Our man in Cannes

The 64th Cannes Film Festival that was not only a competition of feature films, but also a big opening for short films made by a new young generation of filmmakers just came to an end. A newly established section “Short meter in Cannes“ reflected current progress of that type of film. In 2011 the Cannes Film Festival management in order to promote short movies united all short films in one section called "Short meter in Cannes". Prior to that decision all short films fell under two categories “Short Films Competition“ and “Short Film Corner“. This year a young and promising filmmaker from Azerbaijan 29 year-old Rauf Khalilov presented his short film “The Chairs“ at the 64th Cannes Film Festival. It made Rauf the first film director from Azerbaijan who officially participated at one of the most prestigious film festivals.

Ludmila Khokhlova:

I met with Rauf at his place just two days before his departure. At the cup of tea we had a friendly chat about his works, future plans and just about life. Rauf Khalilov is no ordinary man. He has his own very unique perception of life and of art. At the third grade of Azerbaijan Art Academy studying art design Rauf felt the need to more deeply express the reality . "In the fine art I do not have enough room to move, see and hear, therefore in 2002 I started making animation films...

- What is most important for you in your short 2-3 minutes films? Is it the plot, the idea or just the visuals?

- All in one. It depends on what I’d like to narrate about. At the moment I am very interested in the faces of people. I believe that our faces have some kind of a cosmic fate imprinted on them, like a barcode.

- Do you think you are a fatalist?

-I’m realist.

- Your film «Exit” is probably about the fate of someone, is it?

- In “Exit” I tried to depict the life of an elderly man, who after certain age till the time of his death stopped going out of his apartment. The figure of a lonely recluse-artist can be transiently seen in the doorway of his apartment during the film. This hunched person became the embodiment of my thoughts and of the fact that each creative person should find his audience.

- You have eight short animated films and one feature film. Among them some were presented at the most prestigious film festivals in the U.S.A., Italy, Germany and France. I was under a huge impression after watching just few of them. The “Morning starts at 0:01 a.m.” for instance is about how everything on Earth has it’s beginning and it’s end…

- And this also embodies the aesthetics of life and death, to which everyone on Earth should be prepared.

- Your next film that was showcased at the Venice Film Festival was “Universal Game”. It is a one minute report about the Earth and how “people” from other planets or galaxies could perceive it.

- It reflects everything. Revolutions, motherhood, meaningless wars, love ...

- Your short film “One minute and four seconds” totally thrilled me. It told about last seconds of gravely ill patient on the operating table who’s life pass in front of his eyes. This film was presented at Oberhausen short film festival in Germany. Three years ago you started working on a feature film “Ideal world” in Los Angeles, in which you were a director, production designer and a sound engineer. Such trust in a young and not well known in Hollywood film maker is not a very common practice. Tell us about how you were invited to start working on that film?

- Eight of my short films have already passed qualifying competitions and were presented at the most prestigious film festivals. American producers that I work with apparently liked some of them and offered me to come to Los Angeles to make a feature film.

- What is this feature film about?

- About all of us. Played by American actor from Azerbaijan Saleh Ashumov film’s main character faces local gang members. He is threatened by them and eventually forced to move to another area of the town, a better one. However, fear follows him even in a new place. Once peaceful and kind person turns in to a victim of paranoia and becomes a murderer himself. This film is not only about the problems of American big cities. We tried to show the tragedy of the individual who lives in any urban area of the world. It is the story of mental problems people who live in the urbanized areas where the population’s density often itself becomes a generator of violence, may develop over time. I tried to send viewers a message about the harsh reality our protagonist faces in the movie and show the complexity of relationship between people of different perceptions and different approaches to the problem.

- At the moment the film is in postproduction. What future do you see for this movie?

- My producers and me are planning to submit the film to the festivals. I would really like to bring and showcase this film for Azeri audience, but unfortunately it does not much depend on me.

- You’ve just showed me your three-minute allegorical film “The chairs” that was made in 3D. It’s going to be presented in Cannes this year. What is the genre of this film?

-It is definitely a drama with the allegory that is used to heighten it’s meaning. It tells us about the leaders of different periods mostly of the WWII. The leaders in the film are presented in the form of chairs locked up in the confined space. This is absolutely not an attempt to diminish the importance of history or the leaders who was making it, but rather a kind of narration in which I give the viewers a chance to look at the politicians and at the history from a different perspective. A chair is like a shadow reflected by a particular person on the history of human life. In fact “chair“ is an integral attribute of any governmental structure. Essentially it is an object that symbolizes power. In the Medieval times that inanimate object was throne and no matter how much the shape of that attribute changed it’s initial purpose never changed whatsoever.

- You can draw, compose music, make films that are presented on the most prestigious festivals. Do you have any time left?

- Yes I do. Thanks to my family for all the support. I like to spend my free time with my wife and son out in the nature. It feels amazing! I do not like noisy companies for I think it is not relaxing, but rather tiring at times. I enjoy reading science fiction and I’m fond of physics, astrophysics and astronomy.

