August 2nd, National Cinema Day in Azerbaijan

This article was originally published in Azerbaijani by

Radio Azadliq


The French film theorist and critic André Bazin, who discussed the

institutional mode of representation


The Myth of Total Cinema

wrote in his dissertation, “cinema is an ideological phenomenon. The concept men had of it existed so to speak fully armed in their minds, as if in some platonic heaven… the frescoes or bas-reliefs in ancient Egypt indicate a desire to analyze rather than to synthesize movement… the cinema owes virtually nothing to the scientific spirit.”

However, the most magical kind of art is that of filmmaking history, namely, scientific and technical progress developed rapidly in Europe and various inventions came about, one by one.

In December 28, 1895 in Paris on the Boulevard des Capucines , the French Lumièrs brothers  hosted the first movie screening at Le Salon Indien du Grand Café , and among them the famous La Sortie de l’Usine Lumière à Lyon,

The Exit

from the Lumière Factory in Lyon

, and l’Arroseur Arrosé,

The Sprinkle Sprinkled.

Each film ran between 46 and 49 seconds for the people of Paris, thus the youngest of the arts—cinema—was founded.

The Lumière brothers found a lot of interest from ordinary people in this sphere (which still had not received the status of an art) in different parts of the world, so the Lumières sent their equipment to countries which held the possibilities of plot lines which would be found interesting to their audiences.  In the second half of the nineteenth century, Baku was a destination for wealthy Europeans because of the hunt for black gold – oil. They brought with them the latest developments from Europe. One of these inventions was the


At first, they introduced foreign plots, but later added plots about life in Baku.  It was an experiment to study the level of public interest.

French Jews who lived and worked in Baku were filmed by the pioneer of Azerbaijani cinema, photographer and cinematographer Alexander Mishon, such as

The Oil Gush Fire in Bibiheybat

, The Folk Dance of Caucasus,

Farewell Ceremony for His Majesty Emir of Bukhara on ‘Velikiy Kniaz Alexei’ Steamboat

and You Stumbled, which were shown at the first independent cinema which opened on August 2, 1898.

Masuma Rzayeva wrote in her book, The Movie of the Land of Fire, about the first 60 years of the 20


century’s cinematography which also began on August 2


This date once again popped up in 2000, when then-president Heydar Aliyev declared August 2


as National Cinema Day.

Thus, for 16 years, National Cinema Day has been celebrated by a new film premiere on the same day. This year was no exception.

As always, Nizami Cinema Center hosted four young Azerbaijani directors at the Azerbaijan Cinema Studio, including The 40


Parallel (Amin Mirabdullayev), Black Garden (Amil Mamiyev), His Father (Zamin Mammadov) Postscript (Amin Mirabdullayev) and The Gift (Amin Efendiyev). They demonstrated their skills to professionals and cinema lovers alike.

The former clip-maker Ramiz Fataliyev and Mirabdullayev wrote the script for Postscriptum, which is dedicated to the conquest of Baku by the Nobel brothers.

Postskriptum stars Azer Aydemir, Aysad Mammadov and Ilgar Safat.

‘His Father’, directed by Zamin Mammadov and filmed by Ali Sultanov, is about the victims of the Karabakh war. The film is about a veteran journalist who sees a little girl in an elevator. Her father is also a journalist, who goes missing during the fighting in Karabakh, and the search for him…

The film stars Shamil Suleymanov, Fatih Tahirov, Mabud Maharramov and Ulviya Reza.

The Gift is directed by Amin Efendiyev, scenario by Yusuf Sheykhov and filmed by Elman Aliyev. It is based on the famous story The Christmas Gift by American writer O Henry and adapted to the modern Baku environment.

The film stars Ilaha Hasanova, Korkut Jafarli and created by Shamil Suleymanli. At the request of the Azerbaijani film officials, the film ends happily ever after.

The screenplay for ‘Black Garden’ was written and directed by Amil Mamiyev. The film is about ‘longing for the homeland.’ The director based characters in a momentary dream of returning to Karabakh. The director says that the name of the film, Black Garden, is no coincidence: “the garden part of Black Garden actually comes from the word ‘knot’, which comes from the tradition of people tying ribbons around trees for wishes. The film is seen through the eyes of those people who witnessed the events in Karabakh.

The film stars Elkhan Abbasov, Vidadi Aliyev and Rasim Jafarov.

But the novelty of this year’s event wasn’t only the 40th parallel. Ayaz Salayev submitted The Longing for Karabakh via the internet, produced by Azerbaijan Studio.

The film shared the views of Azerbaijani citizens of different ages and groups on the Karabakh conflict. This little video clip was posted on the internet, shown on TV and in cinemas as a preview. Salayev’s goal was to show the value of the people of Karabakh and how they cannot find peace with this loss.

In connection with National Cinema Day, Nizami Cinema Center’s opening ceremony was presented by the Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism, Adalat Valiyev and by folk artist,  prominent actress and president of the Union of Cinematographers of Azerbaijan, Shafiga Mammadova.

Valiyev also congratulated workers of cinema and awarded them honorary titles. Mamadova announced the annual awards to the winners of the Union of Cinematographers of Azerbaijan.

This year’s awards went to producer Adil Qulamov, the famous announcer Rafig Huseynli and sound director Kamal Seyidov and cash prizes were awarded to veteran cinematographers.The Azerbaijani Service to Cinematography award went to film director Eldar Guliyev.

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