To the participants of the Festival of the 3 Continents
by Chinguiz Aitmatov
Days go by and time implacably lengthens, ever widening the gap between past and present. But we cannot believe that Tolomush Okeyev is not with us any more. He seems to be so close, somewhere nearby, shooting his new film. Yes, he is among us, always energetic and willful, inspired by some new artistic discovery.
Alas, the great Kirghiz film-maker is only alive in our memories. His films became classics of our national art in his own lifetime. They are now part of the cultural heritage of the 20th century.
Tolomush Okeyev was definitely a remarkable film-maker, an eminent screen artist who, under a strong totalitarian regime, was able to make films that were extraordinary in form and content. His attractive personality made him a charming man with an open mind.
Okeyev’s experience is the most valuable resource for the development of contemporary Kirghiz cinema. I hope the new generation of film-makers knows how to preserve and pursue Okeyev’s creative possibilities, even in the current market context where contemporary artists have to face many difficult, sometimes radical, changes in their life and work.
Today Tolomush Okeyev’s films still have a life of their own and continue to be seen by new audiences. Not so long ago, last summer, on the island of Gökçeada in the Aegean Sea, I took part in the opening ceremony of a Turkish festival where Okeyev’s Red Apple was shown to a large number of islanders on a huge screen, by the sea under an open and starry sky. I felt very happy and proud. Proud of the work Tolomush Okeyev and I had done writing the script based on my short story which gave birth to such a marvellous film.
Brussels, 10 October 2002