“Arkadag Dawn”: how an international film festival turned into PR for the authorities

The first International Film Festival “Arkadagyň säheri” (“Arkadag Dawn”) organized by the State Committee on Television, Radio Broadcasting and Cinematography took place in Turkmenistan on 14-15 October at the Aman Gulmammedov State Drama Theatre in the town of Arkadag. Actors, directors, producers, film and theatre stars, and cinematographers from Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Turkey and France took part in the festival. This was reported by Turkmenportal.

It is reported that the event began with a red-carpet walk of film and theatre artists. The program included premieres of TV series, creative meetings, and presentations. And TRT representative office in Turkmenistan prepared a gala program of short films.

The first to visit the republic was French actor Edouard Montoute, known for the films: “Taxi”, “Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra”, “Labyrinths”, and “Little Secrets”. He also held a master class for students of the Institute of Culture of Turkmenistan.

“I have been an actor for more than 30 years and now I am proud to be in Ashgabat. I would like to say thank you to the festival and the organizers, to the president of Turkmenistan and the national leader, and the people of Turkmenistan because you are a good audience. This master class was very interesting because it was about a film I made. I think there are many young people here who want to become actors, directors, and writers. I can’t wait to come and see the films of these students. Of course, maybe I’ll want to buy a flat and live here with my kids. Why not?” – Montut said in an interview for Turkmenportal on YouTube.

It is known that Edouard Montoute continues to act in films, but his roles are not bringing him crazy success. Therefore, “Inspector Alain” agrees to participate in any interesting events where he can remind himself.

In addition to Montoute, the festival was attended by Sami Neseri – the performer of the main role in the film “Taxi” and Turkish actor Burak Ozcivit, who played in the series “The Magnificent Century”, “The King’s Songbird”, “Black Love” and “Foundation: Osman”.

Gathering recognizable actors and a well-known media crowd under one roof was a decision of the Berdymukhamedov family. And the city for holding a large-scale event of the international level was also chosen for a reason. The “ghost town” needs the world to remember its author and creator, and the ghost town itself needs its name to be forever inscribed in the history of Turkmenistan. At first glance, there is nothing wrong in making history, but at a time when people are poor and deprived of the most basic goods in their own country, and the authorities are spending millions on building a new city and PR – it is already a caprice.

Undoubtedly, the initiators of the film festival count on the fact that Arkadag will be talked about all over the world in different languages. After all, the films change every day, new names will be heard among the winners from year to year, and Arkadag will remain an unchanged symbol of Berdimuhamedov’s dictatorial hand.

Perhaps the next film festival in 2024 will not be as “loud” as the previous one. It is only known that “Korkut Ata” will be held in the Turkmen city of Anau because this ancient city was declared the cultural capital of the Turkic world in 2024.