Saodat Ismailova
Saodat Ismailova was born in 1981 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and lives in Italy, Spain and Tashkent. She started filmmaking whilst studying at the State Culture Institute of Tashkent. Her first film "Believe or Not Believe" was awarded the Grand Prize at the Tashkent Student Video Film Festival, Tasvir, in 1999. "The Last Guest" received the award for Best Camera at the International Film Festival of Almaty in Kazakhstan in 2000. After finishing her studies in the Uzbek capital in 2002, Ismailova carried out a year's creative development in the video department of Fabrica, the Benetton Group's communication research center in Treviso. The philosophy of Fabrica is to let students develop and work on their projects independently under realistic working conditions and under the guidance of experts in the fields of advertising and design. It was at that time that the short film "Zulfiya" (2003) was developed, which, among others, was shown at the Arcipelago Film Festival in Rome. "Zulfiya" is the fictitious journey of a mother to the banks of the drying-up Aral Sea. It is the story of a Karakalpak woman hoping to quench her child's thirst by searching for water. Her son's future, however, seems to be already determined. The situation of the Aral Sea, which is constantly shrinking, inspired the filmmaker to undertake this trip and to find a narrative parallel between the sea and the destiny of the people living at its shores.

In her most recent film, "Aral. Fishing on an Invisible Sea" (2004), Ismailova once again chose a location beside the great sea, half of which lies on the Kazakh side, half on the Uzbek side, painting a picture of three generations of fishermen. Their struggle for survival is mirrored in the drying-out sea and it's once so plentiful waters. The documentary was awarded the Best Italian Documentary Prize at the film festival in Turin and was shown at the documentary film festival in Nyon in 2005.