REVIVAL
The return of cinema to "Arman" after the collapse of the Soviet film distribution system took more than ten years. In the early 2000s, cinema began to gain popularity again and the public revived the market with their interest. New cinemas began to appear in new centers of attraction for people - shopping malls.

At that time, Baurzhan Shukenov became the Director of "Arman". "I had to study all these years to keep up with technical progress and ensure sustainability of the film center. Digital projection in a few years then replaced the film one, and now this technology is also becoming a thing of the past at the same pace, giving way to laser projectors. The Internet and streaming services pose new challenges for us. I am sure – in order not to die, cinemas must become a new platform," he says.
I am sure – in order not to die, cinemas must become a new platform
Baurzhan Shukenov, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Batyrkhan Shukenov Foundation, Director of the Cinema
Baurzhan Shukenov's daughter Nargiz believes that today the cinema should not be a faceless continuation of boutiques in the mall and sell entertainment services of the same repertoire to the mass consumer. "The cinema should have a mission, leadership. Ideally, "Arman" is a cinema, exhibition and educational spaces which offer to spend time with like-minded people, among people with common values. The mission of cultural sites is to remain relevant, adequate and free," Nargiz says.

The "Arman" reconstructed in the 2000s was her first cinema. Her father had taken her there to the red hall to see Brian De Palma's Mission to Mars before he headed the legendary cinema.

"When my father started working there, the cinema became a regular form of my leisure and my place of strength. I hung out either with my friends or at the cinema," Nargiz says. "I could watch films for free, so I watched everything. A lot of my childhood memories are associated with "Arman": presentation of "Otan Ana" album of my uncle Batyr, concerts, presentations, parties, shooting. It was a fashionable place, but 10 years ago it seemed to me that many things are outdated and require changes. After 5 years, it became as obvious to me as possible."
The cinema should have a mission, leadership. Ideally, "Arman" is a cinema, exhibition and educational spaces which offer to spend time with like-minded people, among people with common values
Nargiz Shukenova, Director of the Batyrkhan Shukenov Foundation, Founder of the Clique Film Festival
Time has changed again, and "Arman" is changing too. What happened to this building and what lies ahead, the recent addition of Burger King and the opening of Starbucks, the reinterpretation of facades and interiors in their own way reflect what is happening to society and its identity. "It is difficult for me to predict what new form this process will take, but according to "Arman" it is quite possible to track and measure the jumble of ideas and meanings, that accompanies our recent history," says Nargiz.

One of the jumble layers that was hidden, but returned to the surface, was a panel on the second floor. A year and a half ago, Baurzhan Shukenov began to demolish the plasterboard wall, behind which the bas-relief was hidden. For almost twenty years of its half-century history, it was hidden from the eyes of people after reconstruction – its aesthetics did not meet the requirements of time. "When the panel opened to us – mutilated, stitched with metal, but still alive – Baurzhan said: "Do you feel how the building was breathing?". And we really felt it," says Svetlana Romashkina, Editor-in-Chief of Vlast website. "When I was invited to opening of the bas-relief, I already understood significance of the event. If it had happened 10 years ago, I probably would have treated it differently. Awareness of the value of artistic heritage returns to us gradually, after years of forgetting this art and architectural taste in general," she admits.

Baurzhan Shukenov himself considers this finding to be the impetus for changes in "Arman". "We began to understand the meaning of architecture, its importance in shaping the environment of human life. Almaty has unique things that shaped the environment in which our culture developed. Much was done thoughtlessly at specified time and it is important to return the energy of our buildings. I physically felt its revival, I am always drawn here," says Baurzhan. His daughter calls the discovery of the panel as "a kind of restoration of justice".
Photographer: Dastan Zhumagulov
I am sure that "Arman" hides a lot of interesting things – you just need to treat it with due respect
— Svetlana Romashkina
"Arman" reminds Svetlana a treasure box. "When addition of the entrance group was removed, a sign from the 1960s was discovered there. Then in Kyrgyzstan, on the shore of Issyk-Kul, a sculptural composition of a girl from a cinema was found, which was once presented to Cholpon-Ata", she says. "I am sure that "Arman" hides a lot of interesting things – you just need to treat it with due respect and explore it like any other asset. After all, it is a real monument – both for architecture and for our life".