Behind the scenes of the documentary "Gerard Depardieu: My Uzbek Dream"

After  the documentary  "Gerard Depardieu : My Uzbek Dream" was shoot, Arnaud Frilley reveals Uzbekistan, which fascinates with the beauty of its landscapes and cultural richness. Novastan was particularly interested in the role of Uzbeks in the creation of this documentary.

Within the framework of the international Festival of Asian cinema, which took place in Vesule from 1 to 8 February, Arnaud Frilley, director of the documentary "Gerard Depardieu : my Uzbek dream", was able to present his film to the general public. The film premiered in Paris in October 2020 years without film distribution.

Originally conceived in collaboration with Uzbek director Ali Khamraev, the documentary film eventually had to be thought in a different way. " From the first day, Khamrayev and Depardieu did not come to terms  on the film. Ali wanted to make a feature film, and we wanted to make a documentary. In addition, he wanted to shoot Depardieu, as in the era of the New Wave film, but Gerard did not want to shoot like 40 years ago," says Arnaud Frilley to Novastan. Unable to use Ali Khamrayev's script, Arnaud Frilley rethought it and decided to leave more space for spontaneity. The director wanted to show the audience a beautiful story telling about Gerard Depardieu's journey through Uzbekistan. The film takes the viewer to the main tourist points of the country: Khiva, Samarkand, Bukhara, known for their Silk Road past, and at the same time touches on such problematic topics as the situation in Muynak, located next to what remains of the Aral Sea. Nuanced facets throughout the film, Gerard Depardieu gets acquainted with the population Uzbekistan, its culture, customs, religion and traces left by previous civilizations. Accompanied by local guides, he traveled from city to city, introducing the viewer to the little-known history of this country. This documentary highlights the tourist advantages of the country, revealing its diversity: its cultural wealth, its mythical cities and historical relics, the diversity of its landscapes. Although for some the film may seem like an advertisement for tourists, but for Arnaud Frilley this wealth is a reality. Why not show it? How long will it be possible to save this extremely fragile balance? The director refers to the numerous layers of civilizations that have taken root in Uzbekistan with its Sufi Islam, the philosophy of which is used by the authorities to create a new political model. Arnaud Frilley asks, "How many people actually practice Sufi Islam? Today, traditional Islam is much more widespread among the less educated population.

The independence of the country was marked by the searching of spiritual alternative

of Soviet ideology. In this context, Sufism was declared an "exceptional heritage", political leaders wanted to find an alternative to the aggressiveness and terrorism that political Islam seemed to be approaching. In addition, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the President of Uzbekistan, since coming to power in 2016, has made important changes to the new model of society - the "new" Uzbekistan. This development strategy includes various directions, such as reforms in the spiritual and educational spheres aimed at developing a more enlightened society.

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Baktygul Kadyrbekova

16 March 2022

The shooting went off without problems

Thanks to this film, the viewer can feel that Uzbek partners took the opportunity to carry and defend a certain political model based, in particular, on Sufi Islam.

According to Arnaud Frilley, Uzbekistan has no such desire to go beyond the borders of the region with the help of this management model. "The Uzbeks want to revive the glorious history. They had cosmonauts, mathematicians, a certain fame in medicine, poetry, and an extremely rich past. What they want is to use all this wealth,",-the director describes.

Arnaud Frilley explains to Novastan that cooperation between Uzbek the partners and the French team went smoothly, "no instructions were given." The director adds that one of his Uzbek employees asked him about some scenes that might have shocked the French audience. Although  Arnaud Frilley did not hold this opinion, he agreed to cut the cockfight scene. Instead, he decided to keep the scene with the horses, which, in his opinion, were important to him.

In a wide sense, the desire of the President of Uzbekistan, who was re-elected in October 2021, openness is felt everywhere, describes the French director. Arnaud Frilley, in particular, cites as an example the scene of the great prayer, which could be filmed from allangles it is much more difficult. "We have never been forbidden anything. We were accompanied by a person who was our translator, and we had guides of different nationalities: Tajiks, Arabs, Uzbeks... all the work was done perfectly," says Arnaud Frilley.

New projects in Central Asia

Except Gerard Depardieu, the French director has several projects in Central Asia. Thus, Arnaud Frilley plans to release a film about the Aral Sea in order to shed light on what is being done today to combat the prevailing dramatic environmental consequences. In a short documentary film, he wants to demonstrate the initiatives taken by the Kazakh and Uzbek sides, for example, to plant thousands of trees so that the wind does not carry out salt and does not destroy the entire region. "It was not easy to shoot, the population is so young that there is a need to return with a more experienced team," notes Arnaud Frilley for Novastan.

The director also hopes to make a film with Kazakhstan. "I like this country, which fascinates with its vastness, silence in the steppes and the hospitality of the Kazakhs. Rather, it will be an author's film about sounds, shamanism… I started working in this direction, but I don't like to talk about things before they are implemented," concludes the French director.

Author: Coline Boucault

Novastan Marketing Manager

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