About Uzbekistan

“Waiting for the Sea” – a short documentary about Aral Sea and Muynak
26 September 2020
“Waiting for the Sea” – a short documentary about Aral Sea and Muynak

A short documentary “Waiting for the Sea” shot in Muynak, Karakalpakstan, has won honorable awards in several international film festivals.

This short documentary by the New York film Director George Itzhak that was shot in Muynak, Karakaplakstan, has won an honorable place and several awards as “The Best Documentary Film” and “The Best Camerawork”. The awards were given at such international film festivals as the “Moscow Shorts International Film Festival” and “Long Story Shorts International Film Festival”.

The documentary was also nominated in several other international film festivals. The author of the “Waiting for the sea” tells about a sad story of drying up of the Aral Sea, at the same time demonstrating the electronic and national music of Karakalpakstan.

George Itzhak was impressed by the idea of Abstract Electronic Music Festival STIHIA (Element), which was first held in September 2018 in the city of Muynak, Republic of Karakalpakstan. In August 2019, George Itzhak traveled to Uzbekistan for the second release of the Music Festival Element, as well as to immerse himself in Uzbek culture and the capital's young electronic scene.

Muynak city is known for its tragic fate: once located on the southern shore of the Aral Sea and famous for its fishing industry, the city is now dozens of kilometers away from the coast of the Aral Sea. 

The documentary created by George Itzhak reppresents his personal vision of an Uzbek person, who has never lived in Uzbekistan, as well as his search for links between ancient traditions and the futuristic movement. At the same time, showing sensitivity and esthetics, he destroys the stereotypes and clichés often used to represent Uzbekistan, Karakalpakstan and the Aral Sea. The main goal of the director before the trip was to try to understand the visual language of the country, to dive into the atmosphere and demonstrate his own experience.

Yet being born in Tashkent, George Itzhak actually grew up and lived in New York all his life. He works as a documentary and news producer on NBC Nightly News, one of the best evening news shows in the United States, During the interview with the journalist of the Novastan portal, dedicated to post-Soviet Central Asia, the producer talks about how he found out about the Music Festival “Element”:

“It all started with an image that someone shared on Facebook: it was an Element poster, and it was an image of a woman in traditional Karakalpak clothing. Nevertheless, at the same time, it was a poster conveying the style of electronic music. Almost like a magical painting: it combined traditional culture and the way I am used to seeing Uzbekistan with this very young and futuristic aesthetic. The combination of these two elements impressed me a lot; I clicked on it and continued to dive into this topic. Therefore, I found out about the Element festival”.

Later on, the author called his co-producer Neha Hirva, and told her that he had a crazy idea, which didn’t cost much, but promised it would be a great adventure. Neha agreed immediately. They started to exchange images, ideas and explore the world of Central Asian cinema together. The documentary "Waiting for the Sea" was nominated at world film festivals, and took an honorable place in such a Long Story Shorts International Film Festival, Moscow shorts International Short Film Festival, Prague International Film Festival, Lebanese Independent Film Festival, Ojai Film Festival, In the Palace International Short Film Festival, Lonely Wolf London International Film Festival, and Tokyo Lift-Off Film Festival.

The producer plans to play the film in the UK and Germany in the near future, where they have a large community of creative people and filmmakers, in to open a window to Central Asia.

You can watch the "Waiting for the Sea” documentary by the Link: https://vimeo.com/403508520/0c1b0229ac  


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Did you know?

Uzbekistan is one of only two countries in the world to be ‘double landlocked’ (landlocked and totally surrounded by other landlocked countries). Liechtenstein is double landlocked by 2 countries whilst Uzbekistan is surrounded by 5!

Did you know that Uzbekistan lies in the very heart of Eurasia, the coordinates for Uzbekistan are 41.0000° N, 69.0000°

Uzbekistan is home to the Muruntan gold mine, one of the largest open pit gold mines in the world! The country has 4th largest reserves of gold in the world after South Africa, USA and Russia

Uzbekistan is the world capital of melons. They have in excess of 150 different varieties, which form a staple part of the local diet, served fresh in the summer and eaten dried through the winter.

