Capital Synopsis 2

What does it mean for a nation to start anew? For Kazakhstan, the answer is to build Astana, the world's youngest capital, a utopian city of the future where skyscrapers and cranes stretch as far as the eye can see. Construction workers, TV reporters, and official tour guides spend their lives in the service of this city-in-progress. Capital, a documentary film by Maxim Pozdorovkin and Joe Bender, tells the story of Kazakhstan's new capital as it celebrates its tenth anniversary. Military parades, monumental architecture, song competitions, and human pyramids are only one side of the story; the other tells of thousands of migrants arriving to take part in their nation's new experiment. They come to Astana to build its golden monuments, to keep its markets open long after dark, and to push the city's frontiers deeper into the empty plains. Longtime residents watch as a glistening new city rises up across the river and their dusty Soviet village turns into a "pearl of the steppe." As fear over the global financial climate spreads, leaving construction sites empty and the future of Kazakhstan's dream city uncertain, the residents find themselves caught between the official vision of Astana and the realities of life on utopia's outskirts.

Filmed on location in Astana, Kazakhstan, Capital offers a glimpse into the ongoing development of a metropolis and the symbol of a nation.

Director | Max Pozdorovkin

Bio: Maxim Pozdorovkin is an award-winning filmmaker, writer and media artist based in New York. His most recent film, Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, where it won a Special Jury Award. The film has played at film festivals around the world and premiered domestically on HBO. Maxim’s first feature film, CAPITAL, is a modern-day city symphony about the construction of Astana, a utopian city in the center of Kazakhstan. Maxim's curatorial work includes Flicker Alley’s Landmarks of Early Soviet Film box-set, which received The 2012 National Society of Film Critics - Film Heritage Award. Maxim holds a PhD from Harvard University and is presently an artist fellow at Harvard's Society of Fellows. Maxim’s next film, THE NOTORIOUS MR. BOUT, is a feature length documentary about the international arms dealer Viktor Bout and is slated to premiere in early 2014. Both THE NOTORIOUS MR. BOUT and THE GUN SHOW continue Maxim’s research on the arms trade undertaken at Harvard University.

Co-director / director of photography | Joe Bender

Bio: Joe Bender is a filmmaker, scholar, and media artist based in Paris, France. His first feature, CAPITAL, explores the intersections of ideology, urbanism, and everyday life in the construction of Kazakhstan's new capital city, Astana. Joe's current work includes EN DIRECT / THE STORY GETS TOLD, a documentary on the French militant production company Audiopradif; the trans-media platform THE GUN SHOW, a multimedia forum for research and debate on small arms proliferation and gun culture; and RAINBOW FARM, a documentary about the dramatic end of a hippie libertarian utopia in southern Michigan.