Despite budget shortfalls and social unrest, Kyrgyz leaders are forging ahead with the most expensive film in Kyrgyzstan’s history, apparently in the hope that a tale of a 19th century heroine can promote a sense of cultural unity. Critics worry that the epic’s nation-building aim is overly ambitious, and it will end up flopping.
When Osh’s Uzbek Music and Drama Theater opened its 94th season last month, the actors looked nervously into the audience. They had not celebrated an opening night for three years, since before the theater was partially burned amid 2010’s ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan.
Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s southern capital, is calmer than it’s been in ages. The hostile vibe that has prevailed since inter-ethnic rioting in 2010 seems to be slowly dissipating -- evidenced by the fact that Kyrgyz and (some) Uzbeks can be seen strolling in the city’s parks together on weekends.
The two losers in Kyrgyzstan’s presidential poll last October are using upcoming municipal elections in the troubled southern city of Osh to make a political comeback by throwing their support behind a volatile but popular local strongman. The southerners’ united front offers fresh evidence that the central government in Bishkek has only limited influence in the country’s second-largest city.