One of the important achievements in the film industry of the Republic of Uzbekistan in the period of its independence has become the release of cinematography workers from the existing at that time rigid framework in their creative self-expression. In the years of independent development the idea about need of state regulation of domestic film production process was completely understood and implemented in a number of governmental decrees. Within the last ten years the film network has also been restored. Movie theaters gradually come back to the primary activity – display of movies. Film distribution agencies began to get profit from demonstration of national movies that served as a powerful stimulating impulse for development of the Uzbek national cinema.
In 25 years of independence in cinematography of Uzbekistan there have been some positive changes in the sphere of the state support and financing, which lack had negatively affected on its development in previous years. The state became an initiator of broad support of the domestic film industry. So, according to the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan I. Karimov “About creation of the State film company of the Republic of Uzbekistan” and the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan dated on May 6, 1992 the State film company of the country was founded, which purpose was further development of national cinema. By the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan “About creation of “Uzbekkino” State Joint Stock Company dated on April 29, 1996 and the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan the State Joint Stock Company “Uzbekkino” was formed. And by the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan “About improvement of management in the sphere of cinematography” dated on March 16, 2004 and the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan dated on March 17, 2004 the State Joint Stock Company “Uzbekkino” was transformed into “Uzbekkino” National Agency, which became the following strategically important step in development of national cinema.
The cinematography of Uzbekistan, undoubtedly, is a living and developing phenomenon, not frozen in its limits. Uzbekistan’s cinema experiences a certain upturn. We can already speak about an industry of this art form, in which cinematographers and film distributors, as well as audience are involved. The period of 1996-2000 was a time of returning of the film distribution to its original functions. It is also important that many movies of the national film distribution generate income not less than even Hollywood movies. However, many movies completely pay back costs of their creation. Thus, a certain part of national film projects is profitable. In recent years the cinematography of Uzbekistan has acquired the own numerous audience which visits the cinema halls showing domestic movies. This important social phenomenon that distinguishes our cinema from the situation in cinematography of other states of Central Asia was repeatedly noted by both foreign and domestic cinema experts. Considering this phenomenon of Uzbek cinema, it is natural to highlight several factors which create it. First of all it is a psychological factor, i.e. desire of a viewer to see himself in the image of the hero, who lives and acts on the screen, and opportunity to express the own innermost by means of cinematic language, as well as a cultural aspect – existence of the unique national entertainment system, which filled during many centuries and still fills the spiritual life of the Uzbek people. And one more important factor is a mytho-poetic perception of reality which was formed at the Uzbek viewer together with well-established folklore codes where the good always triumphs over evil.
Modern Uzbek cinema along with the ethno-cultural characteristic of life and living conditions of the people is attentive to universal human qualities and features of a contemporary’s inner world. Quantity of films about family, marriage, relationship of different generations becomes more and more. Films of such directors as Z. Musakov (“Boys in the sky”, 2003; “One day chronicle “, 2016), B. Adylov (“Zabarzhad”, 2007), T. Kalymbetov (“Aral is my happiness”, 2007), R. Batyrov (“Paradise is somwhere”, 2008), D. Kasymov (“Along the river”, 2009), R. Malikov (“Uncle”, 2014), and Sh. Abbasov (“Dilor, Dilor, dil va or…”, 2015) differ in the bright emotional palette and subtle psychological portrait of the characters.
Development dynamics of feature film has important indicators. In the second half of the 2000-s feature films were produced much more, than in the early 1990-ies. Since 2008, in Uzbekistan, more than 50 public and private movies, including feature, documentary and animation films are produced per year. Basic changes have touched also the genre and thematic maintenance of national feature film. Interpretation of history as factor of search of national identity is topical. Art can not exist without roots and cultural traditions focused on preservation of the past.
In the second half of the 1990-ies – 2000-s there was a series of feature films which concern various problems of the recent historical past and expose the realities of the Soviet life to a negative assessment. Among the films concerning the recent history opening life in one of villages of the Soviet period there is a movie by the director Yu. Azimov “Till dawn” (1993). In the film love, fidelity and soul breadth act as a spiritual perspective of viability of the heroes – members of a big family. The film of the director S. Nazarmukhamedov “The only memory remaining from summer” (1998) was shot on the base of the same named novel by H. Sultanov. Its main character – Adash Karvon endures all burdens of the “Soviet system”. The film reflects primordially national world-view of the Uzbek people. The film “Tulip on snow” (2003) shot on the base of the same named novel by A. Chulpan is a debut of a creative tandem of young directors-cinematographers Yo. Tuychiyev and A. Shakhabiddinov. The film was a participant of information display of the Cannes International Film Festival.
