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Films from Along the Silk Roads

Films from Along the Silk Roads

Between the Middle East and the western Chinese border lies a vast stretch of the continent that has barely registered on the western cultural radar. This is the world where Genghis Khan ruled, and through which the great trade route called the Silk Road ran. The five former Soviet Asian republics are known to some as "the stans" - Turkmenistan, Tadjikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, linked by geographical proximity yet each possessed of its own unique culture. And its own distinctive national cinema.

Chances are you've never heard of most of the films in this series, the first comprehensive retrospective of movies from this cinematically rich corner of the world. You may wonder why. The reason is nothing more or less than an accident of history. When the Soviet Union collapsed, so did the apparatus for the promotion and distribution of films from Central Asia. Every time the films have surfaced, it's been the result of a titanic effort on the part of a few valiant scholars, programmers, and festival organizers. But the films are worth the effort. These countries are as culturally rich as they are cash poor, and the films, from throughout the region, are hand-crafted wonders, rich in artistic and poetic miracles.

As a special feature of this series, we are paying tribute to the late Kyrgyz director Tolomush Okeev, one of the greatest "open-air" filmmakers who ever worked in the medium. We will also be showing WITHOUT FEAR and MAN FOLLOWS BIRDS, two extraordinary films by the Uzbek master Ali Khamraev, not to be missed. We are also featuring a special presentation of TAKHIR AND ZUKHRA, an enchanting 1944 Uzbek film that will leave you breathless.

Kent Jones