Kazakhstan has submitted fourteen films in the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film[nb 1] category since gaining its independence from the USSR in 1991. In 2008, Kazakhstan received its first-ever Oscar nomination, for the epic Genghis Khan biography, Mongol. Kazakhstan shocked many Oscar prognosticators when the obscure Kelin was shortlisted in 2010 over better-known films for Italy, Korea, Norway and others. Ultimately, Kelin failed to reach the final five. Kazakhstan is so far the only Central Asian country to be nominated for an Academy Award.


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has invited the film industries of various countries to submit their best film for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film since 1956. Below is a list of the films that have been submitted by Kazakhstan for review by the Academy for the award by year and the respective Academy Awards ceremony.

English title Kazakh title[n 1][3] Director Result
The Fall of Otrar Отырардың күйреуі Ardak Amirkulov Not nominated
Nomad Көшпенділер Sergei Bodrov, Talgat Temenov, Ivan Passer Not nominated
Mongol Моңғол Sergei Bodrov Nominated
Tulpan Қызғалдақ Sergey Dvortsevoy Not nominated
Kelin Келін Ermek Tursunov Made shortlist
Strayed[4] Заблудившийся Akan Satayev Not nominated[5]
Returning to the 'A'[6] Возвращение в «А» Egor Konchalovsky Not nominated
Myn Bala[7] Жаужүрек мың бала Akan Satayev Not nominated
The Old Man[8] Шал Ermek Tursunov Not nominated
Stranger[9] Жат Ermek Tursunov Not nominated
Amanat[10] Аманат Satybaldy Narymbetov Not nominated
The Road to Mother[11] Анаға апарар жол Akan Satayev Not nominated
Ayka[12] Айка Sergey Dvortsevoy Made shortlist[13]
Kazakh Khanate – Golden Throne[14] қазақ хандығының алтын тесігі Rustem Abdrashev Not nominated
The Crying Steppe[15] Ұлы дала зары Marina Kunarova Not nominated
Yellow Cat[16] Сары мысық Adilkhan Yerzhanov Not nominated
Life[16] Жизнь (Zhizn') Emir Baigazin Not nominated

Kazakhstan's first three submissions were epic historical dramas, showcasing key moments in pre-Soviet Central Asian history. The Fall of Otrar and Mongol take place in the 13th century, while Nomad is set in the 17th century.

The Fall of Otrar was produced by Kazakhfilm studio while Kazakhstan was still a part of the Soviet Union. Kazakhstan gained its independence in December 1991 and submitted the film in Fall 1992 to compete for the 1993 Academy Awards. The film is a violent 3-hour drama, shot mostly in black and white with occasional bursts of color, about political intrigue in the city of Otrar immediately before Genghis Khan's invasion.

Although the Kazakh film industry continued to produce a number of small, independent films that achieved success at international film festivals (including The Killer, Shiza and Little Men), Kazakhstan did not submit any other films for consideration until 14 years later.

Kazakhstan rejoined the Oscar race in 2006 and 2007 with two new, big-budget action movies, (Nomad and Mongol) both directed by Sergei Bodrov, an ethnic Russian and dual-citizen of both Russia and Kazakhstan.

Nomad, the most expensive film ever made in Kazakhstan, was bankrolled by the Kazakh government and told the story of the young Ablai Khan, who would eventually unite a number of Kazakh tribes on the steppes of 18th century Kazakhstan. Bodrov replaced French director Ivan Passer as director of Nomad early in filming.

Mongol was a lavish biography of the famed Mongolian leader Genghis Khan, from his childhood as a slave until the beginning of his conquest of much of the known world. In January 2008, AMPAS announced that Mongol had been selected from among 63 films as one of the five nominees for Best Foreign Language Film of the year. It eventually lost to Austria's The Counterfeiters.

