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still from Chilla (40 Days of Silence) (Saodat Ismailova, FR/DE/NL/UZ 2014)


Saodat Ismailova / FR, DE, NL, UZ, 2014 / 87 min.

Captivating footage accompanying a spiritual inner journey: filmmaker and artist Saodat Ismailova paints a poetic portrait of a young Uzbek woman who withdraws from the world for 40 days whilst waiting for her lover. Film screening accompanies the exhibition.

poster Chilla (40 Days of Silence) (Saodat Ismailova, FR/DE/NL/UZ 2014)

Bibicha moves in with her grandmother, withdrawing from public life in the village. She vows to remain silent for 40 days, hoping this will bring her lost lover back to her.

Grandmother Khanjarmono and her illegitimate granddaughter Sharifa support Bibicha, but there are doubts: is Bibicha’s vow of silence sincere or is she attempting to hide a pregnancy?

Saodat Ismailova about Chilla: “Making Chilla – my first and only feature film – was an enriching experience that taught me how independent cinema works. It also heralded the start of my more experimental work with moving images and my investigation into the meaning of the number 40. The '18.000 Worlds' exhibition features several works this number occurs in”.


Chilla (40 Days of Silence) was screened at multiple prestigious festivals and at Centre Pompidou in Paris. The film was lauded as a dreamy, spiritual quest in which spirits and ancestors play an important role, but also as a powerful feminist statement about the position of women in Uzbek culture.

This programme accompanies 18,000 Worlds. In this exhibition of installations and video works, Saodat Ismailova explores the invisible foundations of Central Asia. In doing so, she makes use of personal and collective memories, connects myths to the region’s recent history and investigates the healing effects of spiritual heritage.

See the exhibition page for the other public programmes accompanying the exhibition and the screenings of Central Asian films selected by Saodat Ismailova including work from Ali Khamraev. Films especially selected for 18,000 Worlds will also be available on Eye Film Player.

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Saodat Ismailova

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87 min.







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Saodat Ismailova

In 18,000 Worlds, Saodat Ismailova explores the invisible foundations of Central Asia. Moving from personal to collective memory, she connects myths from the region to its recent history and addresses its spiritual heritage for healing. In 2022, the artist and filmmaker received the Eye Art & Film Prize for her oeuvre, in which she devotes attention to the complex, layered culture of her motherland. This is her first major retrospective exhibition.

Learn more
Saodat Ismailova, Two Horizons, 2017. Two channel HD video installation, 24 min., colour, 4.1 surround. Courtesy of Saodat Ismailova and Le Fresnoy
still from Chilla (40 Days of Silence) (Saodat Ismailova, FR/DE/NL/UZ 2014)
still from Chilla (40 Days of Silence) (Saodat Ismailova, FR/DE/NL/UZ 2014)
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