SOCIALISM
The Eastern and Western facades of the cinema are lavishly decorated with bas-reliefs which symbols and characters closely clinging to each other tell romanticized stories of the most relevant ideological constructions at that time.

"For me, these stories on the walls are arman, a concentrated illustration of the dreams of that time," says Mayra Kubaniyazova, the last Soviet Director of the cinema. This year will mark twenty years since the day when she headed the "Arman". "Just imagine 1968 - space, virgin lands, construction of new cities... Of course, there is propaganda in this, but earlier it was impossible otherwise. However, not always and not everyone managed to create such pieces of monumental art beautifully, originally, in their own way."

Actor and producer Bopesh Zhandayev calls himself a "center guy". When he was in high school No.56, a few blocks from the Arman, he used to run to the cinema from lessons and remember it as a light-filled building ever since. He, like other Soviet people, was surrounded by the propaganda aesthetics of socialist realism from childhood and he can remember many ridiculous stories about how ideological images did not coincide with reality.
I do not see them [bas-reliefs] as a challenge to modern person
Bopesh Zhandayev, Artistic Director
However, the heroics of the "Arman" bas-reliefs today do not confuse Bopesh at all. "I do not see them as a challenge to modern person. After all, for example, we are talking about the artistic value of the paintings of Caravaggio or Raphael, and not about their function of religious propaganda. This is the legacy of the era, and it was like that. It would be very foolish now to erase these bas-reliefs and do something else in their place. It would be a sign of provincial thinking, squalor and feebleness of mind. The culture of cities is different because they try to preserve their history," says Bopesh.

Svetlana Romashkina, Editor-in-Chief of the Vlast online magazine, also grew up in Alma-Ata, but a generation later than Bopesh. Socialist propaganda was then already a thing of the past and disputed, society was rapidly changing, and new ideas appeared – perestroika (restructuring), acceleration, glasnost (transparency). Svetlana for a long time did not notice the Arman bas-reliefs and other examples of monumental art - just as people do not notice the usual everyday things.

"To appreciate it, it's not enough to just grow up with it or get used to it. It is necessary to know the history of this place, look at it - constantly pay attention to it and see it as special. If I had a child, I would show him/her all these mosaics and bas-reliefs, I would try to tell about them – how this painstaking work is done, how an artist thinks and what was the time when he created these images," says Svetlana.
To appreciate it, it's not enough to just grow up with it or get used to it. It is necessary to know the history of this place, look at it - constantly pay attention to it and see it as special
Svetlana Romashkina, Editor-in-Chief, Vlast online magazine
Nargiz Shukenova, Director of the Batyrkhan Shukenov Foundation and Producer of the Clique Film Festival, is from a generation of Millennials. She does not undertake to judge the "Arman" bas-reliefs. "It is very difficult to judge in retrospective, especially since any form of art can be called as propaganda of some values. Cultural products – art, theater, cinema and everything else – give reason to reflect these values, so I am for the preservation of artifacts of bygone eras. It is a collective memory of our past. Today we can reflect on the tragedies of that time – repression, famine, death of the Aral Sea and the Semipalatinsk test site, and this should be a very important mission for all of us. Past generations have been misled, but I am not sure that because of this I am ready to enter into conflict with them," says Nargiz.
It is very difficult to judge in retrospective, especially since any form of art can be called as propaganda of some values
Nargiz Shukenova
Her father, the actual Cinema Director Baurzhan Shukenov, worked in Kyzylorda in the 1980s, but he was often on business trips in the capital where he stayed at the "Kazakhstan" hotel and fought his way to the movies in "Arman". In his opinion, the propaganda motives of bas-reliefs and panels acquire not only historical value over time - as evidence of past eras - but also as socialist realism pieces of art, made in the technique inherent in that time. "This art, being national in form and socialist in content, is still modern, because it tells both about the ideology that prevailed then and about the people of those years, about our parents," he believes.
What is the monumental art of Kazakhstan now - a monument to the President or a statue of a camel in Gorky Park?
Svetlana Romashkina
"Today we see in it not propaganda of the empire which has sunk into oblivion, but an architectural decor that makes the city and the building unusual. The stories told here – the human spacewalk, the conquest of virgin lands, scientific progress - tell only part of the story. No one was allowed to reflect the cult of personality, collectivization, repression in the bas-relief, and even today no one does it. What is the monumental art of Kazakhstan now - a monument to the President or a statue of a camel in Gorky Park?" asks Svetlana.