A few well-kept secrets certainly remain in the folds of cinema’s history. From its very beginning, the Festival of the 3 Continents is committed to contributing to their revelation. The event’s reputation is inextricably linked to this exploratory work and regular updating of our film knowledge. This year, the restoration of two films gives us a rare opportunity to pay tribute to one of the most important figures of Central Asian cinema. Like the other directors of his generation (Andrei Tarkovsky, Artavazd Pelechian, Otar Iosseliani), Khamraev graduated from Moscow’s VGIK, the prestigious Soviet film school. His work retains clear marks of its teachin : pictorial quality of the composition, pinpoint staging accuracy, exploration of editing resource. But Khamraev’s films also demonstrate a surprising capacity to bridge the gap. The delightful inventiveness of his films casts a bridge that runs from former Soviet avant-garde up to Sergio Leone. His films bring together theoretical mastery and ingenious insight interconnected with popular inspiration (The Seventh Bullet (1972) with twenty-two million entries remains one of the most widely seen in the history of Central Asian films) and an author’s statement on cinema.
We then better understand the enthusiasm that these films arise in the United States for Kent Jones, programmer, critic, and co-director of the World Cinema Foundatio : « If there is a giant who sits astride the history of Uzbek cinema, it’s Ali Khamraev, a genuine humanist artist with an amazing expressive power. Ali Khamraev, one of those rare talents close to Welles or Godard or Scorsese whose love for the medium is so intense that his best films burst with criss-crossing energies and insights, like a fireworks display. Khamraev is a towering figure, a wizard with landscapes (they all seem charged, often enchanted) and an instinctual genius with actors. Khamraev’s bravura talent isolates just the right gestures, merging the physical, the visual, and the dramatic with perfect precision. His work merits comparison with Paradjanov and Dovjenko. » We do not hide our pleasure to (re) discover these movies and share them with our audience in avant-première.