It is Uzbek tradition that the most respected guest be seated farthest from the house’s entrance.

Tashkent’s metro features chandeliers, marble pillars and ceilings, granite, and engraved metal. It has been called one of the most beautiful train stations in the world.

The Uzbek master chef is able to cook in just one caldron enough plov to serve a thousand men.

When you are a host to someone, it is your duty to fill their cups with for the whole time they are with you.  What you must not do, however, is to fill their cup more than half-full.  If you do that as a mistake, say it is a mistake immediately.  Doing it means you want them to leave.  Wow!  Amazing, right?

To Uzbeks, respect means a whole lot.  For this reason they love it if, even as foreigners, you endeavour to add the respectful suffix opa after a woman's name; and aka after a man's.  Example: Linda-opa and David-aka.  You could also use hon and jon respectively.

Having been an historic crossroads for centuries as part of various ancient empires, Uzbekistan’s food is very eclectic. It has its roots in Iranian, Arab, Indian, Russian and Chinese cuisine.

Though identified with the Persia, the Zoroastrism probably originated in Bactria or Sogdiana. Many distinguished scholars share an opinion that Zoroastrianism had originated in the ancient Khorezm. Indeed, today in the world there were found 63 Zoroastrian monuments, including those in Iran, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Thirty-eight of them are in Uzbekistan, whereas 17 of these monuments are located in Khorezm.

One of Islam's most sacred relics - the world's oldest Koran that was compiled in Medina by Othman, the third caliph or Muslim leader, is kept in Tashkent. It was completed in the year 651, only 19 years after Muhammad's death. 

Tashkent is the only megapolis in the world where public transport is totally comprised of Mercedes buses. And due to low urban air polution it is one of the few cities where one can still see the stars in the sky.

You would be surprised to know that modern TV was born in Tashkent. No joke! The picture of moving objects was transmitted by radio first time in the world in Tashkent on 26 of July 1928 by inventors B.P. Grabovsky and I.F. Belansky.

Uzbekistan is the only country in the world all of whose neighbours have their names ending in STAN. This is also the only country in Central Asia that borders all of the countries of this region

Uzbeks are the third populous Turkik ethnicity in the world after Turks and Azeris (leaving both in Azerbaijan and Iran)

Did you know that there was silk money in Khiva? Super interesting right? Of course, but the best part of having silk money was that it could be sewn into your clothing.

Famous Islamic physician Ibn Sina (Avicenna in the Latin world) who was born near Bukhara was the one of the first people to advocate using women’s hair as suture material – about 1400 years ago.

Uzbekistan has a long and bloody history. The most notorious leader of Uzbekistan was Timur (or Tamerlane) who claimed descent from Genghis Khan. His military campaigns have been credited for wiping out some 5% of the world’s population at the time.

If you have thought that some of the Islamic architecture in Uzbekistan resembles that from Northern India, then that is because Timur’s great great great Grandson, Babur Beg, was the founder of the Moghul Empire that ruled much of India for almost four centuries! Babur’s great great Grandson was Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal.

Uzbekistan was once a rum producig country. There is still a real arboretum in Denau (city near Termez on the border with Afghanistan), grown from a selection station that studied the prospects of plant growing in the unusual for the Soviet Union subtropical climate of Surkhandarya region: only here in the whole of the USSR sugar cane was grown and even rum was produced!

Uzbekistan has been ranked one of the safest countries in the world, according to a new global poll. The annual Gallup Global Law and Order asked if people felt safe walking at night and whether they had been victims of crime. The survey placed Uzbekistan 5th out of 135 countries, while the UK was 21st and the US 35th. Top five safest countries:

  • Singapore
  • Norway
  • Iceland
  • Finland
  • Uzbekistan
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