Feature Documentary – 2010

A film by Maxim Pozdorovkin and Joe Bender.

What does it mean for a nation to start anew? For Kazakhstan, the answer is to build Astana, the world's youngest capital, a utopian city of the future where skyscrapers and cranes stretch as far as the eye can see. Construction workers, TV reporters, and official tour guides spend their lives in the service of this city-in-progress. Capital tells the story of Kazakhstan's new capital as it celebrates its tenth anniversary. Military parades, monumental architecture, song competitions, and human pyramids are only one side of the story; the other tells of thousands of migrants arriving to take part in their nation's new experiment. They come to Astana to build its golden monuments, to keep its markets open long after dark, and to push the city's frontiers deeper into the empty plains. Longtime residents watch as a glistening new city rises up across the river and their dusty Soviet village turns into a "pearl of the steppe." As fear over the global financial climate spreads, leaving construction sites empty and the future of Kazakhstan's dream city uncertain, the residents find themselves caught between the official vision of Astana and the realities of life on utopia's outskirts.

Filmed on location in Astana, Capital offers a glimpse into the ongoing development of a metropolis and the symbol of a nation.

Directed by Maxim Pozdorovkin

Produced by Joe Bender and Maxim Pozdorovkin

Director of Photography Joe Bender