Only Czech film in main competition at One World captures transformation process in Kyrgyzstan


All that Glitters by Tomáš Kudrna is the only Czech film in the main competition at the One World festival of human rights documentaries in Prague. The film is about what happens when Western investors take over a gold mine in a town in the ex-Soviet state of Kyrgyzstan which is also threatened by environmental disaster. I spoke to the director of All that Glitters ahead of its world premiere on Saturday.

“For me this film is about a clash of very different cultures. It’s a clash between the culture of a post-Soviet country and a Western investor coming from Canada. Because the gold mine which is the centre of the focus of the film is operated by a Canadian company. So having Canadians in Central Asia dealing with post-Soviet culture is something that interests me.”

'All that Glitters'
Here in the Czech Republic in the 1990s people spoke about “Wild East” capitalism. I imagine what you found in Kyrgyzstan was quite a lot wilder?

“I don’t think so. It’s not that wild. But for me observing Kyrgyzstan and it’s transformation from a Soviet republic to an independent democracy is like observing my country in the time of wild privatisation and transformation. So I wouldn’t say it’s much wilder, but it has some more colourful or exotic features like billboards or all the visual side of Central Asia.”

How long were you there in Kyrgyzstan and what was the experience like of filming there?

“We went to Kyrgyzstan altogether seven times, mostly for two or three weeks with a little crew of only three people. Filming was a very adventurous experience. First we filmed at a gold mine that is situated at high elevation, around 4000 metres, and sometimes we had altitude sickness. But the surrounding mountains were beautiful, so it was a very nice experience being there.

“Then filming with the protagonists was a very rich experience, I would say. Some of them were very warm and talkative, but some of them were used to being silent, like they were in the past, so they were not as open as we had expected.”