Review by E.J. Wickes
A film by Shamil Aliyev
Image (above), Bahruz Vagifoghlu as “Steppe Man”
Our Film of the Month selection is Shamil Aliyev’s Steppe Man. It’s a story about a man with no name; one who exists and survives on the grassy plains in between Russia and northern Iran; away from civilization. A very unassuming and well crafted narrative feature from Azerbaijan written by Vidadi Hasanov. It features Bahruz Vagifoghlu and Salome Demuria. Although it was not nominated, the film was selected as the Azerbaijani entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards.The film opens with an approaching train coming across a rural plain. The camera pans off into the vast but peaceful desolation of the steppe lands. With a run time of about an hour and twenty minutes, the plot is developed as the young Steppe Man rouses his father from a deep sleep in the middle of a rainy night. Just a man and a young boy living in a plastered hut with a thatched roof and it is time for the young man’s favorite camel to give birth.The authenticity of the set design and the corral were well planned if not an actual homestead. This is a family of modest means with no female or matriarch. A reference is made toward a female presence from the past. A photo is seen of a woman who may have been the young steppe man’s mother, but she is no longer with them.Life on the steppe is simpler; and entertainment demands more imagination. Storytelling being a characteristic of the rural lifestyle, the father tells the young boy a story, almost foreshadowing a future encounter he will have later in life with a girl named “Shanapipick”, or Fluffy-comb.Young Steppe Man’s father has made a living and provided for him and his son through the care and stewardship of the camels in their possession. Even though it is a less than comfortable existence, the father maintains a well disciplined but nurturing dynamic in teaching his son the traditions and lore of the steppe life. After establishing the mundane repetition of their daily routine, the director makes a clever transition through time, as the adolescent “steppe man” reappears from around the corner as the man he was groomed to be.The man and his son are destined to be together until the father passes. The son’s right of passage comes with the inheritance of his father’s profession. Any acquaintances beyond the city’s limits are few and far between. Our nameless steppe man grows into the position of caretaker of the herd as he gets old enough to fill his father’s shoes. One day as expected, the young man returns from grazing the camels to find that his father has quietly passed away, while seated on the bench as he came to do every day; as his health waned. Our protagonist, left alone alone must face a “brave new world”.After the death of his father, Steppe Man ventures into the city. Accompanied by only a camel and what it can carry, he casually walks to civilization. A well considered perspective was inferred by the truck hauling material for road work. Steppe Man is literally coming from beyond the realm of an industrial society, even by the standards of their own technological curve. Those living on the steppe are considered to be of a lower standard, or not having the same moral and spiritual credibility as the rest of society. Almost like a “hick” by western standards. Even though entirely different skill sets are required, no less respectable than city folks’, he’s still from the sticks and biases seem to be the same the world over.Along the way a chance encounter with a fiery young woman ensues. He passes by an intimate breakup that’s not going well as the woman is literally walking out on her relationship. Directly in his path she storms, trying to get away from an obviously selfish and abusive boyfriend. The argument between her and her boyfriend provides more foreshadowing to the showdown yet to come.Inconvenient as it is, (for the moment) she shows up at Steppe Man’s place and he finds her asleep in the hay wagon behind his dwelling. Perplexed; he goes about his daily routine of grazing the camels. Upon his return he’s even more dumbfounded; seeing that she’s washed the dishes and “tidied” up the house. Feeling at the disadvantage he erupts angrily toward the audacity of her incursion into his sanctuary.With very little dialogue some intensity is seen to exist between the characters. Almost in a primitive sense, they coexist like animals on the veldt. Sharing very little verbally until later; and only then, brief and poignant stories shaping the narrative laid down by Steppe Man’s father from the beginning, are important enough to put into words. This is not a unique formula; a love story between a city girl and a country boy. However, it’s told or almost painted, in a very unique way.As they coexist both are drawn to the other’s determination. She sees in him a man who has learned to live with nature in harmony; who doesn’t need to depend on material luxuries, only necessities. He is a man of few words and there is a strength to his naivety toward modernity. In her, he begins to see someone who is determined to engage the pastoral life. She is unpampered and works hard to fulfill her end of the partnership as his compassion for her grows.Most of the film was shot in the rural countryside with very little need for dramatic production design. The countryside was magnificent in itself and the photography and cinematography brought its subtle beauty to the screen artfully and without pretension. The shots of camel herding off in the distance are compelling. The pace is slow, but just slow enough to let your mind’s eye become immersed in the expansive serenity that makes up the vast grasslands of the region. I think we’re left to worry a little about how the “intrusion” will pan out and if our female lead wakes up in time to get the herd home. But the performances were spot on. I could feel the apprehension, sexual tension and the dedication to their survival that goes beyond personal gratification or hurt feelings.It’s not surprising how well received this film has been. It’s an immersing and well performed drama that’s held together with great direction, lighting, camerawork and tight editing.