- Well, Rauf unfortunately it’s time to say goodbye, but not for long. I‘m sure we’ll meet again after the festival. I wish you all the best in Cannes!

Finishing our conversation we agreed that I will continue to interview Rauf when he returns back and the newspaper I represent will be the first to talk about Rauf’s trip to 64th Cannes Film Festival.

Festival was already over. All winners were announced. All scandals and all stars’ wardrobe were gossiped, but I still could not get in touch with Rauf. The reason was obvious. Long flight, the mandatory reports to all the sponsors and then finally we could continue our long interview.

- How was your trip to Cannes?

- It was very fruitful. Since it was the main goal of my trip I met with the film producers. I also spoke with some directors and screenwriters. I‘ve seen the projects of other film makers and it gave me the opportunity to be aware of new trends in today’s cinema.

- What was the reaction to your film?

- I’d confess, it was both, positive and negative. But the main and foremost is that there was a reaction.
- Tell us a bit about you future plans.

- As for the movies I have some contracts with producers from different countries. And I still work on my new music albums. There is an immense amount of work! But I'm ready for that!

- Rauf, at the end of our interview let me ask you who sponsored your participation at 64th Cannes Film Festival?

- I’d like to express personal gratitude to all my sponsors including, AG Bank, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Ministry of Youth and Sports and Directors Guild of Azerbaijan.

By Lyudmila Khokhlova.


Not enough movie theatres in Azerbaijan

Baku Sep. 16th 2011.

Film makers from Azerbaijan went global. During the last decades their films won many prestigious awards, however back in Azerbaijan nobody had a chance to see them.

-“Film distribution in Azerbaijan is not quite developed“, reports TV channel “MIR“. Today there are only two functioning movie theaters in Baku. After 90th most of them were closed or just stopped working. During so called privatization period they were acquired by entrepreneurs and remodeled in to shopping malls. Today it is easier to see Azeri films abroad rather than at home.

-“We afraid to produce our own film DVDs or upload them on the internet, because of the ubiquitous piracy” - laments Elchin Musaoglu.

Rauf Khalilov, music composer and film director is one of those who are eager to bring Azeri cinema on to the international level. Some of Rauf’s short films were shown and competed at many prestigious film festivals. This year one of Rauf Khalilov’s latest short animation was presented at 64th Cannes Film Festival. For the first time in the history of Azerbaijan Cannes hosted the pavilion for Azeri movie makers.

-“We did our best to show our professional work and excellent skills and we made all efforts possible to deliver our ideas to the Cannes Film Festival - most prestigious Festival in Europe“- said Rauf.

The new film development program launched in Azerbaijan three years ago made it all possible too. Only within last year Azerbaijan have produced 10 feature films. Even during the Soviet era "Azerbaijanfilm" studio produced no more than 5-6 films yearly. Another $9 million was received this year for Azeri movie production. However, the lack of movie theaters slows down the development of film industry in Azerbaijan. As of now it was only one movie theater reconstructed in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan. It cost around $65 million.

-"In October 2011, we’ll be able to start running it. Right now we’re negotiating with various foreign investors about the building of a film studio in Azerbaijan which will be equipped with the latest technology and high end facilities.“- says head of the Department of Cinematography of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan, Jahangir Mammadov.

It will be a big movie production studio on a European level, that would also host festivals. However, experts say, that in order to revive the film industry in Azerbaijan it is necessary for it to become profitable and for that it would be necessary to built at least 35 other movie theaters across the country, for there’s a whole new generation of young people in Azerbaijan who does not have any idea about the movie theaters of European level.


A film from Azerbaijan will be presented at the Cannes Film Festival for the first time

After years of lull films with the label made in Azerbaijan are once more ready to conquer the major international film festivals. Right now Azeri cinematograph experiences renaissance in movie making. New films lately produced in Azerbaijan marked the long-awaited revival in that field anticipating more films to come.

This year short animated film “The Chairs“ made by film director Rauf Khalilov who’s zealous to match the national film making to the level of the world’s cinema, becomes a success. Rauf’s film was selected for participation at the 64th Cannes Film Festival in the Short Film Corner. Rauf started getting his first recognition as a film director when in 2004 his film “One minute and for seconds“ was showcased at Oberhausen Film Festival. Later Rauf’s films took part at the Venice and New York film festivals. “The Chairs“ is a sort of a distinctive view at the history. In the film the chairs are locked up in the confined space symbolizing leaders from the different eras.

-"I think the Jury of the Cannes Film Festival will appreciate the relevance of our film. The acceptance of our film in to the Cannes Film Festival is a big day for all of us."- says the director of the film Rauf Khalilov.

Baku, May 2nd 2012.

A major international film festival will be held in France in a week from now. For the first time Azerbaijan will participate at Cannes Film Festival. The animated short film “The Chairs“ will mark a new milestone in the history of Azerbaijan cinematography. As of now some Azeri films already won at several film festivals. Not so long ago, just 15 years back the film industry of Azerbaijan was in crisis. Apparently, the most important art now is undergoing a renaissance“- says Sabina Suleymanova, "MIR" TV Channel reporter.

