Kazakhstan, Russia, Kazakhfilm, GALA TV, Kinoprom, 2005, 66 minutes
Scriptwriters: Rustam Khamdamov, Renata Litvinova
Director and production designer: Rustam Khamdamov
Directors of photography: Rifkat Ibragimov, Sergey Mokritsky
Composers: Tatiana Gridenko, Vladimir Martynov
Sound directors: Mikhail Reznichenko, Dmitry Nagorny
Editor: Irakli Kvirikadze
Cast: Renata Litvinova, Erik Kurmangaliev, Roza Dzhamanova, Araksiya Davtyan, Bibigul Tulegenova, Dimash Akimov, Natalia Skidanova, Ilze Liepa, Malik Khamdamov, Valentin Klementyev, Ekaterina Antonova, Anna Balukova, Kristina Loseva, Artur Podgoretsky, Natalia Kalikanova, Rano Shamuzofarova, Omar Zhalgasbayev, Kudrat Rozakhunov, Dastan Sadmanov, Nursultan Sadmanov, Kamil Berdiev.
Following the opening credits that ceremoniously present the film’s participants - there are all People’s Artists and Honored Artists of opera and stage here - as well as following the main title, spiced up with an extremely precise genre definition, "film concert", to avoid any misunderstandings - that very misunderstanding occurs. In the frame, ladies dressed in the old-fashioned style are running along an abandoned factory site or a construction site that has been forgotten for good. There are furs, hats, handbags, lipstick, and breath beautifully coming through the veil in the cold. The apocalypse seems to have already happened, and this guess is immediately confirmed by Renata Litvinova (the concert’s presenter, Honored Artist of Russia): “We now know that all civilizations are mortal, we have heard about people who have disappeared without a trace, we have heard about empires that have gone down..." The text of the speech given in the Kazakh language is difficult to remember, and the pieces of paper on which it is printed flutter in the frame: the winter wind that is driving the dust of civilization across the post-Soviet steppe is too strong.
Reports about the beginning of work on "Vocal Parallels" appeared in October 1997. At that time, the newspaper "Kommersant" reported that the government of Kazakhstan allocated money for the new project by Rustam Khamdamov. There were no details beyond that, however, even the working title was not disclosed. It was only said that a “light drama” with an abundance of opera music would be made, and Renata Litvinova would write the dialogues for the film.
In fact, Litvinova, despite her role as an MC, is, of course, not the main character in this film. "Vocal Parallels" were tailored to countertenor Erik Kurmangaliev. A boy from a mountain village already in the 1980s was a favorite of Sviatoslav Richter and in the 1990s became famous in Moscow playing the role of M. Butterfly in the stage production by Roman Viktyuk, where Makovetsky, however hard he tried, could not discern a man in him. Already in the mid-1990s in Kazakhstan, they decided to make a documentary about their outstanding compatriot, and with this idea they came to Khamdamov, who provided the clients with material that did not fit into their ideas of biographical cinema at all.
These were popular arias (Tchaikovsky, Rossini, Schumann, Brahms), performed by the best voices of the Soviet East (in addition to Kurmangaliev in a woman's dress, the arias are performed by Bibigul' Tulegenova, Araksiya Davtyan, and Roza Dzhamanova) in fancy costumes and presented by Renata Litvinova. According to the director, “Vocal Parallels” harken back primarily to the magnificent Soviet revues of the time of “cine-anaemia” (for example, to "Big Concert" (“Bol'shoi kontsert”, 1951) or "Merry Stars" (“Veselye zvezdy”, 1954), both directed by Vera Stroeva).
Khamdamov likens his stories to an oriental carpet, which resolutely avoids linearity, but finds solace in repetitions and reflections. The pattern goes in all directions at once, linking together the absurd chic of “cine-anemia" and Fellini’s fantasies, cigarettes “Prima” and imperial Rome, or forcing local cadets to read Adelbert von Chamisso in Kazakh translation. “Vocal Parallels” are largely woven from restored materials, from scraps. Both literally - there are clapperboards and some unsuccessful takes - and figuratively, because in the film, shot among the fragments of magnificent decor and cultural ruins, time itself breathes. Several civilizations coexist on the screen at once, which "feed" on one other in a fruitless attempt to find themselves, and not the last and not the strangest one of these civilizations is the Soviet one.
A surrealist film concert. Opera singers - Araksiya Davtyan, Roza Dzhamanova, Erik Kurmangaliev - perform arias from operas by Puccini, Schumann, and Rossini. The heroine played by Renata Litvinova acts as an announcer and conducts dialogues with the performers about talent and mediocrity.