Islam Karimov Foundation

Saodat Ismailova

Saodat Ismailova is an incredibly talented Uzbek film director, whose works have received broad international critical acclaim, thanks to their exceptional creative style and artistic vision.

Currently dividing her time between Tashkent and Paris, Saodat has maintained a strong spiritual attachment and connection to the region she was born and grew up in, which is clearly manifested in her works, as demonstrated by the fact that almost all of her major projects were produced in Transoxania.”My land is my aorta, my backbone. It is all that makes me and gives me an immense source of inspiration. I cannot imagine myself without it. I am an Uzbek film director and artist, and this is the only way I can define myself,” says Saodat.

Saodat was born in Tashkent, and after graduating from the Tashkent State Institute of Arts in 2002, she studied film directing in Italy. In 2013 Saodat made a foray into the world of contemporary art with her first video installation “Zuhra”, which premiered at the Venice Biennale. A year later her first feature film, “40 Days of Silence”, debuted at the Berlin Film Festival. This feature film – which tells the story of a young woman who decides to take a vow of silence because she is followed by her past – was subsequently shown at 35 international film festivals, winning several awards.

The project also received support from the Cannes Film Festival, the Sundance Institute and France’s National Centre for Cinematography, thus becoming the first Uzbek film to receive such broad international backing and attention.

One of Saodat’s most recent works, “Stains of Oxus” – a three-screen video installation – gives an incredible and mesmerizing insight into the dreams of people living on the banks of the Amu Darya River.

“I wanted to create a parallel mystical river of dreams and collective memory, which is filled with unexpected archetypes and totems. The Amu Darya is the cradle of ancient civilizations. This has had a substantial impact on Uzbek culture, and an immensely rich spiritual world of the people living in our region,” says Saodat.

In January 2017, during her personal exhibition mounted in the Norwegian city of Tromso Saodat unveiled her new short film, “The Haunted”, which tells the story of a Turanian tiger. Currently, the Permanent Delegation of Uzbekistan to UNESCO, jointly with the Islam Karimov Foundation, is working on a project to organize an exhibition of Saodat Ismailova’s art works in Tashkent.