Azerbaijan film industry is 113 years old. The first films were made in Baku in the late 19th century. Back then producing half of the world’s crude oil Azerbaijan was at the top of it’s economic prosperity, becoming a Mecca for businessmen, merchants, scientists and artists. Azeri oil tycoons were willingly investing in to the film industry purchasing expensive movie equipment abroad and bringing it to Baku. It became the proclamation of the beginning of film industry development in Azerbaijan.


“Film production centers must be founded and developed in Azerbaijan” - Rauf Khalilov

15/09/2010 [12:53]
BAKU, September 15 - News-Azerbaijan, Kamal Ali.

The graduate of the Art Academy of Azerbaijan Rauf Khalilov began his career in art as a graphic designer. In 2002 switching from art to audiovisuals he began making animated and short films. Recently young film director and musician from Azerbaijan was shooting film “Ideal World” in Los Angeles. The shootings of the feature have been initiated in 2008. In his new film Rauf is a director, a production designer, a sound engineer and a score composer.

Today Rauf Khalilov answered to Novosti-Azerbaijan.

- Why Los Angeles?

- We managed to negotiate with American producers about this project. Played by American actor from Azerbaijan Saleh Ashumov film’s main character faces local gang members. He is threatened by them and eventually forced to move to another area of the town, a better one. However, fear follows him even in a new place. Once peaceful and kind person turns in to a victim of paranoia and becomes a murderer himself. This film is not only about the problems of American big cities. We tried to show the tragedy of the individual who lives in any urban area of the world. It is the story of mental problems people who live in the urbanized areas where the population’s density often itself becomes a generator of violence, may develop over time. I tried to send viewers a message about the harsh reality our protagonist faces in the movie and show the complexity of relationship between people of different perceptions and different approaches to the problem.

- What future do you foresee for your film?

- We are going to present it at the international film festivals. Then I'll try to bring the film here to showcase it to the local audience, but it’ll depend on the producers with whom I am working right now.

- What are your short films about?

- In 2002 using video, 3D-animation and video installations I made several short films. Most of them are dramatic indie films. These films have been presented and showcased at the film festivals in Azerbaijan, U.S.A., Italy, Germany and some other countries. In "The Chairs" a three minute short film I used the 3D-animation technology to convey my vision on world’s political games. And the relationship between politics and the society. The “chair“ is an integral attribute of any governmental institution or structure. Essentially it is an object that symbolizes the power. In the Medieval times that inanimate object was throne. And no matter how much the shape of that attribute changed it’s initial purpose never changed. In the film I used recorded speeches of famous world politicians such as Adolf Hitler and Richard Nixon. Film “The Chairs“ includes the blend of different epochs and periods.

- What is your film “Exit“ about?

- In the “Exit” I depicted the mysterious life of ceramist-recluse from Baku city, who after certain time of his live never left his house. He is no longer alive. In the film the lonely artist can be seen transiently in the doorway of his apartment. I shot him secretly. The film suggests that creative people should find the way to get out of the underground into society.

- You also create electronic music and recently you released album called “Monopolar world“, later your new single “Out of milky way“ also showed up on the internet. Could you please tell us about electronic music in Azerbaijan now?

- The club-culture existed in our country for decades continuing to develop. It is important to note that electronic music is not made only for clubs or discothèques. It is important for Azeri electronic music to become international and conquest overseas markets, so that the independent music authors could have a chance to promote and sell their product globally. Same as Azeri native can buy foreign music online a person abroad in turn should be able to buy Azeri music. In order to make it work we need to expand the Internet capability in Azerbaijan in terms of payment systems and facilitate the establishment and development of production centers so independent authors could sell their products the way it’s done abroad. It applies not only to electronic music, but also to any other products of intellectual property making it possible for independent authors to find their audience as well as giving the chance to the potential buyers to buy it.

- You cover different types of contemporary art, from visual to audio-visual, which one is a biggest priority for you now?

- I would say movies because of the number of arts presented and integrated in it. Though with today's high competition in the film industry it will require big investments, because even for the small indie film it is crucial to have sufficient funds.

- How do you spend your free time?

- I like to spend my free time with my wife and son out in the nature. I love to listen to any kind of music. I’m fond of reading, especially science fiction. I do not like noisy companies for I think it is not relaxing, but rather tiring at times.
One of my favorite subjects is Astronomy. Of course, I'm neither astrophysicist or astronomer, but I find astronomy very interesting and exciting.

By Kamal Ali for Novosti-Azerbaijan.


Rauf Khalilov films will be shown in Baku

July 13, 2012, 13:50 (GMT +05:00)
Azerbaijan, Baku, 13 July / corr. Trend Life D. Babaev

Today Directors Guild of Azerbaijan will showcase short films of a young film maker from Azerbaijan Rauf Khalilov. According to Trend Life, Rauf Khalilov has begun his career as a director in 2003. His first short was "One Minute and Four Seconds". Later he’d made few other short films. Among them, "The Chairs" and "Stability". In 2008 Rauf was invited to Los Angeles to make his first feature film "Ideal World" and in 2009 he also started composing electronic music.

