Diary 4 of the Central Asian Scriptwriting Lab: Story of Azizbek

22 August 2021

We continue a series of articles about the work of the Central Asian Scriptwriting Lab (CASL) organised by the UNESCO Office in Almaty as part of the "Strengthening Film Industries in Central Asia" project with the support of the government of the Republic of Korea. This time we will tell the story of Azizbek Mannopov scriptwriter from Uzbekistan and CASL Laboratory participant.

Azizbek has been interested in literature and filmmaking since his youth and attended evening courses in scriptwriting, a hobby which he gradually developed into a profession. Currently, he works as a project manager at the Art and Culture Development Foundation under the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Azizbek has many projects under his belt; at the moment he is working on the documentary film "Towards the Splendour of Central Asia" (working title), which will be presented in the framework of the exhibition at the Louvre Museum in 2022. However, the young professional has a dream to make a film based on the script of his project "Cities", which he is working on as part of the CASL laboratory.

About Uzbek Filmmaking and its Prospects

"I am not in a position to judge our film industry, but as an observer and someone who is also passionate about the filmmaking process, I can say that quite a lot of attention is being given to the film industry now. In one way or another, it is developing. There are talented young people trying to write and create something. I hope they will be able to realize their ideas. Having said that, there are problems: cinema is underdeveloped as an industry, namely film production, film distribution and so on. There are gaps in film education, it seems to me that the process of developing young talents, directors, cameramen could be improved", said our protagonist.

Despite the disadvantages of the film industry, Azizbek believes that Uzbekistan has great potential in the field of filmmaking: "In general, there are great prospects for the film industry in Uzbekistan. In terms of filmmaking, there are many locations that would be interesting for both local and foreign filmmakers. Speaking about creativity, I see potential here, because in our young country there are a lot of unresolved issues, which creates the basis for creative search and its artistic expression in literature and cinematography".

"Now there are interesting films, major projects, so I look forward to the future of Uzbek cinema", he concluded.

National Self-Identification and "Cities"

Azizbek was enthusiastic about taking part in the programme for young scriptwriters: "CASL is a very cool and interesting experience for me, as soon as I saw the announcement about the programme, I was immediately interested and decided to apply. Fortunately, I was accepted. Every week we have classes with the wonderful master Dmitry Popov, who is very friendly and very interested in giving some kind of direction to each participant and helping us to develop ideas and scripts. As part of the lab, I got to know a lot of interesting young people - they are all so different, each with their own project. For me, every project is a surprise. It's very interesting when creative people get together and dedicate an entire session to your project: they discuss it and everyone gives their opinion".

As part of the programme, Azizbek wrote a project entitled "Cities", in which he raised the issue of Uzbek national self-identification: "In Cities, I raise the issue of national self-identification. In it, I show how the characters perceive themselves in a changing world and in a country with so many different processes going on. There are so many people in Uzbekistan who are searching for themselves it is important for them to define who they really are, to build a reference point for themselves, to understand where they have come and where they are going, where they are going as a community, a society, a country and a nation. In this movement I would like to show two young people who find themselves in a situation where they have to move from one city to another, and where there is a kind of attraction between them and at the same time they realise that they are somewhat intimidated by each other. All the action takes place within the background of the cities, reflecting the inner state of the characters and conveying the atmosphere".

During the programme, he developed some important skills: "The trainers teach us how to promote and present our project, and help us take steps towards realising and implementing the project - this is also very important".

About the Scriptwriting Profession and More

Azizbek loves his profession for the constant change and the new people around him: "Interacting with new people, hearing their stories, seeing how they live, various architecture, culture and behaviour it all inspires and gives some base of experience that you perceive and carry through, of course it gives birth to something new in you".

When asked about his favourite films, the young scriptwriter replied: "I don't have any particular preferences - I like and watch different kinds of cinema. I like Soviet and Russian cinema. I like Balabanov's aesthetics of everyday life and violence, the way he brings out something bright from the dark side of things. Even though it's not always very pleasant, but that's where the magic of cinema is born. I also like Uzbek cinema. I am more receptive to it because it touches on some moments that are close to you, that you know and feel. I love very much Ali Irgashevich Hamroyev or Yusuf Suleimanovich Roziqov and I re-watch them. Uzbek cinema is particular for my perception: there are moments that a Russian or Kazakh audience might not be able to experience fully through dialogue, staging, objects and locations. When you see the mountains of Baysun in Yolkin Tuychiev's 'Two Thousand Songs of Farida' and a traditional lullaby song in the background, of course it has a greater impact on you".

Among his favourite films, Azizbek recommends watching "Twenty Days Without War" by Aleksey German, "Closeness" by Kantemir Balagov, and "The Killing of a Sacred Deer" and "The Lobster" by Yorgos Lanthimos.

At the end, he wished the young writers: "Don't be afraid, if it is something he/she is really interested in and he/she wants to do it. Work, write, watch and read. Don't stop, be observant and try to be more sensitive to what's going on around you. It's very interesting to take something out of your own personal experience and then put it into words and create a new story out of that".

The interview was given to Aigerim Mukhametgali, communications intern.

Previous diaries:
Initial Project Participants;
Project Trainers;
Diary 1: reviewing Applications and Selecting Participants;
Diary 2: onsultations of Yulia Levitskaya;
Diary 3: Story of Aizada.

Permanent link: http://en.unesco.kz/diary-4-of-the-central-asian-scriptwriting-lab-story-of-azizbek