Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




Film Screening & Discussion. Claustro
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Please join the Harriman Institute for a screening of Claustro. The screening will be followed by a discussion with the director Olzhas Bayalbayev. Moderated by Tatiana Efremova.

Claustro is a story filled with secrets and choices. It makes you wonder about the mysteries hidden in the dark and what we’d do to find our way out. In Claustro, Kema and Max meet by chance and get stuck in a strange loop inside Kema’s grandfather’s apartment. No matter where they go, they end up in the same rooms and hallways over and over again, like being trapped in a maze that doesn’t end.They’re not alone, though. Ghosts of children roam around, trapped just like them. Kema and Max start looking for clues, hoping to figure out why this is happening and how to get out. They learn that solving the apartment’s mystery might be their only chance to escape. But they find out escaping comes with a heavy choice. They’ve grown close in this weird place, and now they must decide: do something terrible to break free, or stay trapped forever in this endless loop, holding onto the special connection they’ve found.

Olzhas Bayalbayev is a young director. A native of Almaty, he rose to fame with his short motion picture ‘GOK’ (2021), fearlessly exposing corruption and injustice. The film sparked widespread resonance and debate in a country where the space for freedom of artistic expression has recently been shrinking. In February 2024, his first impressive feature ‘Claustro’ won the Best Film Award at the 2024 Boston SciFi Festival, the oldest genre festival in the U.S. Bayalbayev’s cinematic endeavors across genres like drama, horror, thriller, comedy, and historical epics explore the complexities of human existence and societal challenges. Through his lens, Bayalbayev navigates the depths of the human experience dissecting themes of identity, justice, and resilience. He holds a BA in Film Arts from the New York Film Academy, where he was a Bolashak Program fellow. A professional dombra player, Bayalbayev finds inspiration in Kazakh rich cultural heritage that fuels his creativity.