Rauf Khalilov is a film maker, music composer and a designer. He graduated from Azerbaijan Art Gymnasium in 1998 and later in 2002 from Azerbaijan State Academy of Art.

By D. Babayeva for newspaper


Baku will host a recital of film director Rauf Khalilov

According to Rauf Khalilov, the independent film director, more attention have been attracted to independent film of Azerbaijan

16th July, 2012 TV Channel "MIR"

Baku, 16 July. More attention have been drawn to independent movie of Azerbaijan. This statement was made by the most promising Azeri director at his recital“, -TV Channel “MIR“ reports.

Rauf Khalilov is one of those who are now trying to bring national cinema to global level. Today we make huge contribution in to independent film of Azerbaijan. I believe it would serve as a very good incentive for young filmmakers who do not have enough technical equipment, "- he says.

Rauf Khalilov is a participant of the most prestigious film festivals such as Cannes, New York, Venice and Oberhausen. At his recital audience could see and evaluate his directing skills.
In 2008 Rauf Khalilov started the production of his first feature film “Ideal World“ in Hollywood. It will be released by the end of 2012.


Baku will host a recital of film director Rauf Khalilov

Novosti Azerbaijan
07.13.2012 [19:55]

BAKU, 13th July , 2012 - News-Azerbaijan Narmina Ali.

The Recital of Rauf Khalilov - a director, composer, and participant of the 64th and 65th Cannes Film Festivals was held in Baku.

His five short films made from 2002 with total duration 22 minutes were showcased during the event.

According to the author, the purpose of the event is to show that the independent cinema has full access to the world screen.

"For me film is a dialogue with the audience. It’s the same as the art - everyone interprets what he sees in his own individual way. Nevertheless a film always bears a piece of author’s perception“ - says Rauf Khalilov.

Having made a speech at the event Teymur Daimi, renown director, artist and film critic noted that experimental film makes it possible to revive a traditional live cinema.
-"In the past, experimental film was not a common thing for Azerbaijan, but recently the border between traditional and experimental film almost disappeared." - he said.

Rauf Khalilov is a member of the Directors Guild of Azerbaijan and of the most prestigious international film festivals. Rauf Khalilov is also a composer of electronic music and the founder of his own "RK" brand. His films «The Chairs» and «Stability» were presented at 64th and 65th Cannes Film Festival. He is currently working on a postproduction of his feature film «Ideal world», which was shot in Los Angeles and will be completed by the end of 2012. Rauf Khalilov is also working on his two musicals.

By Narmina Ali for News-Azerbaijan.


Film director Rauf Khalilov: “I was offered to make a film about crime in Los Angeles“.

TV Channel “MIR“ called Rauf Khalilov one of the most promising filmmakers of Azerbaijan. It said that he is one of those filmmakers in Azerbaijan who managed by his works to reach the high standards of Venice, New York, and Cannes Film Festivals. As a result he was offered to make a feature film by American producers. This fact alone shows Rauf’s huge creative and intellectual potential, his ability to use right resources for filmmaking and his talent as a movie director. It attracted worldwide attention to Rauf Khalilov’s films. Rauf himself is a director, a set designer, a sound engineer and the score composer of the movie “Ideal World “. Several Rauf’s films were featured at his recital that took place few days ago. In our today’s interview Rauf will tackle the ideas behind his movies.

- Rauf, please tell us about your films.

- The film “Stability“ is rather a thought about the ways political models are created, which enable to rule and develop the society in general; about the quality of life of people in the two given systems - socialism and capitalism. I tried to deliver some of my thoughts in form of the dialogue between two friends who have opposite opinions about life. In the dispute one of them advocates the socialistic way of development, the other one - capitalistic. By the end of the movie all of a sudden the defender of capitalism receives the phone call from his boss telling him that he is fired. In short, none of the two sides win. As to myself, I am skeptical about both systems. The phone call after which the protagonist gets fired is an allegorical way of showing that none of the existing systems is perfect. Most people have the tendency to be judgmental and see the situation either in black or white. I’m pretty sure that there’s whole lot of other ways to resolve problems. Life can’t be regarded as black or white. It’s way more colorful. I have been to different countries, observing how people live there. Sometimes I talked with them and I got to realize that the ideal society is not the case, the modern world’s biggest problem is that people try to label everything. Through my own experience and observation of life in different countries with the different models of society I came up with the idea of the film “Stability“ in which I expressed my own point of view at this problem making it utmost clear that both friends in the film are mistaken about the ways society should function. I think that humanity should try hard to find another ways of changing things rather evolutionary than revolutionary way.

- You both director and composer, which of these roles in you prevails? Which one of them would you choose as your career?

-I've been asked this same question before. It is hard to answer. For me composing and moviemaking are equally creative process. But being honest with you I enjoy science, especially astronomy and physics more than anything else.

- This is interesting. Being attracted to astronomy why you did not initially learn science?

