Uzbekistan has a strong history of cultural heritage and diversity, and national authorities are cognisant of the important contribution of culture to sustainable development. But Uzbekistan has yet to unleash its full creative potential and has primarily focused its efforts on historical heritage rather than developing its contemporary creative industries.
An exception to this is found in the film industry, which represents an important cultural industry in Uzbekistan, and an industry that the government has done much to support. In 2004, “Uzbekkino”, a National Agency on Cinema was established, and the decree of the President on the Improvement of Management in the Field of Cinema was issued. The film industry has seen steady development ever since and according to data from the UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS), approximately 88.7 % of films in Uzbekistan are financed by national funds.
Despite these vast efforts made by the Uzbek government and the private sector, however, the national film industry is still facing obstacles. While there exist about 100 film studios in Uzbekistan and the quantity of Uzbek films is increasing, the quality of these films is not always of a high standard. There are also only few specialised educational institutions and skilled experts working in the field, and there is a need for resources and supportive mechanisms for young filmmakers to give them the capabilities needed to compete in an international market.
Furthermore, when the present project was launched, Uzbekistan had not yet ratified the 2005 Convention on the Protection and the Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. As such, the project aimed to contribute to the better understanding of the importance of ratifying the Convention, and the role of the creative and cultural industries (CCIs), such as film, in sustainable development, in order to effectively develop the Uzbek film industry.
This project aimed to contribute to the effective development and promotion of the film industry in Uzbekistan by conducting an overall assessment, enhancing national capacities, and organizing promotional events in the field.
This project led to the drafting of an overall assessment and the publication of a book on the Uzbek film industry, contributing to the promotion of Uzbek film in national and international fora. Moreover, numerous capacity-building activities for young filmmakers were conducted in close collaboration with film institutions and experts at international and national levels, including workshops, training courses, and study tours. The project also led to increased awareness of the film industry within the framework of the 2005 Convention among civil society organizations, professionals and the general public in Uzbekistan and abroad through the completion of a round table discussion with 60 participants from the Uzbek film eco-system.
On 14 October the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan signed the decree on the Ratification of the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression. In this respect, the KFIT project has been instrumental for non-parties to the 2005 Convention to gain awareness of the benefits of ratification. Considering that Uzbekistan has benefited from KFIT funding twice under the framework of the 2005 Convention, these experiences have contributed to accelerating the ratification process.
The first activity of this project was to prepare an overall assessment of the film industry in Uzbekistan, which was completed by a national and an international consultant from the United Kingdom, with the aim of strengthening the effective development and promotion of the Uzbek Film industry. The assessment took the form of a full-scale analytical report on the current situation, stating challenges and opportunities for the further development of the film industry in the country. The research phase involved interviews with representatives of state and non-state institutions and organizations in the film and culture industries as well as focus-group meetings with specialists and practitioners.
Due to the lack of available information about the Uzbek film industry and a big interest among stakeholders, it was decided to publish a book on the Uzbek film industry based on the assessment results. The publication was launched in 2020 and contributes to the promotion of the Uzbek film industry and will be disseminated among the national and international organisations in the field of cultural and creative industries. Not only does the book give an overview of the history of Uzbek film between 2007 and 2017, it also examines the role of women in the film industry, identifies existing problems and shortcomin in the national film industry, analyses the role of the State and private film studios in the creation of a modern film market, and presents proposals and recommendations for improving the film industry in Uzbekistan.
Numerous capacity-strengthening activities were implemented for young Uzbek filmmakers between January 2018 and September 2019 in close collaboration with film institutions and national and international experts.
For instance, several workshops and masterclasses took place, training filmmakers, producers and screenwriters in the development and production of quality and technically modern films. These workshops covered a range of topics to help foster a strong film sector, including scriptwriting, documentary filmmaking, fiction, storyboarding for animation films, as well as working with a camera, sound, and mounting.
Moreover, a longer training course on the art of documentary filmmaking was organized in partnership with the National Association of Electronic Mass Media (NAEMM) and National Agency “Uzbekkino”, spanning from May to September 2018, comprising of 10 participants from a workshop on the same topic. At the end of the course, 8 students had produced individual documentary films, which were presented at the closing ceremony on 28 September 2018 and which covered a variety of topics, including the art of Uzbek miniature, challenges of rock music in Uzbekistan, issues on Tabaco-addicted people, tapchans (a traditional place for having tea and other joint small events), and the life of a talented but unrecognised painter.
Students who graduated and presented the best films as part of the documentary film course were then invited to take part in a study tour to Poland in May 2019, intended to support the development of the film industry of Uzbekistan by studying the experience of Polish cinema. The trip also sought to foster cooperation between Uzbek and Polish institutions and organisations in the film industry, such as the Wajda Film Studio, Lodz Fil School and others. During the trip, participants visited educational institutions, cinema museums, exhibitions, and film festivals, and attended workshops in Polish cinema schools and studios.
The overall awareness on the film industry within the framework of the 2005 Convention was raised among civil society organisations, professionals and the general public in Uzbekistan and abroad.
In January 2018, a Round Table on the Uzbek Film Industry in the context of innovative and sustainable development was held in Tashkent. Its goal was to discuss issues of the development of the film industry in Uzbekistan, and to present and discuss preliminary results of the overall assessment on the film industry in Uzbekistan. The round table was attended by about 60 participants: the representatives of film industry of Uzbekistan – deputy director and specialists of “Uzbekkino,” “Uzbektelefilm,” representatives of private film studios and cinemas, independent film directors, university faculties in the field of film, artists and members of civil society.