75 min

In development

May It Be a Girl


Directing: Katerina Suvorova


Ulbolsyn, a teenage girl, lives in the outskirts of the big city of Almaty. Her life is firmly invested in the affairs of a large family – caring for younger sisters, house and kitchen work, helping in an unstable family business with a grocery store and caring for an aging grandmother, who lives in a neighboring village; and all of this is mixed with lessons at a local school. She withstands this seemingly not age-appropriate role assigned to her with calm acceptance, which contrasts so much with the name that she bears: "Ulbolsyn – may it be a boy", following an old tradition of name giving, where the family’s expectations of having boys is expressed. As if one could imagine that her presence in this family could be replaced by another person. However, behind her silence, we see questions and her real feelings being born and multiplied. One day, the anger in Ulbolsyn has grown like a flaming flower blooming, which leads her to the decision to change her name, and start talking and acting the way she wants.

A details-oriented and intimate camera takes us into the world of Ulbolsyn with her everyday routine full of difficulties, challenges and self-reflection. Filmed in a poetic and artistic visual style, the story of Ulbolsyn is accompanied by several smaller stories of other women who are dealing with names from the same category. They are all different in age and class, coming from both cities and villages and they all have various views on this specific kind of naming tradition and, in general, on the role and position of women in our society. 

This is the story of several women, united by being “non-preferred” by their families. At the same time, it reflects on the standing of many women in our whole society, with the only difference being that the general non-preference is inscribed in the protagonist’s IDs and in conclusion – to all of us and our identity. Do we still accept it today?


Ex Oriente Film 2022 projects revealed
30. 5. 2022

Ex Oriente Film 2022 projects revealed

We are proud to present 12 documentary projects that have been selected for the 20th edition of the Ex Oriente Film workshop. Find all about them in this article.
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