Winter 2000 (8.4)
Accolades for Rustam, Again!
Above: Rustam is standing
on the right.
foremost filmmaker Rustam Ibrahimbeyov is at it again. The Oscar-winning
cinematographer just won the top prize at the Third Eurasian
Teleforum Film Festival held in Moscow for a new film called
"Family". The film was also well received at the 1999
Edinburgh Film Festival and has found an audience at film festivals
in Berlin, Montreal and Stockholm.
The 95-minute film was produced jointly by Ibrus Ltd and Mir-Telefilm.
It was written and directed by Rustam Ibrahimbeyov, with additional
directing assistance by Ramiz Mirzayev.
Recent struggles in Azerbaijan's history form the backdrop for
"Family", a film that focuses on familial tensions
between an Azerbaijani retiree, his Armenian brother-in-law and
other members of the family. Events in the film coincide with
the dramatic events that took place in Baku in January 1990.
The Soviet Union had not yet collapsed. About 300,000 Azerbaijanis
had already fled their homes in Armenia. Some people in Azerbaijan
were seeking revenge and attacking Armenians. Demonstrators filled
the streets. Then Soviet tanks rolled through the streets on
the eve of January 20 and massacred several hundred protestors
and civilians overnight.
Left: Scene from Rustam Ibrahimbeyov's new
prize-winning film "Family".
Ismayil, the protagonist, is a pensioner, who had once been a
powerful industrial worker. He has no family and lives with relatives
in a flat inherited from his parents. Ismayil tries to create
a family from people of different nationalities and ages, in
accordance with his own conceptions, sometimes being very tough
on his relatives and restricting their freedom. Not everybody
likes his rules, especially Garik, his deceased sister's husband,
an Armenian. Garik thinks that each member of this artificial
family needs a separate place to live. Accordingly, he tries
to persuade everyone to exchange the common flat.
Rustam has been one of the driving forces in Azerbaijani film
since the late 1960s. He currently serves as the President of
Azerbaijan's Filmmakers' Union. During the Soviet period, he
gained renown for anti-establishment movies like "In a Southern
Town"  and "Interrogation" , which
raised serious moral issues about the Soviet system.
After the Soviet Union collapsed, Rustam became internationally
recognized for films such as the Oscar-winning "Burnt by
the Sun" . The film "Close to Eden" was
also nominated for Best Foreign Film Oscar in 1994. Rustam was
screenwriter and deeply involved with the production of both
films, which were directed by Nikita Mikhalkov of Russia.
Producing a movie in Azerbaijan these days is quite an achievement
in itself because of the limited funding. Azerbaijani cinema
has almost died because it has become so difficult to raise sufficient
capital. In contrast, during the Soviet period, the government
budgeted for films. See the entire issue of Azerbaijan International
"Cinema: Can It be Revived", AI 5.3, Autumn
Azerbaijan's film industry is beginning to reemerge, but it is
a slow process. Compared to Western standards, Rustam's "Family"
was made on an extremely low budget despite the fact that it
turned out to be a prize-winning film.
To generate more interest in Azerbaijan's cinema, Rustam has
organized an annual international film festival in Baku. The
Fourth Annual East-West Movie Festival will be held December
18-25, 2000. Ten films are scheduled for viewing including recent
Azerbaijani, Russian and Georgian films. A retrospective review
of the past century will also be featured entitled, "The
Beginning of National Cinematography: A View of the 20th Century."
Rustam Ibrahimbeyov has been featured in several issues
of Azerbaijan International. See "Cinema
and Censorship" in AI 5.3, Autumn
Scorching Sun and the Nature of Toralitarian Systems" in AI 3.2, Summer 1995.
(8.4) Winter 2000.
© Azerbaijan International 2000. All rights reserved.
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