The 15th edition of Uzbekistan's Tashkent International Film Festival brought together film lovers and professionals from more than 50 countries to celebrate Central Asian cinema.
World-famous directors and actors came to the capital of Uzbekistan to reward films and introduce the world of cinema to the next generation of cineastes.
“This festival brings together filmmakers from 52 countries under the motto of peace, progress and enlightenment; this is the initiative of our president," explained Festival Director, Firdavs Abdukhalikov.
"Uzbekistan has always been the heart of the Great Silk Road. It was a kind of melting pot, where there was an exchange of ideas, [and] creativity, so this festival serves as a continuation of these traditions,” he told Cult.
Students of cinema schools from various countries took part in the festival competition programme. Teams had exactly five days to produce a short movie using locations in Uzbekistan.
The Azerbaijani film, 100 Steps, received the Cinema in 5 Days Best Film award.
“We didn’t know the city, we didn’t know the language, it was very difficult," explained Yusif Gasimli, who was the film's director of photography.
"We united all together as a team to overcome the obstacles in order to achieve today’s award.”
Numerous master classes by world-class stars were conducted during this festival. Hassan Nazer, whose 2022 film, Winners, was submitted at the Oscars, explained how to use non-actors in a film.
“It’s a very big risk, but they could bring so much creativity and authenticity in the film because they are not acting, they deliver natural things," Hassan revealed.
The famous duo from the 1998 film Taxi, Frederic Diefenthal and Samy Naceri, shared their experience with young actors.
“You should listen to no one, neither your parents nor your friends, you have to follow your dream to the end,” said Samy Naceri.
“I do my job with the heart, I'm lucky to be able to say that even if it's a job, and I'm going to shoot there night or day, I can say that I'm going to play, and not that I’m going to work," Frederic Diefenthal told Cult.
The culmination of the festival took place in Uzbekistan's southeastern city of Samarkand, in the newly created, antique-style Eternal City, which will no doubt find itself used as a backdrop in movies.
Central Asian cinema was the festival’s main competition category.
“I consider this one of the best festivals because it finds films that can hardly be seen. Films from Central Asia are simply not available in Europe, we don’t see them, and here is an opportunity to meet the creators and see their work," said film director Krzysztof Zanussi.
The international jury, headed by Zanussi, granted the Best Film award to Sunday. This Uzbekistani film tells the story of children who want to change their world and their old parents who are happy with what they already have.
“In Central Asia, there are still many unsaid, unshown topics," revealed the film's director Shokir Kholikov. "This is a good opportunity for the youth. You just need to act. Need to make these films while there’s time. We need to make movies."