The success of Harmony Lessons – this remarkable debut feature of the young Kazakh director Emir Baigazin – lies in its ability to solve, shot after shot and with unerring precision, the intriguing enigma of its title. Thirteen-year-old Aslan, brought up by his grandmother on a remote farm, goes to school each day in the nearest village. He hears his teachers talk about science, literature and history, but what he learns there is a different and terrible lesson, alone against all, against everything. The humiliation and bullying of his classmates increasingly traumatise the boy. Baigazin depicts this crescendo with an impressive mastery of rhythm. Far from any melodramatic treatment, the filmmaker successfully and uncompromisingly denounces a civil society plagued by corruption and violence.