Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hollywood by the Syr Darya

According to Ferghana.Ru, the film industry in Uzbekistan has revived after its post-Soviet collapse:
According to the 2008 statistics of UzbekKino, the state agency overseeing the Uzbek film industry, there are close to fifty private film studios in the country. In 2008 they produced 48 films, compared with 30 in 2006, 20 in 2005, and a dozen produced between 1991 and 2000.

Uzbek TV soap operas modeled after Latin American and Korean ones are also becoming popular across Uzbekistan. In November 2008, Uzbek filmmakers instituted an annual ceremony to award best films and actors. The current trend marks a stark contrast to the early 1990s, a period when the Uzbek film industry was on the verge of collapse as lavish Soviet state subsidies abruptly ended.

Most Uzbek films rely on low budgets and heart wrenching plots to attract viewers. The 2005 box-office hit, "An American Groom," fits this genre. A young Uzbek-American visits his grandfather’s village in a remote part of Uzbekistan only to fall in love with an Uzbek girl from a conservative family. The girl rejects his charms and refuses to marry him. The American wins her over only after he masters nuances of Uzbek traditions and his affluent grandfather generously gifts one million dollars to her family.

“Super Kelinchak,” (Super Daughter-in-Law), a 2008 box office hit, tells the story of a posh city woman who falls for and marries a man from a family where conservative values run strong and wives are subordinated to their in-laws. In the course of the ensuing power struggle with her feisty mother-in-law, the city woman learns how to wear traditional clothes, milk cows and respect family traditions.

Sobirjon Rahimov, an assistant film producer based in Tashkent, told that film directors often pay out-of-pocket to produce such movies. “It costs about 30 to 50 thousand [US] dollars to make [a film], but the return can be three time bigger.” According to Rahimov, it takes less then three months to complete a film in Uzbekistan.