When I was little I expressed keen interest in astronomy and at first I showed purely childish curiosity due to I was impressed by the scale of cosmos. “Why?“, “Where?“, “What for?” are the common questions we all ask.

- You’ve been amazed by the vast Universe?

I was very fascinated by that, but not just like by some beautiful picture. By the distance to the stars by it’s size and by all the other things that make the Universe inconceivable. I gave it a lot of thought, trying to figure that out in my mind, but it did not make much sense, because the scale does not fit in our mind. It’s something beyond our comprehension and this feeling is overwhelming. Astrophysicists and many other scientists warn us about the complexity of the Universe, saying that the Universe will not forgive us, meaning that we don’t quite understand the Universe and we need to explore it more thoroughly, realizing in what terrible condition we all are now and how dangerous space can be for us. All of the problems in cosmos like black holes, quasars, and the problem of stellar explosions are real. We put too much emphasis on technological progress, and exaggerate it’s importance. We are part of nature, of which we still know very little. After all, how much changes including revolutions and wars we experienced within the last 2-3 centuries in Eastern and Western cultural and political history? Political tension was too strong during the short period of time on a cosmic level. Despite the technological development unfortunately we don’t learn from history. We are still vulnerable to Mother Nature. Everything is interconnected, inseparable from each other. It seems to me that humanity live by the wrong values instead of paying attention to the real problems.

- At this point I’d like to ask you what inspires you to make movies and what are your goals as a director?

- My first experimental films were in 2002. I was more interested in the human psychology back then. In “One minute and 4 seconds“ I tried to explain the despair of a man who is about to die on the operating table in one minute and four seconds, as doctors desperately try to save him. Now I'm more interested in the political processes of the West, the political and social problems of our society and the world as a whole. I wish I could understand and show the nature of these processes in my future films.

- So, you always have an urge to share some of your thoughts and ideas through your films?

- I don’t worry about this too much. I never idealized art. One of the big film directors Andrei Konchalovsky said once, that there were such great masters like Fellini and we worshiped them but I believe, he said, that time cures all. Masterpieces are not masterpieces unless we perceive them as such in terms of getting what we need in them. Nothing is brilliant. Everything just becomes more complicated, but the course stays the same, basically nothing changes.

- It’s a little hard for me to digest. To me things seem a bit different. Tell us please what your other films were shown at the recital?

- “One minute and 4 seconds“ - the one that I mentioned before. “The Chairs“ - a film about the WWII. Chairs in the film are associated with the political leaders, especially leaders of the WWII era. Generally speaking the chair is a symbol of power. In the past it was a throne, that fully depicts the power itself. At the beginning of the film the heavy chairs come forward. They themselves characterize the leaders of that period. Then more elegant, smaller ones come to the political arena like new political leaders. Things seem to be changing, but the concept stays the same. The fact of the matter is that the main idea is not the power itself, the film is to show that the problem is in the nature of society and not in the leaders whom we authorize with power. I think that society is equally responsible for that. The responsibility of any citizen is huge regardless of the leader in power. This is what is called a citizen.

- I heard that you were offered to make a feature film in Los Angeles. Tell us please about that offer.

- I was asked to make a film about the crime in Los Angeles. The production of “Ideal World“, that‘s the name of the movie has already been done. At some point the postproduction process was stopped due to financial problems but then it resumed. So we expect to finish and release it any time soon.

- Are you planning to launch any new projects?

- I’m going to present several projects that will be completed by the end of this year and also some in 2013. Right now the postproduction of “Ideal World“ is coming to an end and we are planning to complete it and release by the end of 2012. Meanwhile I work on a music video for “All in one“ song, that I’m also planning to release by the end of this year. And also this year I’m planning to release two albums in the style of Ambient and Dubstep.

By Frangiz Handzhanbekova.


Film director from Azerbaijan will present his new short movie at the Cannes Film Festival

Rauf Khalilov, a film director from Azerbaijan will present his new film “Stability“ at 65th Cannes Film Festival.

Monday, May 14, 2012, 14:46 Baku, 09:46 GMT

New short film “Stability“ directed by a young filmmaker from Azerbaijan Rauf Khalilov will be presented at the 65th Cannes Film Festival in the Short Film Corner section that will be held from May 16 through May 27, 2012.

As the reports Rauf Khalilov becomes a Cannes Film Festival participant for the second consecutive year. A member of the Directors Guild of Azerbaijan as well as participant of the most prestigious international film festivals Rauf Khalilov is also a composer and a founder of his own production brand "RK". The new film “Stability“ that will be presented at 65th Cannes Film Festival was written, directed and scored by Rauf Khalilov. In “Stability“ the main characters were played by Fuad Asadov and Elshad Farzaliyev. Sponsor of Rauf Khalilov’s film will be Allure LG company.

Today Rauf Khalilov was interviewed by “Novosti-Azerbaijan“.

- What is your film “Stability“ about?

- In the film two close friends discuss the concept of everyday stability in life. Each of them have their own paradigm. One of them does not like how everything is made to work in life including the ideals people live by. He believes that things in life change way too fast. The other one in turn is trying to express his point of view, saying that everything is bound to change because stability does not always bring progress and it rather creates stagnation. It is for him to face and accept the harsh reality within seconds at the end of their conversation.

