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Exploring Identity in Student Filmmaking

We will be exploring questions around the concept of modern Russian identity, how it has evolved and manifests in young people - especially those on the move and in between cultures.

We will hear from our guest speaker, Nimasu Namsaren, and watch her award winning short film ‘Mavzhuda’ - a narrative on her experience with identity thought the lens of student film-making.

‘Mavzhuda’ tells a story of a 12-year-old girl from Uzbekistan who immigrates to Saint Petersburg with her mother and grandmother. Struggling to fit in in a new cultural environment and to express herself in a new language, Mavzhuda involuntarily starts to reject her own heritage, which causes a conflict with her loving grandmother. 

This short is the directorial debut of Nimasu Namasren, inspired by her experience of teaching the children of migrants at the Jewish Community Centre of Saint Petersburg. Many of them face the pressure of learning Russian very quickly in order to keep up with the curriculum at school, while their desire to adapt creates an internal dilemma that they can’t always express. Placed in between different cultures at home and at school they try to find balance and to explore their own unique identity.

Before coming to England to study Film at the University of Kent Nimasu Namsaren was growing up in Saint Petersburg after moving there from Kazakhstan at the age of 2. Being a child from a mixed background often made her feel alienated at a school where most of the children were Russian. This feeling of isolation and inability to fit in is often present amongst the children of migrants coming from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia and China. Unfortunately, Russia is still overcoming prejudice against migrant workers.

‘Mavzhuda’ is the winner of the ‘Best Film’ award at the Canterbury University Film Festival and was selected for the Lift-off First-time Filmmaker Sessions and the Zlaty Voci Student Film Festival in Czech Republic.