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Azerbaijan’s cinema turns 116

2 August 2014 08:00 (UTC+04:00)
Azerbaijan’s cinema turns 116

By Nigar Orujova

Cinema is doubtlessly one of the most powerful art form that can inspire people for one or other actions and definitely influence on formation of generations.

However, this form of art is still very young. Not every country's history of cinematography reached 100 years, while Azerbaijan's cinema celebrates its 116 anniversary on August 2.

Azerbaijan, a Muslim country, is still very open to the western world. Azerbaijan is a country that presented the Eastern world the first opera, first woman composer, and many other innovations new to the eastern world.

It is a notable fact the film industry in Azerbaijan was established almost at the same time as the invention of moviemaking. Nevertheless, the road of cinema developing was not simple.

The history of cinema started in Azerbaijan with French entrepreneur, photographer and cameraman Alexandre Michon, who had been actively involved in documenting oil fields and Baku since 1879.

Significant development of the industry was marked when the Belgian Pirone brothers came to Baku and founded a joint-stock company Filma in 1915.

The same year a first full-length feature film in Azerbaijani cinema - "In the realm of oil and millions" - was shot by Russian director and film producer Boris Svetlov with the financial support from oil barons of Baku.

The movies of this period in Azerbaijan mostly focused on the lives of laborers, oil fields and revolution.

A year later Svetlov directed the first musical comedy - "Arshin mal alan" by great composer Uzeyir Hajibeyov. It was a silent movie and the musical parts were performed by indoor musicians. Years later, in 1945, the movie was also remade as a sound film and gained popularity.

At that time, men actors played women parts in the films, however, starting from 1920th, women actors started to shot in the Azerbaijani films.

The first cinema factory was established in Azerbaijan in 1922 that was later renamed to Azerbaijan Photo-Film Department. The Department controlled all of the film distribution offices and private cinemas.

Starting from this, the era of private entrepreneurship in film industry ended and propaganda of Soviet ideology became the main idea of cinematography.

During the Soviet time, most of the famous and beloved movies in Azerbaijani cinema were musical comedies, as a severe censorship made it hard to make movies on serious issues.

Another significant moment in Azerbaijani cinematography became creation of the movie "On the shores of a blue sea" - the first sound film in 1935.

25 years later the first wide-screen color film in the history of Azerbaijani cinema, "Koroglu" depicted the folk legend about an Azerbaijani hero fighting against the foreign invaders.

After gaining independence in 1991 Azerbaijani cinema entered a new stage hard and not stable, however, the local film industry kept producing new movies.

Starting from this time, movies addressed more serious issues including patriotic one. Over thousand movies were produced in Azerbaijan in 24 years and the process of producing new ones is flourishing.

Opening new comfortable movie theaters in Baku attracted more people to the cinema, however, most part of the repertoire here are still came from foreign directors.

However, Azerbaijan is rich with talents, more and more films from Azerbaijan are now participating and winning international festivals, which indicates that the film industry in the country will reach new heights in the near future.

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