Desert of Forbidden Art: Presented by CUFF & Artcity

We are excited to celebrate being half way to CUFF 2012, and super stoked to be showcasing two amazing documentaries as part of Calgary's Artcity Festival!!

USA, 2010, 80 minutes
Thursday September 15 @ 7pm
$8 Regular/ $6 Students & CUFF members
(Tickets available at the door)

Q&A with co-director Tchavdar Georgiev to follow screening!

How does art survive in a time of oppression? During the Soviet rule artists who stay true to their vision are executed, sent to mental hospitals or Gulags.

Their plight inspires young Igor Savitsky. He pretends to buy state-approved art but instead daringly rescues 40,000 forbidden fellow artist's works and creates a museum in the desert of Uzbekistan, far from the watchful eyes of the KGB. Though a penniless artist himself, he cajoles the cash to pay for the art from the same authorities who are banning it. Savitsky amasses an eclectic mix of Russian Avant-Garde art. But his greatest discovery is an unknown school of artists who settle in Uzbekistan after the Russian revolution of 1917, encountering a unique Islamic culture, as exotic to them as Tahiti was for Gauguin. They develop a startlingly original style, fusing European modernism with centuries-old Eastern traditions.

Ben Kingsley, Sally Field and Ed Asner voice the diaries and letters of Savitsky and the artists. Intercut with recollections of the artists' children and rare archival footage, the film takes us on a dramatic journey of sacrifice for the sake of creative freedom. Described as "one of the most remarkable collections of 20th century Russian art" and located in one of the world's poorest regions, today these paintings are worth millions, a lucrative target for Islamic fundamentalists, corrupt bureaucrats and art profiteers. The collection remains as endangered as when Savitsky first created it, posing the question whose responsibility is it to preserve this cultural treasure.

54th Art Biennale, Venice Italy
London International Documentary Film Festival
Palm Springs International Film Festival
Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago
Vancouver International Film Festival
Santa Barbara International Film Festival

"A gorgeous documentary" - THE NEW YORK TIMES

“A must-see film for anyone interested in art." - THE VILLAGE VOICE

"Fascinating story … absorbing documentary captures the flavor of the region, but the most arresting sights are inevitably those of the bold, richly colored paintings themselves.” - VARIETY