E. J. Wickes is a visual artist and the Managing Editor of Cult Critic Film Magazine, as well as the creator and publisher of The Metamodern Magazine. His aesthetics lie somewhere in the vortex between ne art painting and lmmaking. Eric has worked in the Art Department on a variety of Hollywood, TV and independent lm productions and as the Creative Director of HLC Studios, he oversees the company’s media and publishing division.
President Donald Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, will testify publicly before a House committee next month in a hearing that could serve as the opening salvo of a promised Democratic effort to scrutinize Trump, his conflicts of interest and his ties to Russia, according to Bloomberg.The House Oversight and Reform Committee announced Thursday that Cohen will appear before that panel Feb. 7, a little more than a month after the Democrats took the House majority.The hearing marks the latest step in Cohen's transformation from a trusted legal adviser to the president to a public antagonist who has cooperated extensively against him. Although Democrats say the questioning will be limited to avoid interfering with open investigations, the hearing is still likely to pull back the curtain on key episodes involving Trump's personal life and business dealings, including hush-money payments to women.Cohen has pleaded guilty in both investigations and was sentenced last month to three years in prison. An adviser to Cohen, Lanny Davis, said shortly after he was sentenced that the former political fixer wanted to testify and "state publicly all he knows."In a statement released on Thursday, Cohen said he had accepted the invitation "in furtherance of my commitment to cooperate and provide the American people with answers."Trump has denied wrongdoing and sought to minimize Cohen's statements by painting him as a liar. Asked by reporters in Texas on Thursday about Cohen's appearance, Trump said he's "not worried about it at all."
Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) said Wednesday it is recalling another 1.7 million vehicles worldwide for potentially faulty Takata air bag inflators as part of a multi-year industry recall campaign announced in 2016, according to Reuters.Automakers are adding about 10 million vehicle inflators in the United States to what was already the largest-ever recall campaign in history. Last week, Ford Motor Co said it was recalling 953,000 vehicles worldwide for Takata inflators. Previously, 37 million U.S. vehicles with 50 million inflators were recalled and 16.7 million inflators remain to be replaced.At least 23 deaths worldwide have been linked to the rupturing of faulty Takata air bag inflators, including 15 in the United States.Toyota's new recall relates to vehicles from the 2010 through 2015 model years, and includes 1.3 million vehicles in the United States.More than 290 injuries worldwide have been linked to Takata inflators that could explode, spraying metal shrapnel inside cars and trucks. In total, 19 automakers are recalling more than 100 million potentially faulty inflators worldwide.To date, 21 deaths have been reported in Honda Motor Co (7267.T) vehicles and two in Ford vehicles. Both automakers have urged some drivers of older vehicles not to drive them until the inflators are replaced.The defect led Takata to file for bankruptcy protection in June 2017. In April, auto components maker Key Safety Systems completed a $1.6 billion deal to acquire Takata. The merged company, known as Joyson Safety Systems, is a subsidiary of Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corp (600699.SS).Automakers in the United States repaired more than 7.2 million defective Takata air bag inflators in 2018 as companies ramped up efforts to track down parts in need of replacement, according to a report released last month.
Azerbaijan`s Defense Ministry has said the Armenian armed forces continue to violate the ceasefire regime. "The Azerbaijani armed forces came under fire 28 times throughout the day," the ministry said in a statement."The Azerbaijani army`s positions came under fire from Armenian villages, including Aygeovit in Ijevan district, Chinari in Berd district and unnamed hills," the ministry said."The Azerbaijani army`s positions also came under fire from the Armenia-occupied districts of Azerbaijan including, Yarimja village in Tartar, Javahirli, Garagashli, Novruzlu, Yusifjanli villages in Aghdam, Garvand, Gorgan villages in Fuzuli, as well as unnamed hills in Goranboy and Tartar districts," the ministry added.
On London ICE (InterContinental Exchange Futures) cost of the Brent crude oil decreased $0.07 to trade at $61.61, while the price of Light crude at the NYMEX (New York Mercantile Exchange) rose $0.03 to stand at $52.62 on world markets.
The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) said it has chosen Jerusalem as the Capital of Islamic Culture for 2019, Anadolu Agency reports.Speaking at a press conference in Morocco's capital Rabat on ISESCO’s declaration of 2019 as the Year of Heritage in the Islamic World, Director General Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri said the organization has launched a comprehensive program to boost Islamic and international support for the preservation of cultural heritage in Jerusalem.He also urged the relevant authorities in the member states of the organization to support the initiative by organizing projects and cultural programs to increase the awareness about the heritage.Altwaijri proposed to declare other 2019 cultural capitals as brother cities to Jerusalem and urged each of these countries to allocate a week on Jerusalem within the framework of cultural capital programs.