Both of Bodrov's films were international co-productions featuring multi-national casts dubbed into Kazakh and Mongolian respectively. The lead actor in Nomad was American actor Jay Hernandez, while other supporting cast members came from Kazakhstan, Mexico and the USA. The lead actor in Mongol was Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano, while most of the supporting cast hailed from China and Mongolia.

In Fall 2008, Kazakhstan chose a non-action film for the first time. Comedy Tulpan tells the story of a young Kazakh sailor who returns home to landlocked Kazakhstan to search for a bride after serving in the military in Russia and begins trying to woo the only single girl in the entire region. Tulpan won the Un Certain Regard Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and Best Feature Film at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, as well as major awards at film festivals in Karlovy Vary and Tokyo.

In Fall 2009, Kelin, an obscure costume drama about a girl forced into an arranged marriage, and made with no dialogue, was selected over much-favored Gift to Stalin. It impressed the Oscar committee so much that it made the nine-film Oscar shortlist announced in January 2010.[17]

Nomad, Mongol and Tulpan were released theatrically in a number of Western countries, including the United States in 2007, 2008 and 2009 respectively, as well as throughout the former USSR, and all are available on DVD with English subtitles. Kelin is available on DVD in Kazakhstan.

1997 Academy Award nominee Prisoner of the Mountains from Russia (and also directed by Sergei Bodrov) was a Kazakh co-production and the 1974 Soviet submission, The Ferocious One was co-produced by a Kazakh film studio.

See also


  1. ^ In October 2017, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev issued a decree to use Latin script, instead of Cyrillic script.
  1. ^ The category was previously named the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, but this was changed to the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film in April 2019, after the Academy deemed the word "Foreign" to be outdated.[1][2]


  1. ^ "Academy announces rules for 92nd Oscars". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 23 April 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  2. ^ "Academy Announces Rule Changes For 92nd Oscars". Forbes. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  3. ^ "О переводе алфавита казахского языка с кириллицы на латинскую графику" [On the change of the alphabet of the Kazakh language from the Cyrillic to the Latin script] (in Russian). President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. 26 October 2017. Archived from the original on 27 October 2017. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  4. ^ "Updated List of Foreign Language Academy Submissions". indiewire. Retrieved 3 October 2010.
  5. ^ "9 Foreign Language Films Continue to Oscar Race". oscars.org. Retrieved 19 January 2011.
  6. ^ "63 Countries Vie for 2011 Foreign Language Film Oscar". oscars.org. Archived from the original on 18 May 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
  7. ^ "'Myn Bala' heads to Oscars". Variety. 24 September 2012. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
  8. ^ "Oscars: Kazakhstan Nominates 'The Old Man' for Foreign Language Category". Hollywood Reporter. 30 September 2013. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  9. ^ Holdsworth, Nick (26 August 2015). "Oscars: Kazakhstan Selects 'Stranger' for Foreign-Language Category". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
  10. ^ Holdsworth, Nick (29 September 2016). "Oscars: Kazakhstan Selects 'Amanat' for Foreign-Language Category". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  11. ^ Holdsworth, Nick (23 September 2017). "Oscars: Kazakhstan Selects 'Road to Mother' for Foreign-Language Category". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  12. ^ "Film Ayka about migrant woman from Kyrgyzstan enters Oscar long-list". Kabar News Agency. 9 October 2018. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  13. ^ "Academy Unveils 2019 Oscar Shortlists". The Hollywood Reporter. 17 December 2018. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  14. ^ "Oscars: Kazakhstan Selects 'Golden Throne' for Best International Feature Category". The Hollywood Reporter. 1 October 2019. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  15. ^ "Фильм "Плач великой степи" выдвинули на "Оскар" от Казахстана". Times.kz. 4 December 2020. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  16. ^ a b "Kazakh Director Adilkhan Yerzhanov's Film Enters Oscar's Longlist". The Astana Times. 15 November 2021. Retrieved 15 November 2021.
  17. ^ "Latest Academy News". 10 September 2014. Retrieved 30 October 2017.