted Knox-Voina, “yet in all cases, unity is an overarching theme.”
The teams of filmmakers wrote the scripts, then filmed and edited them on the spot in their respective cities. The best of the films were selected for viewing at the American Embassy in Astana. Those films will be screened at Bowdoin on October 29, 2009, at 7 p.m. in Smith Auditorium, as well as a longer film, “Etudes on Chekov’s Lady with a Dog,” produced by Bowdoin students.
Knox-Voina is an expert in Central Asian cinema. In 2007, she collaborated with five Bowdoin students to write, film and produce a documentary on Kazkhstan, “Two Faces of a Nation” (Silkway Films, USA, Inc.).