The Desert of Forbidden Art
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The Desert of Forbidden Art tells the incredible story of how a treasure trove of banned Soviet art worth millions of dollars was found in the desert of Uzbekistan.
During the reign of the Soviet Union, a small group of artists remain true to their vision despite threats of torture, imprisonment and death. Their plight inspires a young archeologist (and frustrated painter) Igor Savitsky. Pretending to buy State-approved art, Stavisky 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. He 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 priceless paintings are a lucrative target for Islamic fundamentalists, corrupt bureaucrats and art profiteers. The collection is as endangered as when Savitsky first created it, posing the question whose responsibility is it to preserve this cultural treasure.
Winner of many film festival awards. Official Selection PBS Independent Lens. Critic's Pick New York Magazine. Rave reviews in New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post and NPR.
Top customer reviews
It is a wonderfully uplifting example of what a single person can do even under impossible circumstance.
The film is extremely well made and a truly captivating tale of how one man with a passion for art but not the gift for creating led an effort to save the art of a generation in the Stalinist Soviet Union in a hidden corner of the empire.