As the ninth largest country in the world, Kazakhstan stretches far across the border between Asia and Europe, bringing together a huge range of ethnicities and cultures into a remarkably diverse society. It is also a country that has struggled to rebuild itself after it finally broke free from Soviet rule in the early 1990s and many locals have begun to worry about their nation’s future.

On A Clear Day You Can See the Revolution From Here, the debut feature from English filmmakers Emma Charles and Ben Evans James, shines a much-needed light on this struggle, finding a frequently misunderstood country that is suffering from a series of identity crises. Punctuated with shots of Kazakhstan’s vast plains and swathes of grassland, the film dips in and out of various episodes in the troubled country’s recent history and explores the deep undercurrents of folklore heritage that still survive among the locals.

The documentary’s deliberately minimal style, with an ominous Koyaanisqatsiesque soundtrack and sparse voiceover, sometimes threatens to distract from the film’s central focus. But more often than not, On A Clear Day proves to be a moving mediation on the dangers of fragmented histories. As we travel through Kazakhstan, we see that the impact of the country’s recent past is visible within the landscape too. Most disturbing is the former atomic bomb test site near the town of Semey, where the Soviets conducted hundreds of nuclear tests up until the late 1980s and ravaged the area as a result.

On A Clear Day tells the story of a country on a journey of self-discovery and a population determined to pull through as one. By exploring how this journey has affected the country in a myriad of ways, Charles and James succeed in shining a light on Kazakhstan’s troubled past and hopeful future.



DIRECTORS: Emma Charles, Ben Evans James

SYNOPSIS: Since breaking free from Soviet rule, Kazakhstan has sought to rebuild its national identity and rediscover its traditional heritage.