An extraordinary tale of love and devotion for our time.
It is August 25th, 2006.
Geldy Kyarizov is shackled in his cell and escorted roughly down a long and cold, concrete-lined corridor by several unkempt prison guards. He is berated with threats that are slurred and spat into his face and the stench of stale alcohol washes over his skin.
He is bundled into a waiting, windowless van and the doors slam shut.
He is alone.
The ride is rough and he braces himself against the inner wall.
An ill-fitting panel attracts his eye as a slice of daylight penetrates the dark interior.
Geldy presses his face against cold metal. The van is motoring through a rough, industrial wasteland. The landscape is bleak and grey and devoid of contrast.
A break in the clouds brings a flash of color and form.
The van breaks into open countryside and the grass is green and fertile and Geldy presses closer to the crack. The cold air forces streams of tears from his eye and…
Racing alongside the van at full gallop, a horse appears – head pulsing like a jackhammer, ears flat against its skull, mane flowing like thick fingers of silk and its huge, black eyes are fixed and focused.
Geldy shifts position excitedly and he changes his sightline and the van bounces over rough terrain and he is severely knocked about. He comes again to the sliver of light and looks outside…
The horse has vanished.
The open valley has reverted to derelict buildings and low, monochromatic skies press down with an intolerable weight.
Geldy is confused and angry and sad.
He lies down on the dirty, oil soaked floor of the van and closes his eyes as the van pushes through the dark and ominous gates of Ovadan Depe prison.
THE MINISTER OF HORSES.
With every step of his processing to the prison we see (in flashback) echoes of the events leading to his initial incarceration.
Geldy works at the Ministry of Trade. He is embroiled in the protest to cease the exportation of horses for meat. He organizes horse races, raises attention and creates enemies, as this issue is further uncovered.
He befriends the father of the future love of his life - Yulia Serebryannik. It is a time of violent discrimination and antisemitism.
Geldy tackles and openly condemns the threats to the gene pool of the famous breed of horses known as Akhal Teke.
Geldy tries to maintain middle–of-the-road political stance amidst the collapse of the Soviet Union. Notable conflicts arise at the highest levels of government and vendettas are assured as Geldy’s popularity rises.
Not least is that of Turkmenistan leader, President Saparmurat Niyazov.
He openly opposes Geldy’s work and assures that he is coerced and threatened and made to confess on television, slandering himself, saying he is guilty of embezzlement and stealing horses.
President Niyazov begins a public censure of Geldy.
Geldy has a heart attack and is left with paralysis on his left side. He is summoned to court from his hospital bed, surrounded by security.
Yulia stands in defense of her husband in court and she is attacked by one of the National Security Committee members and grabbed about the neck and threatened with her life.
President Niyazov discredits Geldy and strips him of his title and imprisons him on a host of trumped up charges including theft.
All through the criminal proceedings and domestic struggles, the constant force in Geldy’s life is his wife Yulia. She is ever-present and works tirelessly to free her husband.
Geldy’s lawyers are under the influence of the KGB and try to convince Geldy to agree with what the KGB investigators are saying so as not to complicate his relationship with them.
Geldy is presented with 6 years of imprisonment and the court erupts at the corruption of the law. The case has been fabricated on President Niyazov’s orders and carried out by the employees of the Committee for National Security and delivered by the judges.
OVADAN DEPE PRISON
[ How much detail of prison life needs to be included?]
[ How many relationships need to be established? Who are the key players in the prison?]
[ What is Yulia doing on the outside?]
[How is Geldy’s health deteriorating?]
[What are the circumstances that dictate Geldy’s release?]
INCIDENTAL AND TRANSITIONAL MOMENTS
Geldy recounts stories of his adventures on horseback; the horse returns to Geldy during his dreams; Geldy becomes an inspiration for other prisoners; scenes of abuse and torture are witnessed against Geldy drifting to a brighter place – he conjures up the strength to endure inhumane treatment with the voice and the love of his wife entering the cell and wrapping his body in a protective armor.
The story closes with Geldy still imprisoned - but his soul takes flight on the back of a noble Akhal Teke. We witness the power of love and the promise of freedom and we witness redemption…
And as we pull back further, we see thousands of hands on cell bars and we feel the gravity of the underlying reality that so many people are still languishing in prison under false pretenses, forgotten and alone.