A modern-day Raskolinkov, at right

  • A modern-day Raskolinkov, at right

For years I’d heard about Darezhan Omirbaev, one of Kazakhstan’s most respected living filmmakers, though I hadn’t been able to see any of his work. Even in the DVD era—when supposedly “everything” is available—central Asian movies remain difficult to come by. Facets Multimedia has a copy of his Killer (1998), but that’s all I’ve been able to track down in Chicago. The critic Kent Jones dedicated his essential volume Physical Evidence to Omirbaev (for “still believ[ing] in cinema on the other side of the world”), which only heightened my curiosity, if not my understanding of what his films were actually like. So I was glad that the Chicago International Film Festival added Omirbaev’s Student to its lineup at the last minute: I’d have my first chance to see one of his movies on a big screen. (It plays one more time on Monday at 3 PM.)