The Thirty Boys: Uyghur Meshrep trailer
The Thirty Boys / Ottuz Oghul. 2022
A film by Mukaddas Mijit
Uyghur communities in Kazakhstan occupy an uneasy space, one eye towards the growing ethnic nationalism of their host country, one eye towards China’s ongoing policies of securitisation, incarceration and cultural erasure in their homeland. This film documents the attempts made by Uyghurs in Kazakhstan to revive traditional meshrep gatherings as a way to sustain Uyghur language and culture, and to strengthen their communities. Meshrep are hot, convivial events involving eating, joking, music and dancing, which forge lasting bonds among groups of men called the Thirty Boys. The film shows the potential for grassroots mobilisation of heritage to provide a forum for negotiating tensions around identity and religion, and a space for collective action.