By Laman Ismayilova
August 2 marks the National Cinema Day, the annual celebration of Azerbaijani cinema to honor directors, actors, cameramen, script writers and many others who contribute to the national cinematography.
Day of the National Cinema is celebrated every year by the order of Azerbaijan's national leader Heydar Aliyev, signed on 18 December, 2000.
The first short, silent film of Azerbaijani cinematography "You are caught" was shown in Baku on August 2, 1898.
On this day, the audience witnessed a historical event - the foundation of Azerbaijani cinematography.
Nowadays, the country's film industry has entered a new stage of development.
Over the past year, Azerbaijani cinema has been successfully represented at the international festivals. Many initiatives and projects were carried out to promote Azerbaijani cinema worldwide. Let's take a look at highlights in 2021.
The Culture Ministry set up the Azerbaijan Filming Commission in June.
The State Filming Commission focuses on promotion of Azerbaijan's film industry at international level.
Azerbaijan can turn into a renewed film location for foreign filmmakers thanks to the country's historical and cultural monuments and beautiful landscapes. So, the filming in Azerbaijan may also contribute to the country's economy and tourism industry.
Production of patriotic films with Turkey
The film industry is one of the important areas of Azerbaijani-Turkish cultural cooperation.
Azerbaijan and Turkey will further enhance cooperation in the film industry. The sides agreed on production of joint films and series dedicated to Azerbaijan's victory in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War.
The sides also exchanged views on holding joint film festivals, cooperation between the public and private film organizations and cinematographers of the two countries.
Cooperation with Neflix
The Azerbaijan Culture Ministry has started a partnership with the world's leading streaming entertainment service Netflix.
The streaming service has over 195 million paid memberships in more than 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of genres and languages.
Speaking about partnership, the Culture Minister Anar Karimov expressed his hope that Azerbaijan would successfully demonstrate its cinematography at the international level.
Major success at international festivals
Azerbaijani films have won a number of awards at many international festivals.
"The Steppe Man" film (Cholchu) continues to enjoy major success at international festivals. Over the past years, the feature film has taken part in 136 festivals, winning over 80 prizes and awards in various categories.
This time, the film directed by Shamil Aliyev has been named "Best Feature Film" at several festivals, including Brandenburg International Film Festival 2021 (Germany), Brooklyn International Cinefest 2021 (USA), Fiction Film Festival 2021 (Spain) and Roshani (Reel) International Film Festival 2021 (India).
Meanwhile, the film was selected as the Azerbaijani entry for the "Best Foreign Language Film" at the 86th Academy Awards (the Oscars).
A feature film "Farida" has been screened at Cheboksary International Film Festival.
Actress Maryam Ibrahimova, who played the main character, has won the "Anna" prize for "Best female lead role" at the fiction film competition.
A documentary "Creators" has won a special jury prize at Vesuvius International Film Festival 2021, while Teymur Gambarov's short film "Gukhuroba" was named best at the Commonwealth International Film School of Young Cinematographers in Georgia.
New virtual film platform
Narimanfilm Studio has recently launched an updated platform of Azerbaijani films for compatriots living abroad.
Now local films are available on new virtual platform Az Cinema Online aimed at promoting Azerbaijan's cinema, television and culture on international level.
In addition to domestic films, platform visitors can also watch films produced in Azerbaijan by foreign filmmakers and leave reviews. Moreover, cinema lovers are invited to join discussions with film critics.
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