The Russian Reader

Reading Russian, Reading Russia

Not My Job

Film about Tajik Migrant Worker Wins Special Prize in Switzerland
Russia for All
April 26, 2016

Главный герой документального фильма Дениса Шабаева «Чужая работа» мигрант из Таджикистана Фаррух<br /> Главный герой документального фильма Дениса Шабаева «Чужая работа» мигрант из Таджикистана Фаррух
Still from Not My Job (2015), Denis Shabaev, director
Denis Shabaev’s film Not My Job has won a prize for “most innovative first film” at the international documentary film festival Visions du Réel, which just wound up in the Swiss town of Nyon. The film was shown in the Neuf Regard competition.

The documentary tells the story of a native of Tajikistan who has come to Russia not only to work but also to launch a career as an actor.

“Farrukh is a migrant worker. With his father, mother, and brothers he lives in New Moscow and takes any job that will bring even a little money. But this is not why he has traveled from his native Tajikistan, leaving behind his young wife and small children. Farrukh wants to become an actor, a famous actor,” write the filmmakers in their annotation of the film.

While Farrukh searches for roles, he plays a migrant worker mistakenly accused of murder in a film. However, a bit later, Farrukh really causes the death of another man in a traffic accident and ends up behind bars.

“The camera literally follows the footsteps of this tragic character trying to find his way between the respect of his traditionalist parents and the will to integrate into a universe where no one is expecting him. With this first film, Denis Shabaev tells a cruel parable, whose dry and elliptical form captivates us from the first shot to the last,” writes Emmanuel Chicon in his synopsis of the film on the festival’s website.

The winner of the main prize in the Neuf Regard competition was The Dazzling Light of Sunset, by Georgian filmmaker Salomé Jashi.

Visions du Réel was founded in 1969. It was the first festival to open its doors to documentary cinema from so-called Eastern Bloc countries. This year was the forty-seventh edition of the festival, and over 180 pictures were shown in competition.

Migrant workers from Central Asian countries often feature as characters in fiction and documentary films in Russia. Thus, one of the most high-profile Russian films of recent years was the feature film She, in which most of the main roles were played not just by people from Tajikistan but real migrant workers.

She tells the story of a young Tajik woman who breaks the taboo and escapes from marriage in Tajikistan to join her boyfriend in Russia. He works illegally in a landfill, where he sorts garbage with other migrant workers and lives in a shanty. The main characters of the film will initially settle there and experience all the hardships faced by migrant workers.

Still from She, Larisa Sadilova (2013)
Still from She (2013), Larisa Sadilova, director

The film is based on real events, and nearly all the characters were played by non-professional actors. The casting for the lead female role in Dushanbe took a long time, but ultimately Nilufar Faizieva was chosen for the part. Subsequently, the actress and the picture would win several awards at Russian and international film festivals.

Thanks to Sergey Abashin for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: