The Thirty Boys (Ottuz Oghul Meshrep) Full Film

The Thirty Boys (Ottuz Oghul Meshrep) Full Film. Produced by Uyghur Meshrep Project.

The Thirty Boys (Ottuz Oghul Meshrep) 2022. An ethnographic film, directed by Mukaddas Mijit.

Uyghurs 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. The Thirty Boys documents their attempts to revive traditional meshrep gatherings as a way to sustain Uyghur language and culture, and to strengthen their communities. Meshrep in Kazakhstan are hot, convivial events involving eating, joking, music and dancing, which forge lasting bonds among groups of men called the Thirty Boys. In stark contrast with the highly manufactured representations of the Uyghur meshrep tradition on Chinese media, this film shows the potential for grassroots mobilisation of cultural heritage to provide a forum for negotiating tensions around identity and religion, a space for collective action, and a response to the pressing question: how can Uyghurs in the diaspora preserve their culture?