- What is the main idea of your new film?

- The main idea is the argument between two friends. Through their conversation we realize that the problem is in their approach to life. We all are either on the white side or on the black. Hence the alternative approaches in solving our everyday problems are mostly ignored. One of the characters, who is played by Elshad Farzaliyev, an outspoken defender of liberalism and the left-wing supporter during the argument explains his opponent that neither the property that he owns nor his possessions belong to him and in fact they are the soap bubble that might burst at any moment. His opponent who is played by Fuad Asadov instead brings his arguments in defense of capitalism and of all those radical values he believes in.

- Why you used such an ambiguous world for your film title?

- Well, it's about stability in the broadest sense of the word.
Sense of stability is as important as food for people. Today, living in such a fast paced environment with everything changing around in a matter of hours it’s very hard for people to adjust to the new realities. Post-Soviet Space changes for us were more acute and painful, because barely saying goodbye to communism we already plummeted into capitalist environment, where the rules of the game are absolutely different. Now we have entered so-called Social Darwinism Era with marginalized society in which the main purpose of everything becomes the consumption. This reminds me of the Ancient Rome Coliseum arena where the office plankton fights for the right to consume. Now the whole world is going through that stage.

- How, in your opinion, it affects the quality and safety of peoples’ life?

- Whether we like it or not, everything in the world is interconnected. Let me give you an example. When I get on the plane, I no longer worry about the working condition of the airplane’s engine as I used to. I rather worry about airplane’s crew, whether they make enough money to maintain a proper life style. At this point it’s important to understand that improving other people’s life you improve your own. I hold on to the thought that everyone on Earth regardless of his social status must think that way.

- In your films you tackle earthly problems most of the time, while in your music creations you constantly remind your listeners of the Universe. What’s with such attachment to Cosmos?

- When I was little I often went to the countryside with my parents. It was dark at dawn and in the distance I could see the silhouettes of the mountains. I was wondering how far those mountains were. But after a short while, forgetting about the mountains I was looking at the stars, trying to imagine how immense the size of Universe might be. That feeling was very unusual, strong and disturbing at the same time.

- Has something changed for you since then?

- The mountains got closer!

- After what you‘ve told me now it’s no wonder you love to read Sci-Fi.

- Yes, I'm fond of Science Fiction written by Arthur C. Clarke, Stanislaw Lem, and many others. Given the fact that we live in the Era of Global Technologies, I think that along with the other literary genres schools should actively introduce science fiction to children.



BAKU, 4th September, 2012

Novosti-Azerbaijan. Teymur Daimi, artist, filmmaker,

Ph.D. (PH.D) critic of contemporary film, art and culture.

Contemporary World Cinema is more multifaceted than ever. Incorporating innovative techniques and approaches from related areas of screen culture expanded the scope of contemporary cinema in terms of understanding film language. Just 30-40 years ago the "big cinematography" had a recognizable format and syntax as well as traditional attitude to the narrative structure of the film as a visual analogue of a literary work. And the film as well as theatrical play or literary work have ascended to a high dramaturgic scheme, which was based on the "Poetics" of Aristotle. This factor has united most of the films produced in different countries and on different continents. Only little groups of people were aware about the existence of cinema avant-garde and experimental cinema, which in it’s predominance for the nonlinearity and radicalism in the area of the movie language opposed itself to a big film industry. These followers either were engaged in that type of moviemaking themselves or were close to the artistic societies who produced these type of films.
But with the arrival of the digital technologies and with the innovative changes in the area of electronic media as well as with the advent of the Internet, the situation in movie making has radically changed. Speaking about contemporary cinema more of the terms like “screen culture”, “audiovisual art” or “expanded cinema” nowadays spread into culturology.  It means that within the last two decades traditional cinematograph has absorbed all kind of technical, aesthetic and stylistic discoveries and breakthroughs in the field of audiovisual art, TV, commercials, video clips, video art, and experimental cinematography.
Cinematic forms of  "expanded cinema" as the most radical wing of the art house now showcases not only in movie theaters but also in the museums and at the exhibitions. In this interdisciplinary field at the intersection of film and other arts, in my opinion most interesting things that substantiate the breakout beyond the established conventional formats take place. But what is interesting is that on the one hand, it is believed that the avant-garde experimental resource exhausted itself , because all that could be invented is already discovered and over invented and only remakes and remixes are remaining for the modern cultural figures, but on the other hand, one could assume, that introduced by postmodernism doubt about the creation of any possible new or original idea might refocus the attention of creative people toward more delicate matters in the production of the "intangible" knowledge.
In connection with that, creations of young film director from Azerbaijan Rauf Khalilov are very interesting and symptomatic. Working in the format of experimental cinematography that is considered by definition, marginalized and locked on itself, Rauf Khalilov nevertheless through the recombination of existing stylistic and conceptual methods gropes his own very personal communicational strategies with the audience. In this regard it should be noted that experimental cinema because of it’s specific laboratory approach don’t really spare the audience who in turn respond with disbelief to this type of films. Later on we’ll return to that important aspect, but first we’d like to note that Rauf Khalilov represents himself as an interdisciplinary creative figure. He graduated from the Azerbaijan State Academy of Fine Arts and his primary specialty is art-design.