Azerbaijan`s Defense Ministry has said the Armenian armed forces continue to violate the ceasefire regime. "The Azerbaijani armed forces came under fire from large-calibre machine guns 27 times throughout the day," the ministry said in a statement."The Azerbaijani army`s positions came under fire from Armenian villages and unnamed hills in Noyemberyan, Ijevan district," the ministry said."The army`s positions also came under fire from the Armenia-occupied districts of Azerbaijan including, Shiklar, Kangarli, Sarijali, villages in Aghdam, Ashagi Veysalli, Gobu Dilagharda, Garvand villages in Fuzuli, Nuzgar village in Jabrayil, as well as unnamed hills in Goranboy, Tartar and Khojavand districts," the ministry added.
On London ICE (InterContinental Exchange Futures) cost of the Brent crude oil decreased $0.19 to trade at $50.28, while the price of Light crude at the NYMEX (New York Mercantile Exchange) increased $0.13 to stand at $42.66 on world markets.
OPEC and the Joint Monitoring Committee of the OPEC + Ministerial Meeting (JMMC) will present “The 2018 OPEC World Oil Outlook (WOO)” at a press conference to be held in Algeria on September 23, according to the opec.org website.Algeria`s Minister of Energy, Mustapha Guitouni and OPEC`s Secretary General, Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, will provide opening remarks to the WOO launch. The Secretary General and senior members of OPEC management will then present the key messages from the publication, which provides an in-depth review and analysis of the global oil industry, and offers a thorough assessment of various sensitivity cases related to supply and demand trends in the medium- and long-term.For the first time, a Smart APP for the WOO will be made available, which will give increased access to the publication's vital analysis and energy data. And for the fourth year in a row, a comprehensive interactive version of the WOO will also be made available. More details on these will be provided when the publication is launched.First published in 2007, the WOO is one of OPEC’s flagship annual publications, providing expert analysis of the many challenges and opportunities facing the global oil industry. It serves as an important reference tool, providing insights into the upstream and downstream, as well as issues related to costs, investments, and the potential impact of policies and new technologies.
Azerbaijan`s Defense Ministry has said the Armenian armed forces continue to violate the ceasefire regime. "The Azerbaijani armed forces came under fire from large-caliber machine guns 92 times throughout the day," the ministry said in a statement."The Azerbaijani army`s positions came under fire from Armenian villages including Dovekh, Shavarshavan, Voskevan in Noyemberyan district, Aygeovit in Ijevan district, Chinari in Berd district and unnamed hills in Krasnoselsk district," the ministry said."The army`s positions also came under fire from the Armenia-occupied districts of Azerbaijan, including Namirli, Taghibayli, Yusifjanli villages in Aghdam, Kuropatkino village in Khojavand, Ashagi Veysalli, Gobu Dilagharda, Garakhanbayli, Gorgan, Horadiz villages in Fuzuli, Nuzgar villages in Jabrayil, as well as unnamed hills in Goranboy, Tartar, Khojavand and Jabrayil districts," the ministry added.
Azerbaijan`s Defense Ministry has said the Armenian armed forces continue to violate the ceasefire regime. "The Azerbaijani armed forces came under fire from large-caliber machine guns 95 times throughout the day," the ministry said in a statement."The Azerbaijani army`s positions came under fire from Armenian villages, including Dovekh village and unnamed hills, Aygeovit village in Ijevan district and Chinari village in Berd district," the ministry said."The army`s positions also came under fire from the Armenia-occupied districts of Azerbaijan, including Yarimja village in Tartar, Namirli, Bash Garvand, Sarijali, Novruzlu, Yusifjanli, Marzili villages in Aghdam, Kuropatkino village in Khojavand, Ashagi Veysalli, Garvand, Garakhanli, Gorgan, Kurdlar villages in Fuzuli, Nuzgar village in Jabrayil, as well as unnamed hills in Goranboy, Tartar, Aghdam, Khojavand and Fuzuli districts," the ministry added.
Milli Majlis is holding a special session to mark the 100th anniversary of the 31 March – the Day of Genocide of Azerbaijanis.Parliamentarians will adopt a draft resolution and also appeal to the world community in connection with the March genocide.
Price of a barrel of Azeri Light crude oil decreased $0.83 to trade at $70.03.On London ICE (Intercontinental Exchange Futures) cost of the Brent crude oil increased $0.58 to trade at $71.61 while the price of the Light crude oil at the NYMEX (New York Mercantile Exchange) rose $0.53 to stand at $66.84.
