The history of Uzbek cinema can be divided into two periods: the cinema of Soviet Uzbekistan (1924–1991) and the cinema of independent Uzbekistan (1991–present).
A Cinematographic Department was created in 1920 in what was then the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, and in 1924 the first film studios were created in Bukhara as a cooperative enterprise between the Sevzapkino studio in Russia and the Commissariat of Enlightenment of the Bukharan People's Soviet Republic. Bukhkino, as a Russo-Bukharan cinematographic society, was also founded in 1924 and produced the first feature film in present-day Uzbekistan, The Minaret of Death by Viacheslav Viskovskii (1925), an exotic-themed film that was successful throughout the Soviet Union and was even exported abroad. Later, Bukhkino merged into Uzbekgoskino (Uzbekfilm) in Tashkent, which originally produced mostly Soviet anti-religious propaganda targeting Islam during the USSR anti-religious campaign (1928–1941).
Films of the Soviet period were shot either in Russian or Uzbek. The most critically acclaimed films of the Soviet period include films such as Maftuningman (1958), Mahallada duv-duv gap (1960), and Shum bola (1977).
Two prominent directors in the Soviet era were Nabi Ganiev (1904–1952) and Suleiman Khodjaev (1892–1937). While Ganiev, the first Uzbek director whose movies starred a majority of Uzbek actors (in previous films, most actors were Russian), engaged in Stalinist propaganda through his movies, and survived the purges, Khodjaev became a victim of Stalin's repression. His movie Before Dawn (1933) was ostensibly a criticism of Tsarist Russia, but depicting it as a colonial power, and the Uzbeks who opposed it as anti-colonial freedom fighters, made the authorities suspicious that Khodjaev was alluding to the Soviet Union. In 1937, The Oath by Aleksandr Ulos’stev-Garf was the first talking film produced in Uzebekistan. It also marked the end of an era as, during the Great Purge, very few new films were produced.
Uzbekfilm (Uzbek: O‘zbekfilm, Ўзбекфильм), established in 1925, is the largest and oldest film studio in Uzbekistan. The Uzbekistan State Institute of Arts and Culture in Tashkent is the major film school.
Few Uzbek films after Uzbekistan became independent have achieved international notability. According to some Russian film critics around 2009, many of the modern Uzbek movies were cheap and of low quality. They suggested that while the quantity of Uzbek films is going up, the quality was not. However, there have been several critically acclaimed films in recent years, such as Scorpion (2018), Hot Bread (2019), and 2000 Songs of Farida (2020). I’m not a terrorist (2021).
Main article: List of Uzbekistani film actors
Uzbekistani actors and actresses include:
Main article: List of Uzbekistan films
The following are selected critically acclaimed Uzbek films: