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still from Shiza (Gulshat Omarova, DE/FR/RU/KZ 2004)


Gulshat Omarova / DE, FR, RU, KZ, 2004 / 86 min.

For her exhibition at Eye, Saodat Ismailova selected films that inspired her. In this social drama with thriller elements by female pioneer Gulshat Umerova, a boy on the Kazakh steppes falls in the hands of the mafia.

poster Shiza (Gulshat Omarova, DE/FR/RU/KZ 2004)

Especially for her exhibition 18,000 Worlds, Saodat Ismailova selected films that provide an impression of the unfortunately unknown, yet exceptional cinematic history of Central Asia. For many years, filmmakers had to toe the line with Soviet ideology. Within these constraints, they developed their own way of portraying their countries, stories and culture. This created a unique cinematic legacy, the majority of which has never been seen outside the former Soviet Union. This film programme is an ode to the inspiring filmmakers from the region who, despite all the challenges, always continued to make films.

Saodat Ismailova about Shiza: “This is the story of a boy on the Kazakh steppes who becomes embroiled in criminality. It’s important to me to show the work of a female director: only after the collapse of the Soviet Union there was space for women in the film industry. Gulshat Umerova was a pioneer in the field and inspired many of us in this way”.

Saodat Ismailova’s exhibition 18,000 Worlds, which features installations and video works, explores the invisible foundations of Central Asia. Using personal and collective memories she links myths and the region’s recent history examining the healing effects of spiritual heritage.

Check out the exhibition page for the other audience programmes accompanying the exhibition and the screenings of Central Asian films. Films specially selected for 18,000 Worlds can also be viewed on the Eye Film Player.

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Gulshat Omarova

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86 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 Shiza (Gulshat Omarova, DE/FR/RU/KZ 2004)
still from Shiza (Gulshat Omarova, DE/FR/RU/KZ 2004)
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