I Do Not Take My Name for Granted

Saodat Ismailova
Past event


Who accounts for the whispers forgotten in the oral tradition? Who accompanies the ghosts that haunt the visual tradition? Saodat Ismailova’s film pierces the forgotten and the silenced. Engaging the spiritual and representational in equal measure, the film is forceful but nuanced, intimate but communal, historical and imagined. Ismailova’s work is situated in the context of Central Asian cinematic history, collective memory, and women’s inner spaces. Within this context, Ismailova’s work indexes, recontextualizes, and bears witness. This program presents four of Ismailova’s short films from different stages in her career, marking the first time her films have screened theatrically in Los Angeles.


Presented in Uzbek with English subtitles.

In Ismailova’s films, which unfold in extended shots, viewers watch as age-old fairy tales come to life and religious rituals are undertaken.

Alex Greenberger, ARTnews

The program is curated by Jheanelle Brown.

about the artist

Saodat Ismailova

Saodat Ismailova was born in 1981 in Tashkent, in the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan. She studied film at Tashkent State Art Institute, and, in1999, she won the Grand Prix at the Tashkent Student Film Festival. In 2002, she accepted an offer to continue her studies at Fabrica, Centre for the Study of Arts, in Treviso, Italy. Two years later her documentary Aral: Fishing in an Invisible Sea won Best Documentary at the Turin Film Festival. 

Ismailova then mastered the art of directing and scriptwriting at Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute. Her feature debut, 40 Days of Silence, was nominated for Best Debut Film at the Berlin Film Festival in 2014 and won various international awards. The previous year she had attracted attention with Zukhra, her first video installation, shown in the Central Asian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

From 2015 to 2017, Ismailova studied at Le Fresnoy, France’s National Studio of Contemporary Art in Lille. Since 2017, she has taken part in numerous exhibitions and had solo exhibitions in such prestigious institutions as the Tromsø Centre for Contemporary Art, Norway (The Haunted, dedicated to the Caspian tiger, which is threatened with extinction) and Musée du quai Branly in Paris (with the interdisciplinary project Qyrg Qyz, 2018, also shown at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York).

In 2022, Ismailova took part in documenta fifteen and the main exhibition at the Venice Biennale (“The Milk of Dreams”). The artist’s work is held in the collections of Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

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Gulaim (2014) 

Dir. Saodat Ismailova, 28 min.


The Haunted (2017) 

Dir. Saodat Ismailova, 22 min.


Her Five Lives (2020) 

Dir. Saodat Ismailova, 13 min.


Chillpiq (2018) 

Dir. Saodat Ismailova, 17 min.