By Esther Lee, Production Designer
There comes a point in everyone's life when it feels like the puzzle pieces finally begin to come together. This project was that moment for me. It was near the end of my year term as an English volunteer in Kyrgyzstan when I first heard about the project. I was on the phone with Euge when she asked me, "So now that your time there's almost done, what are your next steps?" I did not know. I was even thinking about staying in Kyrgyzstan longer. "Why don't you think about joining the project?," she said.
The dream that I had as a kid was, "I want to go into Hollywood... because if I can impact Hollywood, I can impact the world." Thus, I ventured into the world of production design, but ended college loving the design aspect, but not really interested in the majority of the stories that were told. So I ended up putting what I learned on the back burner, and before I knew it, one thing led to another, life happened, and I somehow ended up in Kyrgyzstan.
Kyrgyzstan was like a dream. I had never met such genuine and good-hearted people in my life. A nature-lover at heart, the mountains and landscape of Kyrgyzstan was like food to my soul. I met so many girls there, many of which became very dear to my heart. I had heard about bride kidnapping when I had first arrived, but didn't really understand it. None of my friends had been bride kidnapped, but I heard stories of my friend's mother who had been married before, but was still kidnapped and had no choice but to marry.
Because I had already fallen in love with the country and people, I thought, "Hey, why not?" and joined the project. Then Euge sent me the script, and that was when all the puzzle pieces began to come together. All the hopes and aspirations that I had in college studying production design came to mind, and fit in so perfectly with my heart for Kyrgyzstan. I knew stories were powerful... and what better gift to give to my friends than a story that can speak to their hearts?
Coming back to the States, as I researched more and more into bride kidnapping, and read the quotes of the victims, my heart broke. So many broken families leading to broken sons and daughters, all caught in this endless tradition from generation to generation. It could have been any one of my friends. And I'm sure unbeknownst to me, there is brokenness in many of my friends' families because of this issue. My friends there would always ask me, "Why Kyrgyzstan? Why did you come here?" and my response to them was always "Because no one else does." At this, they would always smile and say, "That explains everything." Nobody really knows about Kyrgyzstan, and because of it, its people never realize their true beauty. My heart is for the girls in Kyrgyzstan to know how valued they are, apart from what bride kidnapping tells them. There is so much hope for the future Kyrgyzstan... even with so much brokenness within, there is so much beauty that lies within the heart of this country, and our team can only hope that Kyrgyzstan would see its own beauty through this film.