Saodat Ismailova

Uzbekistan

Filmmaker

Guest of the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Programme 2005

Saodat Ismailova DAAD


Saodat Ismailova is accustomed to success. Her first films have already won prizes. In 2005, the young filmmaker from Tashkent in Uzbekistan spent six months as a guest of the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Programme. In the German capital she worked on a film about the social situation of women in her country.

Uzbekistan provides me with the impetus for my film work, but Berlin made it possible for me to look at myself and my culture with more distance.
Saodat Ismailova

"My life as a woman in Uzbekistan provides me with the impetus for my work," says Saodat Ismailova. "The stay in Berlin made it possible for me to look at myself and my culture with more distance." The artist was born in Tashkent in 1981. She studied film and video direction at the State Institute of Art in Tashkent and her first films won her the Grand Prize at the Tashkent Student-Videofilm Festival in 1999 and in 2000 the Prize for Best Camera at the International Film Festival in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

After graduating, she came to the Research Centre for Communication run by the Italian fashion company Benetton in Treviso in 2002 to take a postgraduate course. It was there that she had the opportunity to independently develop a project under the direction of practitioners from the fields of advertising and design. This led to her making Zulfiya, a short film that was shown at the film festival in Rome. The film studies the difficult life of the nomads on the banks of the almost dried out Aral Sea. A mother wanders aimlessly with her baby along the banks of the sea, searching in vain for water.

The Aral Sea also serves as the setting for the documentary Aral. Fishing on an Invisible Sea made in 2004, in which Ismailova describes the battle for survival of the fishermen in the region. It won a prize at the Turin Film Festival as the best Italian documentary.

While she was in Berlin, Saodat Ismailova also wrote the screenplay for her first feature film 40 Days of Silence. It tells the story of Chilla, a young girl who remains silent for 40 days to fulfil a wish. It is also a story about four women of different generations who live under the same roof and about the problems they have in Uzbek society. Eventually it became her first full-length feature film, with which she made her debut in 2014 at the Biennale in Venice and the Berlin International Film Festival. The young director spent another year in Germany for her first individual museum exhibition in Augsburg, where visitors were able to experience her film installation Celestial Circles. Saodat Ismailova lives alternately in Uzbekistan, Italy and Spain.