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Chinese musician’s wartime friendship with Kazakh composer captivates movie audiences

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A still from the film The Composer, a biographical portrait of Chinese composer Xian Xinghai. [Photo/China Daily]

Despite the ongoing pandemic, The Composer – a biographical portrait of Xian Xinghai, one of China’s greatest composers – has won acclaim in Kazakhstan, the country where Xian spent the last five years of his life, according to the film’s producer. ShenJian.

The film, the first Sino-Kazakhstani co-production, is based on a speech President Xi Jinping gave at Nazarbayev University during his visit to Kazakhstan in September 2013. In the speech, he mentioned the friendship of Xian with the Kazakh composer Bakhitzhan Baykadamov during the turbulent war period of the early 1940s.

The film, with Hu Jun playing the Chinese composer and Yuan Quan as the protagonist’s wife, was shot in China, Kazakhstan and Russia and includes 20,000 people in the production. Two years of research preceded the shooting.

The film recounts that Xian was commissioned to take a trip to the then Soviet Union in 1940 to compose the score for a documentary about the Chinese Yan’an Revolutionary Center and the Eighth Route Army. His work was disrupted by the German invasion of the Soviet Union the following year, which stranded him in Almaty during an unsuccessful attempt to return home. With Baykadamov’s help, Xian, then struggling with poverty and hunger, was lodged in Baykadamov’s sister’s house and managed to continue his artistic creation in his later years before dying in a Moscow hospital in 1945. .

The film was released in China and Kazakhstan in 2019. After being screened in cinemas, it has been shown frequently in Kazakhstan over the past three years on six television channels, including Astana TV and El Arna, Kazakhstan .

“The in-person cultural exchange of Chinese and Kazakh artists has been interrupted by the pandemic. makes it one of the most popular international co-productions in Kazakhstan,” Shen said, adding that it has become an important work to strengthen the friendship between the two countries.

In China, the film also received great recognition, as evidenced by its selection for the opening of the 9th Beijing International Film Festival. It has aired several times on China Movie Channel, the country’s most influential TV channel dedicated to movies.