For a few years Rauf has been seriously involved in music composition, performing  sound designing and writing score for his own films. As independent musician Rauf has recorded his own albums.
Electronic music by Rauf Khalilov
The combination of the artistic and musical abilities in one individual can be very beneficial for the career of a film director. Despite the fact that film is created on the basis of literary script it’s an audiovisual work in the first place. No wonder the famous Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky, compared it’s polyphonic compositional structure with the structure of a musical piece, not to mention the importance of the visual component - in many encyclopedias the movie is described as the branch of the visual arts. Being both an artist and a musician Rauf Khalilov as a film maker has an important benefit, that reflects on the temp and rhythm of the movies. If in fact we say that in most of Rauf’s films he holds a position of cinematographer, editor and graphic designer (3D graphics), we can talk now about the strong auteur cinema, which is supported by Rauf’s growing professionalism and perfectionism. In this case let‘s make it clear. Despite the fact that many films of Rauf Khalilov can be identified as video art films the author positions himself as a filmmaker. It coincides  with the opinion of the famous Russian film expert and specialist of culture studies K. Razlogova, who said that in contemporary audiovisual culture, where everything is very controversial and uncertain only author himself is to determine the trend of his film as a work of video art, documentary, or feature film.

Let’s go back now to the subject of the communicational strategy with the audience that largely determines the tone, style and creative concept of Rauf Khalilov‘s movies. This strategy, I would call, conventionally post conceptual dialog strategy that combines seemingly incompatible origins - the spirit of radical art film, and intentions of the “commercial” cinema that go back to the practice of the Hollywood studios. No wonder that Rauf’s favorite contemporary director is a British film director and producer Danny Boyle who in his creations successfully combined spectacularity and the openness to the unexpected experiments in visual language. What does this mean? We mentioned that experimental film is not quite viewer friendly. In  retrospective, almost throughout the last century experimental film directors were mainly involved in the delights of formal attempts in search of the forms of surrealistic meditation. Or of the celluloid specific base with all it’s living and vulnerable texture (structural film); the depicting of clean nature and games with time (A. Warhol); conversion of abstract expressionism of the moving images (S. Brehindzh). Translating a dreamlike, hallucinatory realities into film language (M. Deren and trance movies), etc. In all of these, in fact, laboratory experiments the stumbling block was the movie itself, film language, stressed by the authors narcissism of the film flesh. But not the viewer who in the most radical film experiments was not included. For example, who of the sane could have had the patience to watch hours of Warhol film opuses, in which nothing happened. The addressees of movie - experiments were either the creators of the films or critics or a very narrow circle of connoisseurs and admirers. In short, the artistic bohemia. This approach can be called a monologue in which an artist-director reveled by the process of self-expression and it was important for him only to speak and to hear the sound of his own voice. Any attempt to compromise with the viewer's perception was considered unacceptable and was regarded as a step towards commercial, mainstream cinema.

But the era of the purely formal searches was over - everything has already been invented and formalistic experiments, inheriting the spirit of early avant-garde of the last century smelled outdated. Today we live in the post conceptual time when even in an experimental environment of expanded cinema it is not self-reflection with infinite recombination of  film elements’ plastic forms that plays a role, but the ability to rehabilitate a sincere desire for a dialog with the audience like with the interlocutor and even further like with the coauthor, taking in to account that the creation of the film in it’s final form is composed in the mind of a viewer. And at this point Rauf Khalilov’s mostly intuitive approach is really interesting. He as the experimentator made each film as a complete, consistent and open artifact addressed to those who watches it, to the viewer - the subject of the perception. This  is called dialogic approach. Director is least interested in searching of the pure form. He understands that all that could be invented in this sense has been essentially invented, and further research in this area will lock up the creative process all by itself.
In other words Rauf Khalilov seeks an acceptable way of dialogue with the audience and thus perceives his own products as an important form of communication.
Let's see how he does it. It has to be mentioned that almost all audiovisual works  of Rauf Khalilov to date are short films. He directed his first full length «Ideal World» just recently and it is currently in post production. Rauf’s  films are pretty short in terms of timing,  and pretty capacious in terms of the meaning of work. The main problem here, is not a story, not a tale, not even a narrative structure, but it is a concept, the idea, the compressed meaning or plot. It fits the creation of the director into the mainstream of post conceptual current trend. It is important for the author to throw the seed of thought into the either conscious or unconscious mind of a viewer. For this reason, he abandons the popular among many independent filmmakers idea of atmospheric installation, which lengthens the frame, enveloping the viewer into a hypnotic fog  of a “stopped time“. Khalilov prefers brevity, conciseness and asceticism. Rauf is fully aware of the changing mode of perceptional viewer, who is under the constant influence of ubiquitous cliché thinking that fixates his attention and does not let long focusing on a single object. Therefore instead of breathing more air into the films, he rather abruptly cuts them on mid-sentence, forcing the viewer after receiving the impulse to think out the rest. This demonstrates the kind of interactive work between director and the audience. With the seed of the meaning thrown into his mind, the viewer after watching the film  starts to interact inside of himself. Hence the work of the director with the audience after the film ends is not over, but only  begins.
The image.

