The new feature film by Emma Charles and Ben Evans James, ‘On A Clear Day’, is an immersive journey through the Kazakh steppe, where history collides with the present. The film drifts through industrial landscapes, small towns and cities, as well as recounting personal stories of place and identity. This kaleidoscopic journey is weaved together with Kazakh folklore and music, bringing into focus a country at a crossroads both geographically and politically as it searches for a new post-soviet identity.
The vast steppe-lands of Kazakhstan provided the backdrop to the world’s first transnational economy, the Silk Road. Continuing its role today, the steppe now drives economic growth in the former Soviet state through rare mineral mining - the need for which can be traced back to our demand for new technologies ranging from nuclear power to electric cars. The imprint of these techno-capitalist infrastructures are clearly visible throughout Kazakhstan and the film takes the viewer to Bogatyr coal mine and electricity production in Ekibastuz, as well as the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site. ‘On A Clear Day’ explores how this new found wealth from the steppe has helped pay for the construction of a new capital, Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana). A city that uses semiotics within its very architecture to reflect back pre-Soviet Kazakh traditions of folklore and the ancient shamanic religion of Tengrism. A bold statement of a new nation, Nur-Sultan is an architectural projection of myths both old and new.
Filmed over a period of two years on 16mm film, ‘On A Clear Day’ will be released in the summer of 2019.