Interview with Lilya Turusbekova in 1989 by Vladimir Mikhailov. Published in book: Mikhailov V.I. Film of memory. People and destinies of Kyrgyz cinema. – B. Salam Publishing House, 2007 -524 p.


The film studio “Kyrgyzfilm” has finished work on the documentary film “Myskal”, dedicated to the folk singer Myskal Omurkanova. We are talking with the director of this film, Lilya Turusbekova.

– Lilya Jusupovna, what interested you in this topic, why did you consider it possible and necessary for yourself to turn to it?

– You know, Myskal Omurkanova has always been a big personality for me. She knew great fame during her lifetime – the people loved her very much. If we recall singers similar to her in scale, only Ruslanova could compare with her. She had a unique voice, and I, as any lover and admirer of her talent, can only say the most enthusiastic words about her. She occupies a special place in Kyrgyz art and stands apart in it, I would say. For all these reasons, she made me interested so much. For a long time I wanted to make a film about her, but somehow my hands did not reach. Recently, to my joy, the famous musicologist Balbai Alagushev brought a script about Myskal. I immediately took to it. I knew, of course, that there would be many difficulties, but … if I already took it…

I know that there are very few documentary materials about Myskal Omurkanova. How did you get out of this difficult situation?

– Fortunately, something survived during the Decade of Kyrgyz Art in Moscow. Cameramen of Central Studio of documentary films shooted concerts.

Do you mean the second decade of Kyrgyz art of 1958?

– Yes, on the 58th. In 1959, a film about the decade was released. However, Myskal was not there. The fact is that her whole number turned out to be in a technical reject. Nevertheless, smart filmmakers did not throw it away, but, on the contrary, put it in order, adjusted the synchronism and left it in the archive. I did not even know this stuff existed. It was like a gift from heaven for me, when I listened to her performance of “Alymkan” and “Kyz-Jibek”, and I got goosebumps. This is some kind of miracle. I put these two numbers in the film in full. The viewer has never seen them. We should listen to her songs in the original, in the Kyrgyz language. They are unique, and the manner of its performance is unique. There is an episode where she pulls one note for two minutes.

Could you tell us about what was left behind the scenes, in particular, about the tragic finale of Myskal’s life path?

Myskal Omurkanova

– You know, I would not take Myskal’s fate so tragically – after all, she managed to know fame during her lifetime. By the way, when she came from amateur performances, they wanted to introduce her to the musical theater; they tried to make her an opera singer. For some reason, we have such an idea – if you have musical abilities, then you definitely need to go to the opera house. Nevertheless, to her credit, she found her own way. By the way, the first person who paid attention to her unique gift was the hero Kojomkul. After all, among other things, he was also an outstanding public figure; he worked as the chairman of the village council. Moreover, it was he who directed her to engage in amateur performances. First, she showed herself in her native village, then in the region, then in the capital, and so she went, went up. This was in the mid-30s. Therefore, Kojomkul played a significant role in her fate. In addition, two more words about her life, because it remained behind the scenes. Her husband – he was a komuz player – died in the war.

She herself did not play komuz at first, she only sang, he later taught her. They had a happy marriage, but a short one. Her biography was generally very successful at first.

Then there were some dramatic moments. Maybe it was because her repertoire was limited. This, of course, is not an official opinion, but my own. Then, the test of glory, as you know, is sometimes the hardest thing to endure. We somehow get used to the trials of life, we try to overcome them, but copper pipes … But nevertheless, everyone who talked to her says that she was a very good person.

Her fate, I think, was characteristic of the era…

– The fate of any artist is probably characteristic. After all, even now, look, modern talents, too, as a rule, make their way alone. We do not have the mechanisms of social protection of the artist. She, of course, needed directors, good organizers. After all, she gave only what lay on the surface – her pure voice, her bright gift. We tend to be late in noticing the uniqueness of a person.

Why did you decide (together with the author of the script, obviously) not to tell Myskal’s biography in detail, but made something like a lyrical sketch. After all, you must admit, now many, especially young people, do not know this wonderful performer.

– The simplest explanation is probably due to lack of space. After all, it is impossible to embrace the immensity in a short film. Of course, we wanted to make the film larger in order to cover Myskal’s biography in more detail, but … many reasons prevented this.

Do you plan to continue this theme?

– For the last two years I have been working with interesting creative people. Not so long ago I made a film about Claudia Antipina; this is a unique person, an ethnographer with a very interesting fate. And now I’m making a picture about a folk craftsman saddle-maker… The themes of all these pictures intersect in their essence – they are about folk talents. I am generally very attracted to such people. Once I made a film about Muratbek Ryskulov. Now no one can bypass this material.

– I think that we, filmmakers, should use every opportunity to film these unique people, otherwise it will be too late tomorrow…




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Владимир Михайлов

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