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(Üshkürük -The Sigh of Memory)

Other title: Children of Opium

Directed and produced by Gulzat Egemberdieva.

Digital HD, color & black & white, approx. 60 min..

Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan


From legal use for pharmaceutical purposes to prohibition, trafficking, drug abuse and alcoholism, the extensive opium and other narcotic plantations, which took place since the 19th century in Northern Kyrgyzstan and Southern Kazakhstan, has profound and long-lasting psychological, social and political repercussions until the present day. Hoping to stir up what I would like to call the “sigh of memory” (Kyrg., Üshkürük]), this film attempts to respond to what can be called a collective trauma that started with events such as the Opium War in China, the flight of the Dungan and Uygur to Central Asia, and other events. The film will integrate interviews with people who worked on the Kyrgyz plantations, former members of the drug trade, police, and the medical profession. Üshkürük will also include drawings and animation illustrating the very roots of opium abuse and trafficking, from China to Turkestan, the Russian and Soviet empires, and beyond..

Renovabis Research Grant 2023 from DFF-Deutsches Filminstitut + Filmmuseum e.V.

Opium poppy harvesters in Kyrgyzstan
Opium poppy milk
Former opium dealer
Harvesting opium
Former opium poppy harvester
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