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“This movie brought together ambitious directors, actors, cameramen. There haven’t been that many great films coming out of Kazakhstan, and we showed we could do something by ourselves.”

Kazakhs cite the promotion of a positive image via portrayals of Kazakhstan’s modern culture and ancient history as a key reason for their government’s support for the film industry. Last year, a feature film depicted President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s rural childhood predictably casts the leader of 20 years in a glowing light.

And then there’s ‘Borat’

“One reason film is such a big issue in Kazakhstan is ‘Borat,’ ” said Mr. Helmer, the German filmmaker and teacher.

Mr. Baron Cohen’s send-up of life in America via the “reporting” of a culturally obtuse, Pamela Anderson-obsessed Kazakh TV presenter created an image that many Kazakhs have found hard to stomach.

“It was impossible to explain to my students that ‘Borat’ is a film that makes fun of Americans. That is because anywhere [my students] go in the world, when they say they are from Kazakhstan, people smile and say, ‘Ah, Borat!’ “

Still, Ms. Katchko says Kazakhfilm is putting a major emphasis on the domestic market. That both “The Tale of the Pink Rabbit” and “Myn Bala” focus on youthful heroes is no coincidence: Ms. Katchko says the main cinema-going audience in Kazakhstan is between 12 and 25 years old.

“In general, a young audience goes to see films,” she says. “For 15 years, there was really no real filmmaking in Kazakhstan. For those who are 40 now — when they were 20 there were no films to watch.

“So basically, we now have to educate a new generation. Because I hope that those who are now 20 and 25 will continue the habit of going to see films.”

Mr. Nurpeisov, the actor, says creative young people such as those involved in making “The Tale of the Pink Rabbit” — which he likens to a Kazakh take on Guy Ritchie, the British director of the wisecracking caper flicks “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch” — are a driving force in Kazakhstan’s burgeoning film industry.

“Who can best speak to that audience? Their peers, their own generation,” he says. “If this movie had been made by an older director, it wouldn’t have been so successful.”

“Myn Bala” is expected to draw swarms of young movie fans when it opens April 26. Even the casting process has contributed to the hype: 22,000 hopefuls competed for the lead role, which eventually went to 17-year-old Asylkhan Tolepov.

Whether it will succeed in winning over international audiences remains to be seen. This is not the first time the government has sunk major funding into a historical epic that glorified Kazakhstan’s history. But the last attempt, the 2005 “Nomad: The Warrior” — largely a foreign production backed by Kazakh money — was an international flop.

Even so, the predominantly Kazakh team behind the $7 million production of “Myn Bala” hopes its homegrown adventure will put the country’s film industry on the map — and maybe even eclipse the image of “Borat.”