Directed by : Adilkhan YERZHANOV

  • Year of production : 2015
  • Country : Netherlands , France , Kazakhstan , Netherlands
  • Length : 90 minutes


Fourteen-year-old Aliyushka lives in a neglected chemical plant, which, after the Soviet Union collapsed, has become a shelter for underaged drug addicts and tramps. She is the only one who can read and write, and the only one not using drugs. Aliyushka wants more from live than a mere fight for survival. She wants to help these children that society doesn’t care for. She has read old soviet books from the abandoned library and tries to implement the ideas of Tommaso Campanella, Plato, and Aristotle among her peers who are sniffing toluene (a gravely damaging industrial solvent) and dying from AIDS and tuberculosis. However, the local plant dwellers live by their own rules and don’t care about the ideas of saving humanity. Only a few kids follow Aliyushka, sharing her doomed struggle against addiction, poverty and desperation. Aliyushka believes there is a better world outside the plant but she will have to go through challenges that befall upon every prophet known in history.


I was ten years old when I met this girl. She was smart for her age - she took after her mom who was a Russian language teacher. When the Soviet Union collapsed and the girl’s mother died, Aliyushka was put in an orphanage from where she always tried to escape. I noticed how she used to gather a small crowd of local tramps who lived at a neglected carbide plant. She read books to them, she taught them spelling and math. She was naive to believe she could change her peers. Then she disappeared. With the years I forgot about Aliyushka. Now I start to realize that it is important to remember her life, which is a great story about the antagonism of ideas and reality. Aliyushka’s experiment to create the ideal society is virtually tragic because it is impossible, but therefore more beautiful.


Adilkhan YERZHANOV - Director


Language film : Kazakh, Russian
Working budget: 790 000 €
Financing acquired: 390 000 €




L'Atelier 2014