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Journey To The Tashkent International Film Festival

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Half way across Central Asia, is the country of Uzbekistan, where it is rich culture and art. The people are friendly, and the cuisine is fabulous.

Uzbekistan's capital is Tashkent, a city of classic architecture and the very popular Tashkent International Film Forum "Golden Guepard", which plays host to film producers, directors, writers, photographers. Now in its second year, the festival was created through the vision of Gulnara Karimova, philanthropist and patron to the arts.

Gulnara Karimova, Patron Of The Arts

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Gulnara Karimova, a patron of the arts and philanthropist, has astounded the music world in the United States as well as throughout Europe. Her new CD, Googoosha has received uplifting reviews. The music is pulsating, with excellent video composition, especially Round Run which topped the Billboard Charts at number 5 recently. Gulnara's gentle soul and creativity lends itself to the messages in her music.

There is no question that the businesswoman, fashion designer and diplomat has a promising future, especially her book of poems. She is, no doubt, the Queen of Uzbekistan.

This year's Film Forum had over 503 entries, of which the panel picked 33 films; 12 features, 11 shorts and 10 animated films. In addition to the film screenings, and documentaries, it represents a mix of dreams, colors and emotions through art, fashion, jewelry, crafts and photography. It truly is a film festival, with what is called "Art Week."

According to the organizers of the "Golden Guepard," this quote by Heraclitus of Ephesus perfectly reflects the essence of the upcoming cinematic event. "The hidden harmony is better than the obvious." Hidden harmony is, first of all, a semantic component of any occurrence or notion. The auteur films, which the cinema forum presented, exemplified this hidden harmony.

During our journey to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, I was accompanied by actors Mark Dacascos and Tom Hallick. We all complimented the festival director, Gulnara Karimova for exposing the arts. Our attendance at the film festival introduced to us many excellent film screenings.

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Star Studded Jury

The jury for this year's 'Golden Guepard' Cinema Forum was composed of famous and leading cinema professionals, including:

Nik Powell, a leading British film producer, director of the British Film and Television School and vice-president of the European Film Academy;

Thomas Mauch, a famous German film director, writer, and winner of the Golden Bear award of Berlin Film Festival;

Ah Cheng, a famous Chinese writer, scriptwriter, artist, photographer and 62nd Venice Film Festival Jury.

Jean Roy, the president of the International Federation of Film Critics [FIPRESCI] .

Philip Bergson, British Film Critic.

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Hong Sang Woo, South Korean film critic, 2012 Moscow International Film Festival Jury.

Vadim Abdrashitov, a famous Russian film director, vice-president of the Russian Academy of Cinemnatographers Arts.

Sai Yochi, a famous Japanese filmmaker, and Russian animator.

Oleg Uzhinov, prominently directed famous Russian cartoon series "Masha and the Bear."

Rustam Sagdullayev - Feature Films Jury, famous film director, actor and Uzbek cinematographer.

Sobir Nazarmuamedov - Short Films Jury.

Dmitriy Vlasov - film director, and Animated Films Jury.

The Out-of-Competition Program

The out-of-competition program at this festival included a retrospective screening of 6 films by prominent French film director Jacques Tati (1907-1982).

Panorama of Contemporary Uzbek Cinema is a screening of 5 films and premieres of 4 films created by nongovernmental television studios.

The Cinema Forum

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The cinema forum included daily press conferences, an international conference titled "Contemporary Cinema: Space,Time, Soul" as well as 11 workshops and meetings with cinematographers, among them film producers Alexei Ryazantsev and Gregory Maikov (Russia), film director Thomas Mauch (Germany), film critics Hans Schiegel (Germany), Phillip Bergson (UK), actors Matthias Hues (USA), Frederic Diefenthal (France) Gwendolyn Hammond (France), film directors Nik Powell [UK], Taylor Kennedy (USA), Christopher Bell (USA), Menahem Golan (Israel), Arturo Duenas Herrero [Spain] and Oleg Uzhinov (Russia) and Mark Dacascos (USA)

International Designer Showcase

Designers who showcased their designs during Art Week Style.uz were:

Italy: Dolce & Gabbana, The Versace Fashion Show

Japan: Kamishima Chinami, Nitta Midori

London: Alice Temperly, Matthew Williamson, Jacob Kimmie

Russia: Lena Lenskaya

United States of America: Carolina Herrera, Loris Diran

Uzbek Fashion Designers:

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Sevara Mirzamuhamedova, Nataya Kim Gulirano Ithomjanova, Sofia Ashurova Nargiza Ibragimova, Munira Alimuhamedova, Gulnora Ruziyeva Marianna Makarova, Taislya Chursina, Madina Kasymbaeva, Shahio Tursunova, Dilfuza Mirbabayeva, Sitora Mahkamova, Nodira Arapova Nozima Giyaskhojayeva Moviuda Layeva Klara Umarova, Kamola Sohibova, Zebo Karimova Sabohat Abduvohobova, Yasmina Vahitova, Zulfiya Sultanbayeva, Dildora Kasymova, Shahnoza Gulamova.

Gulnara Karimova, whose vision in creating art week has promoted Tashkent to new heights in film, the arts and the fashion world. During a television interview, Gulnara was asked two important questions:

Question: If you could change one particular thing in the world and you had the power to make that happen, what would you change?

Answer: I would have no boundaries in the world.

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The second closing question was, "In your childhood and even now when you have to face obstacles, what enables you to overcome them?"

Answer: Facing obstacles makes you stronger. I take each one as it arises to overcome it.

The Tashkent International Film Festival invited press from throughout the world, who were given tours of surrounding areas such as Samarkand and various regions of Tashkent. One of the most popular tours included the Amir Temur Museum. Amir Temur is Uzbekistan's hero, who conquered 28 countries during his reign in the 14th Century.

Best Animated Film award went to Croatia's 'Dove Sei, Amor Mio', directed by Veliko Popovich. Iranian film 'Five Short Stories' emerged as the best short film, while Bulgaria's Ovanes Torosyan was honored with the 'Best Actor' accolade for his excellent performance in 'Ave' and The Best Film Director award went to Switzerland's Rolando Colla for his 'Summer Games.' Polish director Felix Kalk won Best Feature film for Joanna, and Urzula Grabowska won the Best Actress for Joanna.

For more information on the Forum of Culture and Arts of Uzbekistan Foundation and its projects, visit www.fundforum.uz, www.style.uz, http://www.tashkinofest.com/.

Pete Allman is a Las Vegas-based commentator, broadcast personality and celebrity interviewer. He also produces inspirational messages for television and other media. Contact him at peteonthescene@yahoo.com or (702)265-9099. Visit www.CelebrityScene.com Read more stories by Pete Allman.

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