FRANCE / KYRGYZSTAN / GERMANY / NETHERLANDS – 2010 – 80 MIN – COLOUR - FEATURE - IN KIRGHIZ WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES
A FILM BY AKTAN ARYTM KUBAT
They call him "Svet-ake" ("Mr. Light"). The electrician is responsible for bringing more than just light to the people around him. Like moths, everybody is drawn to his kindness: those with short circuits in their electricity, and those with short circuits in their marriage, those who have taken all the power in the city, and those who have given up the will to live. He helps everyone and is everywhere. He doesn't even shy from breaking the law, rewinding an old and lonely pensioner's electricity meter so that he doesn't owe the State, but rather the State owes him.
The economic devastation of the country has had an enormous impact on the working people and yet despite the upheaval they have not lost the ability to love, to suffer, to share their lives with friends, and enjoy what they have... in particular our resilient electrician who possesses a wonderful and open heart. He not only brings electric light (which is often out) to the lives of the inhabitants of this village, but he also spreads the light of love, loyalty, life, and most of all, lots of laughter.
￼He only has two dreams: to someday have a son and to provide people with cheaper energy through wind power.
The country is the midst of a revolution. Power lies in the hands of greed-driven people, obsessed with their personal enrichment. "Svet-ake" is a resistance against this dark madness. He who brings the light, takes it away, leaving the darkness in the dark. Only the light of the dream remains glowing in the night; a candle of a very delicate hope.
Aktan gained international attention for his work, winning the Golden Leopard of the Future at Locarno in 1993 for THE SWING and the Silver Leopard for THE ADOPTED SON in 1998. In 2001, he was nominated for the European Film Academy (EFA) Discovery Award. His films have been screened at various international film festivals and have received multiple awards.
Aktan was born in 1957 in Kyrgyzstan and graduated from the Art Academy in Bishkek (formerly Frunze). He started working as a production designer in the 1980’s, writing his first screenplay in 1995. He has been working as a director since 1992.
"the experience is transporting, as all well imagined and well crafted film experiences should be."
- THE TORONTO STAR
"To underline what will be lost, filmmaker Aktan Arym Kubat emphasizes the beauty of the land and the appeal of the villager’s simple lives. Mr. Light, for example, has an idyllic domestic life with his wife and four daughters. Besides the specific political and historical elements, the film is a slow, quiet meditation on a very different way of life. THE LIGHT THIEF is in the Kyrgyz language, with English subtitles."
- THE TORONTO STAR
"Though THE LIGHT THIEF would appear to fit neatly into the tradition of the small-town farce, its genial surface masks the darker, bleaker nature of Arym Kubat’s film, which eventually reveals its true colours as an allegory about Kyrgyzstan’s troubles in the face of various post-Soviet pressures and problems. So while the earthy humour gives the film plenty of charm — as does its portrayal of Kyrgyz traditions — there’s a more troubling side to this seemingly simple and eminently local story. "
- EYE WEEKLY
"It’s as if Robin Hood worked for the power company"
- THE GLOBE AND MAIL
"Kubat’s vision is felt in waves as he perfectly captures the disruption of a solid foundation, much in the way a gentle breeze gives way to a torrential storm."
- THE TORONTO FILM SCENE
"every sequence is commendable, as is an attention to customs and traditions juxtaposed with negative change, as represented by the wardrobe, demeanour and morality of the opportunistic newcomers."
"A work of political outrage, tragicomically told, THE LIGHT THIEF tells the story of a dirt-poor Kyrg village where one old man nicknamed Mr. Light (director Arym Kubat) does his bit for the common good, wiring free electricity for the poorest of the poor, and carrying on in quixotic attempts to create windmill power for the village.
His efforts attract the attention of corrupt officials who come bearing smiles, but seek to co-opt him or worse.
The little-known Asian country in Russia’s orbit is fascinatingly — if meanderingly — depicted, from their ceremonial life to their gritty day-to-day existence"
- TORONTO SUN
"The unnamed village in THE LIGHT THIEF is just about as remote as one can get, separated from scenes of uprising in the Kyrgyzstan capital by a forbidding mountain range. It's a place where “Mr. Light” is a modest hero, rigging wires to bring light and heat to his impoverished neighbours. But he naively welcomes change, and director Aktan Arym Kubat (who also stars) is skilled at making the trappings of modernity — even SUVs and business suits — seem particularly out of place in this windswept locale."
"From Kyrgyzstan comes a modest but engaging fable about a shock-prone electrician who is caught up in cultural changes and more sinister machinations that threaten the future of his already poor village. Besides giving a charming lead performance as the somewhat addled but well-intentioned “Mr. Light,” writer-director Kubat succeeds at generating considerable thematic complexity and wider resonance from his seemingly simple and eminently local story."
- NOW MAGAZINE
"While many gather to watch the next big blockbuster to hit the screens, there are others who seek out the more alternative options to mainstream. FilmsWeLike, the independent distribution company headed by filmmaker Ron Mann, recently announced that the 2010 Palm d’Or winner Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Lung Boonmee Raluek Chat); I Wish I Knew (Hai Shang Chuan Qi) - the new film from master Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhang-Ke; and THE LIGHT THIEF (Svet-Aki) a delightful gem from Kyrgyzstan’s Aktan Arym Kubat will be showcased at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival."
- DIGITAL JOURNAL