Ali Hamroyev Films
"If there is a giant who sits astride the history of Uzbek cinema, it's Ali Hamroyev. An artist of rock-solid humanism and amazing expressive power. Ali Hamroyev., one of those rare talents like 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. Hamroyev. is a towering figure, a wizard with landscapes (they all seem charged, often enchanted) and an instinctual genius with actors. Anyone interested in the Brechtian idea of the social gestus should study Hamroyev's ferocious 1972 masterpiece Without Fear, which deals with the Soviet modernization of a Muslim village in 1927 and the shock waves caused by the sight of unveiled women. Hamroyev's bravura talent isolates just the right gestures, merging the physical, the visual, and the dramatic with perfect precision. Nearly abstract visual forms of Hamroyev's Man Follows Birds, his 1975 medieval pocket epic, merits comparison with Paradjanov and Dovzhenko."
Pera Film’s Hidden Treasure: Films of Ali Hamroyevprogram organized in collaboration with Seagull Films highlights the work not only of an overlooked director but also of a rich and under-explored frontier on the cinematic map. The cinema of the Central Asian Soviet republics began to emerge from the shadow of the USSR in the 1960s, with the decline of Stalinist politics and increased investment in regional film industries. In recent years, following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Central Asian cinema has come sharply into focus, with the growing recognition of distinct filmmaking traditions in each of its nations, and of a group of major filmmakers ripe for discovery in the west, including Tolomush Okeev of Kyrgyzstan, Darezhan Omirbaev and Ardak Amirkulov of Kazakhstan, and, preeminently, Ali Hamroyev of Uzbekistan.
Born in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent in 1937, Hamroyev was educated at VGIK, the famed Soviet state film school, where he was part of the prominent new generation of visionary directors that emerged in the wake of Khrushchev’s great Thaw in Soviet arts (among them Gherman, Iosseliani, Pelechian, Paradjanov, and Tarkovsky). Hamroyev made his directing debut in 1964 and first attracted critical attention with the 1966 adultery drama White, White Storks. He achieved popular success in the late 1960s and 1970s with a series of action films set in Central Asia during the civil wars of 1920s: Red Sands, The Extraordinay Comisar, The Bodyguard, and his biggest hit, The Seventh Bullet. Resembling American spaghetti westerns, these films deftly mix ideological issues with superb action scenes and stunning landscapes. As critic Olaf Möller (Film Comment) notes, " Hamroyev is a born storyteller...a Genghis Khan-ian giant of genre filmmaking."
Hamroyev also began expanding his range, becoming "a director of extraordinary versatility" (Peter Rollberg, Historical Dictionary of Russian and Soviet Cinema). Man Follows Birds, perhaps his most acclaimed film, is a phantasmagoric medieval odyssey that evokes Paradjanov and Tarkovsky (the latter both an inspiration and a personal friend). There are strong autobiographical elements in his period pieces Triptych and I Remember You. Hamroyev also directed musicals, documentaries, and historical epics. Recurring themes in his films include the oppression of women and the conflict between traditional and progressive forces.
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