The works on the first phase of the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) to Eskisehir in Turkey were completed by 99%. The announcement was made during the general meeting of TANAP Board of Directors in Ankara, said a message from Azerbaijan`s State Oil Company SOCAR.During the meeting, the Board members were informed about the works done on the first phase of TANAP.“About 80% of works up to Europe were completed. In general, TANAP was completed by over 93%. Currently, all the work is carried out in accordance with the schedule with high accuracy and quality,” said the message.“Starting the second half of the current year, TANAP will transport 6 bcm of gas to Turkey as planned. All sides must fulfil their duties for completion of project timely”, said SOCAR President Rovnag Abdullayev in his speech.TANAP project envisages transportation of gas from Azerbaijan`s Shah Deniz field to the western borders of Turkey. The gas will be delivered to Turkey in 2018 and after completion of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline`s construction the gas will be delivered to Europe in early 2020.The length of TANAP is 1,850 kilometers with an initial capacity of 16 billion cubic meters of gas. Around six billion cubic meters of this gas is meant to be delivered to Turkey, with the remaining volume to be supplied to Europe.
“Genocide-100” exhibition will be held in Baku to commemorate the Day of Genocide of Azerbaijanis on March 29.The six-day exhibition will be co-organized by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Azerbaijan State Art Gallery.It will feature selected works from Azerbaijan State Art Gallery and personal collections of artists.
An unknown gunman has reportedly injured four people on Saturday evening at a basketball court in Chester, Pennsylvania, US, according to RT.The attacker opened fire from an elevated position at a 'good distance' from the court, the local branch of CBS reports, citing police. Assault rifle and handgun rounds were found at the spot where the shots were fired from. Police are currently looking for the shooter.
Azerbaijan`s Defense Ministry has said the Armenian armed forces continue to violate the ceasefire regime. "The Azerbaijani armed forces came under fire 132 times throughout the day," the ministry said in a statement."The Azerbaijani army`s positions came under fire from Armenian villages, including Shavarshavan in Noyemberyan district, Paravakar and unnamed hills in Ijevan, Mosesgekh, Chinari and Aygedzor in Berd district, and unnamed hills in Krasnoselsk districts," the ministry said."The army`s positions also came under fire from the Armenia-occupied districts of Azerbaijan, including Goyarkh, Chilaburt villages in Tartar, Taghibayli, Shikhlar, Bash Garvand, Javahirli, Abdinli, Garagashli, Ajarli, Yusifjanli and Marzili villages in Aghdam, Kuropatkino village in Khojavand, Ashaghi Veysalli, Gobu Dilagharda, Garvand, Garakhanbayli, Gorgan and Kurdlar villages in Fuzuli, Mehdili village in Jabrayil, as well as unnamed hills in Goranboy, Tartar, Aghdam, Khojavand and Fuzuli," the ministry added.
Slovenian President Borut Pahor has won his second five-year mandate by a wide margin as he secured about 56.2 percent of the vote, beating his closest opponent by more than 23 percent, TV Slovenia reported, citing exit poll results, according to RT.Pahor’s closest rival, the mayor of the city of Kamnik, Marjan Sarec, gained 22.5 percent in the presidential elections, in which a total of nine candidates took part.
On the New York Stock Exchange NYMEX (New York Mercantile Exchange), the cost of the US Light crude oil increased $ 0.26 to stand at $52.10. The price of Brent crude rose $0.14 to trade at $57.89 at the London ICE (Intercontinental Exchange Futures).
Five people died and four remain missing in the city of Ankang in northwest China's Shaanxi Province after heavy rain hit the city starting Tuesday, local authorities said Thursday, according to Xinhua.Around 150,000 people suffered losses, and the local government has evacuated more than 27,000 residents, according to the city's flood control headquarters.The rain also damaged at least 2,000 houses and more than 12,000 hectares of crops. The direct economic losses surpassed 540 million yuan (around 81 million U.S. dollars), it said.On Thursday, the provincial weather bureau has lifted a blue alert for heavy rain, but warned the city to take precautions against geological disasters including floods and mudslides.China has a four-tier color-coded weather warning system, with red the most severe, followed by orange, yellow and blue.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dissolved Japan's House of Representatives on Thursday, calling a general election in a bid to maintain his hold on power, while opposition parties rallied together in a major reorganization aimed at giving the administration a challenge at the polls, according to Kyodo.Abe dissolved the lower house and set an Oct. 22 election as soon as it convened at noon for an extraordinary session, without making a policy speech and without a plan to hold a press conference afterward.The timing of the election, official campaigning for which will start on Oct. 10, suggests the premier's primary goal is to take advantage of perceived weakness and lack of preparation in the opposition.The main opposition Democratic Party has recently been in disarray, while a new party with charismatic Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike at the helm was established just this week.
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