I mentioned elsewhere on this board (in an ages-old post I can no longer find) that the Central Asian republics have a rich filmmaking tradition that, save for a few recent festival favorites, is scarcely known outside of the former Soviet Union--indeed, it's a tradition that's been largely forgotten even there. Central Asian films made some impact in Europe as art films, but they also had a significant role in the popular cinema of the USSR. "Red Westerns" or "Easterns" (!) as well as folkloristic frescos often played to large audiences throughout the USSR.
Needless to say, very few of these films are available on DVD. A few are on Russian DVDs, e.g. Andrey Konchalovsky's lovely film "The First Teacher," but without subtitles for those who don't speak Russian or one of the Central Asian languages. It's just one of the many shames of world film culture that these robust national cinemas are (with the exception of some director-based retros here and there; and one major French retro in the early nineties, on the cusp of the breakdown of the USSR) out of view.
Actually, I'm writing this because there's been a minor change in this. A series of films by Uzbek director Ali Khamraev, curated by Seagull Films, has been making its way across the USA. It's now at the Film Center in Chicago
I hope those who can, will see these films and report back here. I've read about them but have never had a chance to see them. (I may try to get down to Chicago to do so, but it will be difficult.)
Other news is that the documentaries of Kazakhstan-based director Sergey Dvortsevoy will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray by Mark Rance at Watchmaker Films some time this year.
But the films I'm most dying to see are those by Tolomush Okeev, a Kirgiz director who benefited from a small retro in 2005. If anyone has a line on subtitled copies, I'm all ears...
I should say, for those who read French and can find a good library, there's a wonderful volume published on the occasion of the aforementioned Centre Pompidou retro that has a great wealth of information on the history of Central Asian cinema as well as key directors and films. And it has an incredibly detailed filmography, if I recall--albeit one that only goes through 1990, when the book was put together. I think the volume has a little bit on the so-called "Kazakh New Wave," which was very recent at the time (e.g. Nugmanov's Igla
Here's the cite: Jean Radvanyi, Ato Akhrorov, and Marilyne Fellous, eds. Le Cinéma d'Asie centrale sovietique. Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou, 1991.