Author prefers monochromatic visuals and even when working in color he handles it in such a way so that it looks shadeless, often using the stroboscopic light effect - pulsating flicker film, that resembles the texture of a damaged vintage silent movie. Thus, it appears that the author seems to deliberately “prevent“ the viewer’s perception, destroying his habits of perceptive conformism and subconscious craving for entertainment and glamour. Given all this the director with the help of suggestive series of sounds and selected plot that contains narration about problems in the society still gets his way. Well-developed form of asceticism and calibrated tempo rhythm of  the film draw viewers’ attention to the very goal of the movie - it’s meaning. According to the director, nothing should take the viewers attention away from the perception of the concept. Film “The chairs“ the participant of Venice Biennale Festival  in 2007 and of 64th Cannes Film Festival which was entirely made in 3D graphics, would serve here quite a good example.
To our eyes In a sort of restricted space opens a very austere picture - a couple of chairs.  The voices of  very arrogant and confident  people in power from the past and present are heard over. Either dictators or just heads of states. Suddenly it reminds of a connection. The chair, as an emperor’s throne is symbolizing the power, orthe continuity of the discourse of power - in the past, present and future.  Nothing changes. History teaches us nothing. One despot replaces another in this circle of Samsara. And it  seems to be irreversible. But is it? Recalling Carl Jung’s analytical psychology, film “The Chairs” could be interpreted as follows. Swiss psychoanalyst talks about the so-called psychological inflation phenomenon, when one is being  identified with his high position (in our case the chair) so much, so once losing it he is destroyed as a person. It means that the symbolic power of chair, throne is interpreted as stronger than personality of a human being.
There’s another Rauf Khalilov’s short film called “Stability“, that participated at 65th Cannes Film Festival in “The Short Film Corner” section. In this film Rauf Khalilov has shown a dialogue on everyday life stability between two friends. In fact the entire film consists of 3-4 assembly stitches. Again, it’s all very moderate and understated. No details are given for it does not matter for the director where and when the dialogue took place. The characters’ personal details are all behind the scenes. The main goal is the subject itself. Within a few minutes of screen time we are imbued with the dramatic problems of the modern world, where no one can guarantee us any kind of social stability, where everything is so fragile and defenseless that even someone who once was confident and successful can easily lose everything overnight and have his whole life up in the air.

The same creative strategy can be seen in another Rauf Khalilov’s  short film “Morning Starts at 00:01 a.m.”.
The theme of the movie is death. Once again we see the monochromic visuals and we hear nervous music  that penetrates the deepest cell of our subconscious. No philosophical or metaphysical discourses that could dilute the effect of a direct meeting with the cold inevitable and unavoidable end every mortal will face. No profound visual reasoning on such a high and tragic topic. No affectation and bare emotional background. Only rigid, still frame images of lifeless artifacts made on the verge of criminology or necrophilia "aesthetics" - creepy-sterile, cold and unemotional traces of the work done by death. Everything else should develop in the heart and mind of a viewer. Director only injects the traumatic impulse of de-energized,  lifeless atmosphere in viewer’s  perception. In my view he hits a bull’s eye in the "brain" of the recipient.

The thrifty, capacious, non tolerant to excesses, strategy of director Rauf Khalilov, imbued with the spirit of Anglo-Saxon movie aesthetics and coupled with the social problems seen in his works speaks not only about his potential as an experimental filmmaker, but also about the opportunity to apply those techniques to more complex strategies in feature films in his further career. Rauf Khalilov never locked himself in the bohemian art ghetto and always responsibly built his career as a director, artist and musician. He has as prestigious film festival participations as Oberhausen 2004 and Cannes 2011-2012 under his belt. He also took part at the largest forums on contemporary art at Venice Biennale 2007. Rauf records his  music albums as well as he works on the music video.  Recently as a film director Rauf Khalilov made his first full-length movie “Ideal World“. It shows the increasing complexity in his creative goals and allows him to appeal to more traditional

forms of the film narration. In any case, it is clear that an appeal to the full length movie making will bring Rauf’s career on a new loop.  Who knows, maybe all the experience in experimental film Rauf Khalilov has up to now makes it possible to hone his skills and develop his own style and personal film aesthetics and will only benefit his career in the Big moviemaking. But that is another topic. The main and foremost is that Rauf Khalilov today represents one of the few experimental film directors of Azerbaijan and has an impressive number of ready to go and fully self-contained creative works, that undoubtedly provides a solid foundation for his future career in the movie business.

By Teymur Daimi for Novosti-Azerbaijan



Rauf Khalilov

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