In the process of “liberation” of national consciousness in the country there are more movies, in which, besides concrete plot history, a psychological drama also exists. These are such films as “Homeland” (2005, directed by Z. Musakov), “Yurta” (2007, directed by A. Shakhabiddinov), “Postscript” (2011, directed by Yo. Tuychiyev), “Lead” (2011, directed by Z. Musakov), in which patriotic theme does not look pretentious, but is manifested in subtle and sometimes deliberately hidden intonation. They quite impressively and truthfully reflect complicated and contradictory characteristics of time and destiny. Search of national identity in the film occurred not through ethno-cultural attributes and external technique, but by means of displaying of tectonic demolitions of history and changes of human destinies. So, the Uzbek directors in their works were able to reveal deep spiritual essence of the national character becoming apparent in all its ambiguity in a complicated historical situation.
Realistic depiction of reality connected with complicating idea of the most important categories of life has found its reflection in a “new cinema” of Uzbekistan in which film directors and screenwriters during the study of specific phenomena aspired to consider them completely, in the context of indissoluble relations of an individual and society. In 2000 – 2016 we hear more often names of such directors and screenwriters as K. Kamalova, Z. Musakov, S. Nazarmukhammedov, Yo. Tuychiyev, E. Agzam, A. Shakhabitdinov, H. Nasimov, A. Mignorov, M. Abdukhalikov, A. Ganiyev, U. Khamdamov, and S. Karimov, whose films reflect new topics, stylistic techniques, original genre forms adequate to time, ideological purposes and psychology of people.
In twenty five years of independence the feature film of Uzbekistan has undergone a certain evolution. Initially it was a cinema with the ideological and art program, philosophy of dethronement of the Soviet myths as, for example, in the films “Valley of my fathers” (1998, directed by Sh. Abbasov) and “The only memory” (1998, directed by S. Nazarmukhammedov). Later the initial sharply socio-critical impulse gradually faded and direction of “ethno-cinema” prevailed: “Speaker” (1998, directed by Yu. Razykov), “Chimildik” (1999 directed by M. Abzalov), “Dilkhirozh” (2001, directed by Yu. Razykov), etc. The relay of magnificent national movies of 1991–2000-s was continued by such movies as “Road under heaven” (2005, directed by K. Kamalova), “Source” (2006, directed by Yo. Tuychiyev), “Heaven is my cloister” (2012, directed by A. Shakhabiddinov), “Uncle” (2014, directed by R. Malikov), “A well” (2015, directed by M. Abdukhalikov), and “Father” (2015, directed by A. Mignorov). Based on the age-old way of life, folk customs and traditions, the Uzbek cinematographers managed to reproduce the special world of traditional culture. By means of modern film language they concern the most intimate and real – the human soul. The theme of a human genetic memory of the roots and origin is sounded in a new way. Authors managed to show figuratively and truthfully various aspects of life of people in the modern world, which as a real work of art evoke warm response in the viewer.
The beginning of the 2000-s is characterized by gradual increase in production of movies, broadening of their genre and stylistic boundaries, more intensive appeal to the modern theme. Searches of national identity, identifying of primordial moral and spiritual qualities characteristic of our people accompanied with creation of film works in which actual tasks of universal value were set and solved. The repertoire of themes and perspective of national cinema reflecting the issues concerning society has considerably expanded. Uzbek cinematography has not also remained indifferent to such topical, sharp and destroying bases of the prospering society problems as religious extremism, drug addiction, criminal thirst for illegal enrichment, etc. This tendency is quite apparent in such movies of the film director H. Nasimov as “Deceived woman” (2011), “At the bottom” (2012), “Get lost” (2014), as well as in large-scale projects of R. Sagdiyev “Traitor” (2015) and “Baron” (2016).
Uzbek filmmakers aspire to overcome the schemes and stereotypes of standard dramatic art and film esthetics complicating access to those layers of reality which accumulated personal and deeply human values. In this light promotion of an image of the modern hero on the proscenium is historically quite justified. Thus, aspiration of cinema, as well as art in general, to peer closer at the life of people, to tell about our country’s life, was expressed in substantially increased number of the works devoted to activity and moral-psychological aspirations of the contemporaries. Here a peculiar staging and gradualness of development is important: from weak, naive experiences of mastering a subject to serious and considerable on maintenance films, innovative use of means of expression boldly breaking traditional style.
