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.
Azerbaijan’s football club Qabala will hold four friendly matches as part of their training camp in Austria.Gabala will clash with Austrian TSV Fulpmes, Russian FC Terek Grozny, Bulgarian Botev Plovdiv and PFC Ludogorets Razgrad.
The public transportation plan Baku has been revealed for 23-25th June 2017, during the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.The plan has taken into account transportation requirements of spectators to reach key locations around Baku City Circuit, including the F1 Village on the Boulevard and spectator grandstands.In accordance with the Traffic Management Plan which is designed to ensure uninterrupted traffic flows in the affected central streets of Baku, buses and designated metro stations will operate for 20 hours each day, from 6:00 AM to 2:00 AM. During race, buses #65, #5 and #53 will operate at 5, 3, and 6 minute interval respectively.Spectators who want to take bus #65 will be required to get off at the stop near the MUM Store in Azerbaijan Avenue and proceed to the relevant grandstand by foot.Passengers willing to take bus # 5 are advised to exit at the stop which is located at the intersection of Rashid Behbudov and Nizami Streets and proceed to the relevant grandstand by foot. The bus will stop at the following locations throughout the event week:Narimanov Metro Station, 28 May Metro Station at Salatin Asgarova Street, 28 May Metro Station at Jafar Jabbarli Street, 28 May Street at Samed Vurgun Park, Nizami Street and Rashid Behbudov Street (close to Rashid Behbudov Theatre). This bus will operate at 3 minute interval.
Rector of Baku Higher Oil School (BHOS) Elmar Gasimov met with an Angolan delegation led by Oil Minister Jose Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos. The delegation also included Executive Director of Angolan Oil Company Sonangol, President of Executive Commission Paulino Xeronimo.Rector Elmar Gasimov spoke about importance of ties between Azerbaijan and Angola in the field of education and emphasized that rebuilding of the relations between two countries in this sphere would serve interests of both states. He put forward a proposal to initiate education of Angolan students at BHOS. As Elmar Gasimov informed, the Higher School new campus provides all necessary conditions for effective learning and comfortable accommodation of the students. In addition, they have opportunities to undertake an internship at various SOCAR’s facilities.
Azertac`s photo correspondent Ilgar Jafarov has won two awards at Good Light 2017 international photo competition in Serbia.His “To school” photo that he took in Lachin, Azerbaijan in 1992, earned him a bronze medal of the Master of Light Photographic Association (MOL PA).Ilgar was also awarded PSA (Photographic Society of America) Honorable Mention for “Two in dive” photo which he took at the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup in April 2017.A total of 503 photographers submitted 9445 works at Good Light 2017 international competition held under auspices of Fédération Internationale de l'Art Photographique (FIAP) and Photographic Society of America.
Seven people have died and many more were injured after a coach fell from a highway bridge in eastern Shandong Province, China, today, authorities said, Xinhua news agency reports.The accident happened at around 10:00 a.m. on the Shenyang-Haikou Expressway near the city of Rizhao. The coach skidded on the slippery road surface following a downpour, then rolled onto its side and went over the edge of the bridge, according to local traffic police.More than 30 passengers were on board at the time of the accident.
The death toll from a truck-bomb explosion in Kabul last week has reached more than 150 people, President Ashraf Ghani said on Tuesday, making it the deadliest attack in the Afghan capital since the ouster of the Taliban in 2001, according to Reuters.The blast occurred when a sewage truck packed with what Ghani called "military-grade" explosives detonated at the entrance to a fortified area of that city that includes foreign embassies and government buildings."We were not the only targets, the entire diplomatic community was the target of this attack," Ghani told foreign diplomats gathered for a conference in Kabul.Previous official estimates had put the death toll at about 90, with more than 460 wounded.All of those killed were Afghans, and Ghani paid specific homage to 13 policemen who stopped the truck as it tried to enter the fortified district and were killed in the blast.No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which sparked violent anti-government protests.Several protesters were killed in clashes with police on Friday, and at least a dozen people were killed when suicide bombers attacked the funeral for one of the dead protesters on Saturday.
The Armenian armed units violated ceasefire with Azerbaijan a total of 115 times throughout the day, Azerbaijan`s Defense Ministry said.The Azerbaijani army`s positions came under fire from Armenian villages, including Dovekh village and nameless hills in Noyemberyan region, Paravakar village and nameless hills in Ijevan region, Chinari village and nameless hills in Berd district and nameless hills in Krasnoselsk region.The army`s positions also came under fire from the Armenia-occupied districts of Azerbaijan, including Goyarkh, Chilaburt villages in Tartar, Bash Garvand, Javahirli, Garagashli, Shirvanli, Novruzlu, Marzali villages in Aghdam, Kuropatkino village in Khojavand, Ashagi Veysalli, Garakhanbayli, Gorgan, Horadiz villages in Fuzuli, Mehdili village in Jabrayil, as well as nameless hills in Goranboy, Tartar, Agdam, Khojavand and Fuzuli.
The OSCE is expected to monitor the border of Azerbaijan and Armenia June 7, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said.The monitoring will be held under the mandate of the OSCE chairperson-in-office personal representative in Azerbaijan’s Alibayli village of Tovuz district.On the Azerbaijani side, the monitoring will be held by field assistants of the OSCE chairperson-in-office personal representative Mikhail Olaru and Simon Tiller.On the Armenian side, the monitoring will be carried out by field assistants of the OSCE chairperson-in-office personal representative Gennady Petrica and Martin Schuster.
Azerbaijan has appointed its trade representative to China.Teymur Nadiroglu will be Azerbaijan`s second trade representative abroad as earlier this year the country appointed its first trade representative to Russia, according to the Ministry of Economy.Nadiroglu has work experience in the areas of investment, accounting, business development and financial planning in Azerbaijan, USA and China.Trade between Azerbaijan and China was one billion US dollars last year.