Striking and poetic, TO GET TO HEAVEN FIRST YOU HAVE TO DIE confirms director Djamshed Usmonov (Angel On The Right) as one of the brightest talents of post-Soviet cinema. Sparer, bleaker and much more unsettling than his previous films, it stars Khurched Golibekov as the sullen, wide-eyed Kamal, who has been married for a few months, but is unable to consummate his marriage. Learning that there is nothing physically wrong with him after visiting a doctor, Kamal sets off to the city in an attempt to cure his impotence. With his child-like, country-boy naiveté, he struggles to meet anyone until a chance encounter on a bus when he picks up a young married Russian factory worker. This accidental meeting takes him on a far more troubling and darker journey than he was counting on.
Likened by critics to Krzysztof Kieslowski’s 'A Short Film About Love', Usmanov's absolutely sure-footed direction and storytelling make for a film that gently, gradually pulls the rug out from under our feet, in a classic example of less-is-more film-making.