"Everything is born on stage" - young Uzbek creatives learn documentary filmmaking

A training course for young aspiring documentary filmmakers took place in Tashkent, Uzbekistan from 8 to 12 July 2019. The five-day workshop "Basics of Documentary Film Production" was part of Strengthening the Sustainability of the Film Industry in Uzbekistan, a Korean-funded UNESCO project in support of UNESCO’s 2005 Convention, an international legal instrument which promotes creation of diverse cultural content around the world.

As the moniker Bollywood of Central Asia suggests, Uzbekistan is a leading figure in the region’s film industries: with nearly 90 percent of films financed by national funds, the sector enjoys a strong support from the government. The level of production and available training opportunities for film professionals, however, remain much to be desired. With the objective of improving the overall quality of Uzbek documentary productions, 35 candidates – local film students and independent film professionals – were selected. In keeping with the Korean-supported project’s focus on global knowledge exchange, Luc Thauvin, a film director and an instructor at Ciné le Miroir (France), was invited to conduct the training. “I am incredibly happy to participate in this training,” says Victoria Vitko, one participant. “My idea about documentary film has completely changed. I learned that the camera should always be ready to go even after the shooting... Something interesting can happen after you turn the camera off. It is simply impossible to be rigid about scripts. Everything is born on stage.”

My idea about documentary film has completely changed... Everything is born on stage.

- Victoria Vitko, participant


The five-day training consisted of theoretical and practical components including scriptwriting, camerawork, plot development and editing. During the fieldwork, the students were divided into seven groups and asked to execute a short film from inception to screening in two afternoons. The assignment was to tell a story of a woman – in response to the call for greater female representation in the film industry put forward in 2018 Global Report published by UNESCO’s 2005 Convention.

© Okil Gulomov

The assignment was to tell a story of women.
“The idea came very naturally - we wanted to show ‘ordinary women’ of our country. We shot female workers who, despite the hard physical work, remain cheerful. The theme was happiness,” recalls Maftuna Ergasheva. “Mr. Thauvin said it is important to connect with your character. On the first day, there was a distance between the crew and the subjects, and it shows in the footage. The footage from the second day captured happiness better,” says Maftuna. Despite the limited time, the participants’ learning was immense. “All the theoretical knowledge that I obtained during the first days of the training, I was able to try out in practice,” says Davlat Urazaliyev. “It was a very dynamic and intense training session,” the young student adds. 

By the end of the week, each group successfully completed their assignment under the supervision of Luc Thauvin. While the subjects of these films come from all walks of life, the documentaries highlighted their commonality – resilience, ability to stay true to herself, courage to evolve, and the appreciation for life. “The students were capable and had the great desire to learn and grow – their eyes said it all. They had a lot of interesting ideas and something to say,” recounts Thauvin. “A documentary filmmaker is always an observer and a researcher. I have a lot of questions, and I find the answers through documentary films. I wish all participants success in their future, and hope that they will find the answers to their questions.”

The training was supported by the State Institute of Arts and Culture of Uzbekistan, the UNESCO Office in Tashkent and the French Embassy in the Republic of Uzbekistan. The screening took place on 12 July in the presence of Mr. Fuad Pashayev, the Head of the UNESCO Office in Tashkent, Ms. Emilie Desormiere, Culture and Cooperation Adviser at the Embassy of France in Uzbekistan, and Mr. Ibrohim Yuldashev, Rector of the State Institute of Arts and Culture of Uzbekistan.

All images from the workshop © Okil Gulomov