Flowers of freedom

Mirjam Leuze
Germany 2014 | 96 Min. | OmeU
Q&A with: Mirjam Leuze

Every day huge trucks thun­der through the Kyrgyz vil­lage of Barskoon. They are car­ry­ing a deadly freight: cyanide, which is used to extract gold at the nearby Kumtor mine. In 1998, one of the cyanide trucks crash­es into the river that runs through the vil­lage. People die and hun­dreds of vil­lagers fall ill. After seven years – in which the Kyrgyz gov­ern­ment does noth­ing – a hand­ful of coura­geous women begin to fight for the rights of the vic­tims. Erk­ingül and her fellow cam­paign­ers found a small envi­ron­men­tal organ­i­sa­tion, block the road lead­ing to the mine and even­tu­al­ly manage to secure 3.7 mil­lion US dol­lars in com­pen­sa­tion from the Kyrgyz -Cana­di­an gold mine.
The women are also at the fore­front of a rev­o­lu­tion which top­ples the gov­ern­ment under Pres­i­dent Bakiyev in spring 2010. After the first demo­c­ra­t­ic elec­tion, Erkingul man­ages to secure a seat in par­lia­ment and con­tin­ues to lead the fight against the gold mines as a politi­cian. Her friends stay behind in the vil­lage.
Stay­ing very close to the activists, this humor­ous film describes not only the polit­i­cal com­mit­ment dis­played by these women in their strug­gle for jus­tice, but also how people manage to sur­vive in a Kyrgyz vil­lage.