5 Questions With Maria Brendle

As we make our way towards the upcoming 94th Oscars, it seemed like a prime opportunity to take a look at a film that has been shortlisted for the approaching awards ceremony. An incredible film focused on a tough topic, Ala Kachuu (Take and Run) puts a spotlight on a terrifying practice, that of bride kidnapping, specifically in Kyrgyzstan. While it’s a practice that is done throughout the globe, it’s especially prevalent for Kyrgyz women, many of whom are put through so much at such a young age. We spoke to the film’s director, Maria Brendle, about the film and their process. Also be sure to check out our coverage of the film, which appeared a short time ago in our spotlight on films by distribution company Salaud Morisset.

Q: Tell us more about your film. How did it come to be? 

MB: Ala Kachuu – Take and Run deals with the important issue of bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan. A custom that  exists under the guise of tradition not only in Kyrgyzstan but all around the world. Every year, at least 12,000  Kygyz women are violently abducted and forced into marriage. Although, officially against the law, 13% of  women are under the age of 18 on their wedding day. These are frightening figures, which conceal thousands of  individual fates and I am hoping Ala Kachuu will draw attention to the situation of these women. I am disturbed  by the idea that a woman as young as 15, has to live in constant fear of leaving the safety of her home, just  because at any moment, a stranger may come and take her as his wife. I want to encourage all women to stand  up for their rights. If there is one thing we women have in common, no matter where we come from: Our voice  should be heard when we say no. 

Q: What was your budget? 

MB: Our budget was 290,000 USD. 

Q: What was the biggest takeaway from making the film? 

MB: It was an amazing experience to see how people from different countries and different cultures came together to  work on a common goal: To support the rights of women whose lives are ruled by others. I was deeply  impressed by the Kyrgyz-Swiss crew’s respectful way of dealing with each other, their intercultural team spirit  and their openness. This led to one of the most valuable experiences in my life and one I am very grateful for. 

Q: What was the biggest challenge in making this film? 

MB: The film was produced by a Swiss production company and shot in Kyrgyzstan by a team consisting of both  Swiss and Kyrgyz filmmakers. Due to the cultural differences, it was challenging to overcome the language  barrier and to find a common work rhythm. It took a lot of preparation, was a huge challenge and a big  adventure. We had to deal with scorpions on set, power outages, cars that didn’t arrive and many other issues.  It was very important to always remain patient and flexible. Some things just don’t work out the way you thought  they would. 

Q: What is next for you? 

MB: I’m writing a feature film about a woman whose courageous efforts saved the lives of many people. She is a  quiet heroine who has never received the recognition she deserves. It will be a historical movie based on true events.

Thanks to Maria for their time and for answering our questions. A big congratulations goes to them as well for the success of the film and its placement on the Oscar Shortlist. Be sure to check out our coverage of the film, as well as so much more, only on BitPix.

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