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Uzbekistan’s Silver Screen Promotes "Traditional Values"

Pulled from Tashkent theaters in October 2011 during its first release, “Nafs” was considered too radical in Uzbekistan; its director was suspected by authorities of promoting not just Uzbek traditional values, but Islamic ones. Three years later the film finally was allowed to be shown, attracting a full house in Tashkent's landmark Navoi Arts Palace. (Official Movie Poster)

Abdurakhmon, an Uzbek shepherd in his early 20s, lives in Uzbekistan's remote mountains, far from any town. After long days tending his sheep, at night he is glued to an old Soviet-era television set he inherited from his father.
 
Despite the poor signal, for hours he watches music videos, concerts and films about glitzy lifestyles in the West, leaving him disillusioned with his boring routine. Day after day, dreaming of the life he sees on television, he catches himself thinking, "I'd give my soul" for that. Yet, offered a chance to live a lavish Western lifestyle in the capital, Tashkent, Abdurakhmon has a blinding realization: Nothing can compare with the happy life of an Uzbek villager.
 
This is the plot of the controversial Uzbek film "Nafs" ("Temptation"), which, despite being produced and premiered in 2011, gained wide distribution on Tashkent’s silver screens only this year.
 
"The most scandalous film of the year," read the posters outside Tashkent cinemas screening "Nafs." On a sultry summer night, the film attracted a full house in Tashkent's landmark Navoi Arts Palace.
 

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Murat Sadykov is the pseudonym for a journalist specializing in Central Asian affairs.

Uzbekistan’s Silver Screen Promotes "Traditional Values"

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