Echoes of a Storyteller

  1. Echoes of a Storyteller is a feature documentary in post production. The film will be completed by early 2011.

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  2. Manas Muras is a school for young aspiring Manaschis in Bishkek. Here, children learn to recite under the guidance and mentorship of some of Kyrgyzstan's most notable Manaschis, including Urkash Mambetaliev. In this video, Urkash gives insight to some of the students and we see one of the children begin to recite.

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  3. From the bazaar in Osh, where she works at a mobile credit booth, to her home outside the city, where she maintains a spiritual connection to Manas, we spent time with a young woman named Bermet who is adamant that her life's mission is to become a famous female Manaschi.

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  4. In the small town of Karakol, a security guard at the nearby dam returns home to his family and recites Manas.

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  5. The film was shot on two Canon 5d Mark II DSLR cameras, allowing the filmmakers to capture still images simultaneous to video. This sampling of photographs reflects the quality and resonance of these images; we are confident that our 1000+ photographs will serve great value--not only for the film but for periodical publication, multimedia, marketing and so on.

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Echoes of a Storyteller

harborless films

For over a thousand years, the people of Kyrgyzstan have maintained their history and tradition through an epic poem. The epic, called Manas, is passed orally from generation to generation by designated poem tellers known as Manaschis. Residual Soviet…


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For over a thousand years, the people of Kyrgyzstan have maintained their history and tradition through an epic poem. The epic, called Manas, is passed orally from generation to generation by designated poem tellers known as Manaschis. Residual Soviet influence and the continuing presence of Islam, pervasive in Kyrgyzstan's past century, complicate the once spiritual and ubiquitous power of Manas. The role of the Manaschi is now reconciled within a culture shaped by its Muslim population, estimated at over 75%, and by its role in the Soviet Union.

Our feature-length documentary will follow two Manaschis, one a young boy and the other an elderly man. Their relationship with one another, as teacher and student, conveys the lingering legacy of Manas in Kyrgyz culture today. They are two Manaschis at different ends of their careers; equally significant, they are two Kyrgyz who grew up in different societies and with different perspectives on their culture. Their polemic perspectives provide insight to the tremendous transitions of Kyrgyz life in the past fifty years.

Interviews with various figures--from government officials to historians to artists and musicians and other Manaschis--will supplement the central storyline and provide more authoritative insight to the epic poem and its significance. For some, the Manaschi is still the defining role within Kyrgyz culture. For others, many of whom grew up speaking Russian or reading the Koran, a Manaschi is no more than a figure of the past. Still, the poem and its teller, as well as the ways it reveals a larger story within a Central Asian society, provides a unique and little known subject for documentary film.

With over 130 hours of raw footage (between two cameras) and a collection of archival footage—from television programs to Soviet films—which we attained the rights to while in Kyrgyzstan, we are confident that our documentary will tell this story in the manner it deserves.

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