Murabuldayeva on Creating Extraordinary Films

Producer Sholpan Murabuldayeva has a simple equation for deciding whether or not to take on a project. She communicates, “First, I read the script. If I love it, we discuss the budget. Having done so many films, it’s easy for me to tell what the budget should be simply from reading it. If they are receptive to reality, I’ll do it.” She concedes that not everyone is receptive to the truth of finances. It’s an artist’s temperament to dream but to materialize that dream takes someone gifted like Sholpan. While she’s worked on feature films like Underset, there’s something about the indie film community she finds particularly attractive. Less big studio involvement allows for a purity of voice in storytelling but also typically means finding creative ways to manifest a completed project. These situations are where Sholpan shines ala her work in acclaimed films such as Pearl and Knightfall. Vastly different in tone, these stories focus on the human interaction and challenges which outwardly appear mundane but when told properly become connective for us all.

Pearl is the kind of film which proves that the human emotion and connection supersede any mammoth budget and CGI wizardry. Essentially set in a modest living room and portraying the interaction between two characters on screen, the center of this story is the inability to heal as well as the decision to heal. Margaret is a hospice nurse who has devoted her life to taking care of people preparing to die. Upon arriving to assist her newest patient at his home, she is shocked to find that it is a lover of hers from twenty years ago. The relationship did not end well and we learn why as the film evolves. There’s a love triangle element to this which comes quite unexpectedly. Margaret is torn between her own emotional pain and that of her patient’s physical condition. Murabuldayeva asserts that researching cancer hospice was quite difficult but she was committed to a realistic and ethical portrayal of the scenario. Actual doctors served as consultants to give insight. The film has been received with great positivity globally in France (Short Film Corner - 2018 Cannes Film Festival), Russia (Official selection at OKNO, ChelKinoFest, Finalist at Shukshinfest), and of course America (Iranian Film Festival-San Francisco). Pearl reminds us that there are seasons to our lives which contain necessary chapters.

Sholpan took on the producer’s role for a very different type of theme in Knightfall. In a very modern sense, this psychological/horror questions our own ability to see ourselves as protagonist or antagonist in spite of facts to the contrary. Murabuldayeva hints, “I don’t want to give the specific details away but the subject matter needed to be handled very carefully to deliver the proper impact for the surprise ending. Chaaritha Dheerasinghe (director, co-writer, & co- executive producer of the film) hired me to work on this production due to my reputation of dealing with tough situations. I’m really proud to have been a part of making this film that has been so well received.” As with Pearl, Knightfall achieves the aspirational goal of all filmmakers; leaving the viewer to reflect and discuss long after they’ve watched the action on screen to consider whether they truly know themselves.

Written by Kelly King

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