Current condition and future of Azerbaijani cinema at a board meeting of the Azerbaijan Union of Cinematographers

A meeting of the Board of the Azerbaijan Union of Cinematographers was held in Baku on 4 June.

Preparations for the 11th Assembly of the Union of Cinematographers were discussed, its agenda and timing were approved. In opening remarks at the meeting, the chairman of the Azerbaijan Union of Cinematographers, Rustam Ibrahimbayov, noted that very important events had occurred in the country since the previous assembly.

“The goal of the Assembly is to respond, in front of the broad public, to the key question: are these events accurately and qualitatively reflected in cinema?” Rustam Ibrahimbayov said.

Discussing the agenda of the 11th AUF Assembly, members of the board came up with proposals that primarily concerned the protection of the interests of national cinema and prospects for the development of the domestic film industry.

Cinematographers unanimously agreed that the domestic film industry was going through a difficult period. The situation is largely caused by the underfunding of this area – in previous years budget allocations were insufficient for filming serious full-length films. Besides, cinematographers could not count on sponsor support either. However, in March this year President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev signed a decree according to which, in order to ensure the production of films on state order and the implementation of projects related to supporting young filmmakers, 5 million Azerbaijani mantas [roughly the equivalent of three million U.S. dollars – Ed.] were allocated to the Ministry of Culture from the state budget for 2019. As is evident, film industry development has secured great support from the state, so the main task now is to create fully-fledged scripts and produce high-quality films. After all, not all of the films being released are capable of taking a worthy place in the history of national cinema.

In addition, the question was raised regarding spectator readiness for viewing and evaluating high-quality films. According to board members, this problem deserves special attention. It was acknowledged that work on preparing spectators for that should be carried out everywhere – not only in the capital, but also in the regions of Azerbaijan.

During the meeting, filmmakers, among other things, complained about the lack of television broadcasts about cinema that could play a major role in shaping up good taste and, at the same time, talk about the history of Azerbaijani cinema.

One of the projects of the Union of Cinematographers which should contribute to the solution of this and other problems is the resumption of the activities of the House of Cinema. The project will be launched on the eve of the professional holiday of cinematographers – the National Cinema Day, which is celebrated in the country on 2 August. The cinema house will become a permanent meeting place for both filmmakers and non-industry professionals.

Other AUF projects include the revival of the film school. According to the director of the film school, Oleg Safaraliyev, the film school will start operating in September. It will have three workshops: “Film Direction”, “Film Drama” and “Animation”. The film school will provide free classes to secondary school graduates and those who have received a higher education and are interested in studying a new profession or replenishing their knowledge.

The board meeting also discussed the issue of awarding individual pensions and scholarships to members of the AUF. The board approved a list of industry professionals who will be provided with financial support.

In addition, new members were admitted to the ranks of the Azerbaijan Union of Cinematographers.

The Azerbaijan Union of Cinematographers is a public organization uniting, on a voluntary basis, cinematographic figures and professional cinema workers of Azerbaijan. The main goal of the Union is to develop national cinema as an integral part of national culture and world cinema.

The AUF was established at the First Constituent Assembly of National Cinematography Workers on 11 January 1963.