In a single filmmaking process of the period of independence we can conditionally allocate a group of films, which is characterized by quite concrete plot constructed around the main idea. It is, for example, “Silence” (2008, directed by Yo. Tuychiyev), “Web” (2010, directed by M. Abdukhalikov), “Late life” (2011, directed by A. Shakhabiddinov), “Zarb” (2013, directed by N. Tulyakhodzhayev), “Fortress” (2014, directed by A. Ganiyev), etc. The reliability problem still sharply concerns cinematography, and heroes of the specified works are immersed in the atmosphere of recognizable everyday life, where life is seen as if through the eyes of the accomplice or witness of the events. This additional foreshortening brings a noticeable freshness in thematic searches of the Uzbek cinematographers.
The city with its multi-storey buildings, mega-centers and landscaped neighborhoods became a scene of action for many movies. Other environment is mastered by heroes of such movies as “Melon” (2013, directed by Z. Musakov), “Sprout” (2015, directed by Z. Musakov), and “Barakasini bersin” (“Abundance”, 2015, directed by F. Khudoyberdiyev). Characters of these movies are inhabitants of modern Uzbek villages. A starting point of the movies, as a rule, is a comic situation and delicate irony penetrating it, which are interwoven into a general outline of the narration and have not only entertaining character. In them the image arising on a domestic ground stands out for its humanity and simplicity, it is a carrier of the best qualities of the Uzbek people bearing the elements of good, justice and moral duty. The characters are sometimes ridiculous; in their character national folklore roots are notable that gives the chance to the Uzbek cinematographers to find new colors in, apparently, familiar material, to create the characters which have not yet investigated in national cinema.
For forward development of national cinema the essential is a possibility of its inclusion in world process of exchange of creative achievements and experience, as well as understanding of positive practice and tendencies of world cinema. The cinema of Uzbekistan confidently goes into orbit of world art process indicating creation of efficient tool for implementation of truly creative projects in the country improving the international status of national cinematography. As positive examples we can give a number of projects which have played an important role in development of national cinematography and strengthening of social status of cinema workers.
Demonstrations of Uzbek movies on foreign screens contribute to the days of modern Uzbek cinema and their retrospective displays abroad which have become traditional. Cinematographers of Uzbekistan are active participants of international film festivals, who for the years of independence produced over 180 feature, documentary and animated films, which won more than 100 prizes and diplomas in various nominations. These are such movies as “Speaker” (1998, directed by Yu. Razykov) and “Heaven is my cloister” (2012, directed by A. Shakhabiddinov), which became the winners of the Grand Prix “Golden rod” of “Kinoshok” the Open Cinema Festival of CIS countries, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The film “Following the dream” (2004, directed by Yo. Tuychiyev) in 2006 won the Grand Prix and the prize of distributors on International Cinema Festival in Auberville (France), in 2006 the film “Chashma” (2005, directed by Yo. Tuychiyev) became the owner of the Grand Prix of “Perspectiva” contest at the Moscow International Film Festival. The film “Road under heaven” (2005, directed by K. Kamalova) became the owner of special prize of “Eurasia” International Film Festival in 2006. In 2011 the film “Postscript” (2011, directed by Yo. Tuychiyev) got three prizes on International Asian Cinema Film Festival (France): “Ciclo d’Or”, Netpac prize and prize of the Guimet museum. The film of the Uzbek director A. Shakhabiddinov “Yurta” became the owner of the Grand Prix Cinemarina International Cinema Festival (Turkey) and the prize-winner of the International Festival of Muslim Cinema “Golden Minbar”. The feature film “Do not forget me” (2013, directed by K. Kamalova) is the owner of a prize of the International Children’s Film Festival “Shlingel – 2014″ (Germany).
Today we can confidently say that cinema of independent Uzbekistan is an important part of national art and essential factor of spiritual renewal of our society. Searches of national identity, identification of primordial moral and spiritual qualities, characteristic of our people, contribute to the creation of film works, solving actual problems of universal significance. The repertoire of the themes and issues of national cinema reflecting the issues concerning society has considerably expanded. For forward development of national cinema the essential is a possibility of its inclusion in world process of exchange of creative achievements and experience, as well as understanding of positive practice and tendencies of world cinema. The cinema of Uzbekistan confidently goes into orbit of world art process indicating creation of efficient tool for implementation of truly creative projects in the country improving the international status of national cinematography.