A stylised, slightly idealised portrait of the life of Uzbek Muslims at the start of the twentieth century, just before the changes that the Russian Revolution would bring. Iskander, a small trader, lives happily with his two wives in an Uzbek village. After the death of his brother he gets his wife too, following Muslim tradition. At first he is worried if his idyllic life with his two beloved wives won’t be disrupted by this third wife; he is after all obliged to look after all of them well. But everything seems to work out. The problems only start when their lives are overshadowed by the arrival of the Bolsheviks, who come from Russia and ‘have brought the best for the Uzbek population’. The Bolsheviks start preaching their ideology about the agricultural community. At first Iskander helps them enthusiastically: carried away by the ideas of Communism, he grows to be the leader of his fellow countrymen. But then the new ideology starts having a negative influence on his private life. Polygamy is banned by the Bolsheviks, and in the meantime the dominant Bolsjevik female leader is trying to seduce him. Slowly he starts to see how his people is suffering under the ‘Red plague’. Poetic and idyllic at first, then much grimmer, Orator provides a clear picture of the Russification of a Central-Asian people that was not allowed to think and speak about its own traditions for a century. —IFFR
After studying philosophy and working as an electrician at Uzbekfilm, Razykov suspended his career pursuits to serve in the military. Upon returning, he performed various functions at Uzbek television, including director of art programmes, before entering VGIK’s screenwriting program in 1981. He then apprenticed at Mosfilm, where several of his screenplays were produced. He has since written and directed for both Russian and Uzbek film productions. For television, he was the director and screenwriter of the first Uzbek soap operas – Dolma and The Order. Razykov’s unique comedic voice was showcased in Voiz, which was featured at the 2000 Berlinal Film Festival. With it, Razykov carried Uzbeki film back into the international spotlight. In 1999 he became president of Uzbekfilm Studio. —Seagull Films
A landmark film in contemporary Uzbek cinema (it almost single-handedly helped revive the flailing industry in the late-'90s), this stylized and wryly ironic parable about the moral and cultural repercussions resulting from the imposition of a foreign ideological paradigm is one of the finest political comedies to have come out of Central Asia to date.