IGLA (aka The Needle)
Dir: Rashid Nugmanov, 1988
Soviet Union, 81 min.
Russian with English subtitles
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 13 – 10:00 PM
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 21 – 7:30 PM
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 29 – 7:30 PM
Igla is a disjointed, narratively unconventional, and surreal film, established as a precursor to the Kazakh new wave. Its beautifully austere and surreal scenes are set in the collapsing, virtually lawless Soviet Union. While Igla touches upon taboos and political subjects such as drug use and organized crime—two of perestroika’s biggest social afflictions—Rashid Nugmanov, Igla’s young Kazakh director, described the film as just a fun project made by a few friends, and more of an homage to “Soviet television” than a social critique.
Viktor Tsoi, (Kino’s front man) plays Moro, a stoic and nonchalant young man. Moro travels to Almaty to collect an unpaid debt, getting into trouble with a local gang on the way. Eventually, he finds himself helping Dina, his morphine-addicted ex-girlfriend, and rescuing her from a drug ring led by an insidious doctor (played by Peter Mamonov, front man of the band Zvuki Mu). In an attempt to get Dina clean, Moro takes her to the dry Aral Sea in the Kazakh desert, where she suffers through withdrawal. When they return, however, Dina relapses and Moro confronts the doctor. In the end, Dina’s fate remains ambiguous, as does the direction of Moro’s own future.
Igla launched Viktor Tsoi into the mainstream, and many of his songs used in the film became huge hits. His own untimely death in 1990 marked him as a cult icon and symbol for freedom and romance during the end times of the USSR.