The Tashkent Film Festival is back after a 24-year hiatus. To commemorate the occasion, Euronews has picked 9 films to watch from 2021’s screenings.
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, “Uzbekistan had a high reputation in the world of cinema both in the Sovietic area and in the world at large,” says Firdavs Abdukhalikov, general director of the festival and general director of the Cinematography Agency of Uzbekistan.
Yet unfortunately, “over the past 25 years, up until 2017, Uzbekistan experienced stagnation. We must admit it: Studios were closing, financing was being cut off, equipment was auctioned, the entire industry was on the verge of collapse,” he adds.
Today, it's a different story. Several reforms have taken place in Uzbekistan in the last few years, including in the field of culture. “The big push and the pinnacle of all these reforms was the Film Festival,” says Abdukhalikov.
The Central Asian country expects the festival to become a powerful stimulus for the development of the national industry. "It promises to become the cultural breakthrough of the year, and a nest for sharing experiences with the international cinema community, signing new contracts and generating ideas."
Here is Euronews' selection of the 9 films to watch from the 2021’s edition of the Tashkent International Film Festival, 65 years after it was first celebrated.
“Curfew”, directed by Amir Ramses, 2020
Curfew has an intriguing storyline and boasts a star-studded cast. The film takes place in late autumn 2013 during the curfew in Egypt and tells the story of a woman called “Faten" on the day she is released from prison after committing a horrible crime.
Curfew was a nominee for Best Film at the Cairo International Film Festival in 2020, and its lead actor, Ilham Shaheen, won the best actress.
“Photocopy”, directed by Tamer Ashry, 2017
The plot of this heartwarming film follows a retired old man in Cairo who gives his life a new meaning. The production gives a taste of 20th century Egypt and reminds us about how living life to the full and falling in love don't have an age limit.
The film received many awards including Best Arab Feature Film at the El Gouna Film Festival and Best Film at the Geneva International Oriental Film Festival in 2019.
“Where did Ramses go?” directed by Amr Bayoumi, 2019
This documentary premiered at the 21st edition of the Ismailia International Film Festival for Documentaries and Shorts and it won the festival's most prestigious award. The film follows the relocation of the statue of Ramses II from the Cairo square sharing the same name, to the Grand Egyptian Museum.
The director used precious footage he recorded himself during the 2006 relocation, which took more than 12 hours, in the charming atmosphere of the Egyptian capital.
“Dream about Sohrab”, directed by Ali Ghavitan, 2020
“Dream about Sohrab” traces the poetry of Sohrab Sepehri, who has been one of Iran’s most influential literary figures over the past five decades.
Ali Ghavitan (the director) travels to Kashan, the hometown of Sohrab, and resides in the home of a crazy man, in exchange for specific information about the literary figure. Due to his apparent resemblance to Sepehri, the director himself plays the role of the poet and painter.
“Martin Eden”, directed by Pietro Marcello, 2019
The dramatic film won 12 awards and received 52 nominations across the globe, including Best Film at the Venice Film festival in 2019. The lead actor, Luca Marinelli, also won the Volpi Cup for best actor, the principal award given to actors at the Venice Film Festival.
The plot of the film centres around Martin Eden, a man who is on a passionate quest to become part of the Italian literary elite while struggling to get out of poverty.
"Happy as Lazzaro", directed by Alice Rohrwacher, 2018
The Italian drama written and directed by Alice Rohrwacher was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. And although it missed out on this award, it took home the prize for Best Screenplay.
The film's storyline sees a kind Italian peasant get exploited by a noblewoman, but hints of fantasy and mystery give it an unexpected twist. The production is beautiful and original.
“The Road to Mother”, directed by Akan Satayev, 2016
The film is set during the time when the Soviets imposed rules for collective farming and permanent settlements on a region of nomadic dwellers. The story evolves throughout decades of war, where a mother and son fight to be reunited.
The Road to Mother was selected as the Kazakhstani entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards.
“Horse Thieves”, directed by Yerlan Nurmukhambetov, 2019
In this Khazak-Japanese production, we follow a family living in the foothills of the Tian Shan, the great mountain range that runs through Central Asia. Drama unfolds when a gang of thieves steals the herd of horses that belonged to the village and turns the family’s life upside down. A mysterious stranger comes to their aid.
The film was nominated at the Shanghai International Film Festival for the Audience Choice Award for film in 2020.
“Oralman”, directed by Sabit Kurmanbekov, 2016
Under Soviet rule in the 1930s, many individuals and families left Kazakhstan for neighbouring states. Oralman is the official term for ethnic Kazakhs who came back to their home country after it became independent from Soviet rule in 1991.
The film Oralman tracks the story of an ethnic Kazakh family returning to their homeland. The film explores the issues and concepts of identity and home.