Salaam, New York (Салам, Нью-Йорк) is a 2013 Kyrgyz film by director Ruslan Akun (Руслан Акун), who also directed and wrote 2011’s Bishkek, I Love You (Бишкек, я люблю тебя). Akun also wrote the film, along with Gulzhan Toktogulova (Гульжан Токтогулова). It was based on true events—Akun’s time studying at a visual arts school in New York—and one of Akun’s goals was to move away from the tragedy and pathos of much contemporary filmmaking and introduce a new, good-hearted, life-affirming hero into Kyrgyz cinema.
Like its predecessor, Salaam, New York is a romantic comedy—it was released on Valentine’s Day. But it travels far away from Akun’s previous subject matter of the city of Bishkek, instead telling the story of a Kyrgyz man who leaves his low-paying job in Kyrgyzstan to try to make his way in the big city and fulfill all his dreams.
Among the actors were several who had debuted in Bishkek, I Love You, plus others for whom it was their first acting gig. Few were professional actors; the casting was carried out through Internet voting. The movie was filmed in New York, which presented its own set of problems: getting filming permits, staying within their tight budget—which is why Akun ended up doing all the cooking for the filming crew, and making a police car out of a cheap Ford and some borrowed sirens.
The film was the highest-grossing film in Kyrgyzstan’s entire history since independence, and it was rated highly by audiences. It was shown abroad as well as in Kyrgyzstan.
Director: Ruslan Akun (Руслан Акун)
Stars: Bektemir Mamayusupov (Бектемир Мамаюсупов), Aida Tulebaeva (Аида Тулебаева), Marina Beyn (Марина Бэйн), Yulia Daurova (Юлия Даурова), Aleks Galper (Алекс Галпер), and others
Production studio: Nomadmen Films
Box office take: $700,000