Germany/ Kazakhstan, 2013
dir. Emir Baigazin
Aslan, an intelligent and scientifically-minded 13-year-old boy living with his grandmother, is a new student in a high crime rate village school in Kazakhstan. Humiliated during a routine medical examination by the school gang leader Bolat, Aslan becomes the prime target and victim of the bullying that, it quickly becomes apparent, is endemic to the entire school system. Things go from bad to worse, until one day Aslan decides to take action against Bolat.
With outstanding performances from a largely non-professional young cast, Harmony Lessons is an idiosyncratic take on a universally topical story – of how an environment of dehumanising bullying and violence can turn smart teenagers into ostracised figures.
Among the awards the film has received, it was nominated for a Golden Bear and was awarded the Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution in Cinematography at the 2013 Berlinale Film Festival, and was awarded Best New Narrative Director – Special Jury Mention at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival.