Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

A trio of siblings are made homeless. They collectively own a small plot of land on which they must build a house before the state takes it away. It's a hopeless task as they have no money, tools, or raw materials with which to build.

The family consists of two elder brothers and a young girl. The crux of the drama is making what they can of a desperate situation. They form a memorable set of players – and the clever, understated cinematography helps enormously, with odd, disconcerting compositions emphasising distance and loneliness.

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They are bitter siblings but a resourceful bunch amid their poverty, paucity of resources, petty thievery and ignorance of ever-changing land law. Marking out the plot of land with plastic bottles and sticks instead of flags, fixing broken shoes with scotch tape. State bureaucrats and policemen visit with instructions to build a foundation on the plot in two weeks. It's a particularly leaden metaphor of the shaky family seeking mutual reconciliation. The actors sell it.

Constructors is a well-made comic tragedy, opening with a child's voice over, detailing a brief history of conquest and land ownership. Even their stake of claim is ill-considered - "Where is our plot?" - I get the impression that the West's skilled land spivs would eat them alive. It's a languid film, photographed in slow, formal, static yet utterly beautiful monochrome. Pillow shots are scattered throughout, inviting us to take in the dustbowl environment, the unfussy acting carefully setting up the sparse but effective dialogue.

It's a slight but engaging enough piece of human cinema, laced with just enough gentle laughs (the younger brother keeps longingly staring at a picture of the Pyramids) to see it beyond the grim circumstances to the end.

Reviewed on: 20 Jun 2013
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Three bickering siblings are forced to work together to build a house quickly so that their family land won't be confiscated.

Director: Adilkhan Yerzhanov

Writer: Adilkhan Yerzhanov

Starring: Rauf Khabibulin, Yerbolat Yerzhanov, Aliya Zainalova

Year: 2012

Runtime: 67 minutes

Country: Kazakhstan


EIFF 2013

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