What do we know about Samal Yeslyamova?

Kazakhstani actress Samal Yeslyamova winning the title of the Best Performance

At the end of last week people from all over the world the next time heard the name of our country – Kazakhstan – from the big stages. It was not a sport event this time, but an annual film festival held in Cannes, France, known as the Cannes Film Festival. The person to thank and congratulate for it is a Kazakhstani actress Samal Yeslyamova winning the title of the Best Performance by an Actress for her role as the main character in Sergei Dvortsevoi’s movie named “Ayka”.

So, what do we know about the girl winning such a prestigious nomination?


Samal Yeslyamova is not that much a public person. It has been only few days that she created a profile on Instagram and posted some photos from the Festival.

However, scant data from the open sources tells us that Samal was born on 1 September 1984 (full 33 years old now) in Petropavlovsk, the capital of the North Kazakhstan region. Her parents still live there. She got her professional drama training from the Russian Institute of Theater Arts known as GITIS (2011) which is believed to be one of the leading drama universities in the post-Soviet space.      

Her previous works’ list includes only a single role in a movie “Tulip” that saw the stages in 2008 having been also directed by Sergei Dvortsevoi. By the way, the film won the gran-prix of the “Un Certain Regard Award” at Cannes Film Festival in 2008. Samal made her debute in the film after being found by Dvortsevoi’s casting agents in her hometown. At that time the girl has just graduated from the high school. She played the sister of the main character.     

And what about the role Samal played in “Ayka”?


The film is a co-production of five different companies from Russia, Poland, China, Germany and Kazakhstan. Sergei Dvortsevoi, a director of the movie, is also basically from Kazakhstan. He was born in Shymkent and spent a big part of his life there before moving to Moscow.

The film shooting took seven years for it to be seen by the Cannes jury. The movie tells a story of a Kyrgyz migrant woman who is living a harsh life in Moscow. After the unplanned pregnancy she leaves her new-born son in the hospital, understanding that she can’t give him anything without a stable job and the proper place to live. However, soon the maternal instincts take over and the woman starts to search for the child.

The shooting made Samal work extremely hard on her role. She had to learn Kyrgyz language, thankfully it is quite close to Kazakh. Also, she started making connections with some real migrants from Kyrgyzstan in Moscow. They told her their tough stories of hard labour and the lack of opportunity to see their kids left back in the home country. Samal says that she became quite close with some of the women and keeps in touch with them.

The director himself admits that Samal’s role was complicated and hard enough as she had to be in picture almost 99% of the time and every second of her playing had to be filled with suffering.      

The movie will be released to the public in autumn this year.

Samal’s plans for the future

The actress tells that there is still no proper perception that she has won the prize. All that has changed for now is that she is receiving more phone calls than before.

It is worth mentioning that Samal expresses her big thanks to her nation, her compatriots.

At the press-conference in Astana that was held at the beginning of the week the actress admits that she is receiving now some proposals from the world-known directors but has not decided on any of them yet. She is only sure that once she starts to work on any new role she will do her best there.

What for the nearest future, Samal tells that she simply wants to have some rest, which is understandable after being involved in the seven-years long shooting.  



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