In her haunting directorial debut, Sharipa Urazbayeva blurs the lines between fiction and documentary. Mariam is based on real events in the life of Meruert Sabbusinova, who stars in the title role as a semi-fictionalised version of herself. When her husband disappears from their remote village without a trace in bleak midwinter, Mariam/Meruert must find a way to provide for her four children in the face of state indifference. Charged with compassion and grounded by Sabbusinova’s remarkable evocation of her own grief and determination, Mariam is a portrait of a woman and a family transformed by events beyond their control.
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