The Adopted Son (Beshkempir)
It's funny how the global community becomes smaller as the different corners of the world get more diverse and distinct. Before the fall of the Soviet Empire, the Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan didn't exist, let alone produce films as wonderful as The Adopted Son. The fact that the movie can be seen at all in America, however briefly, is a miracle unto itself. The first independent movie to be made in Kyrgyzstan, The Adopted Son couldn't be simpler: A young boy (Mirlan Abdykalykov) in a small village begins to suspect that he may be a foundling. After enduring some mean-spirited taunting from his friends, he realizes the discovery of his heritage to be an important catalyst in his transformation from boy to man. Director Aktan Abdikalykov fills his film with stunning imagery: Most of The Adopted Son is in black-and-white, often sepia-toned, but Abdikalykov splashes the occasional scene with effective bursts of color in a rug, a bird, or a girl walking through the trees. The purely black-and-white scenes, however, are just as beautiful, recalling the tasteful mastery of such filmmakers as John Ford and other directors enamored of the dusty outdoors. Excellent though The Adopted Son may be as a whole, specific images still stick out: An overhead shot captures cattle carefully walking around a woman shaped out of sand, a covert glimpse of an approaching figure in the face of a tiny hand-held mirror, boys peeking at a nude woman administering leeches, and a black-and-white crowd watching an Indian film flickering in color. It's as assured and artistically secure as a debut feature can be.