Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the meeting with participants of the «Filmfest-96» after the opening ceremony – Republican Palace, October 23, 1996

First I congratulate you on this event – the festival of festivals. I am happy and pleased that this festival is held in Baku. Probably you feel how this event has affected positively the cultural and moral life of our city and republic.

Most of you have been to Azerbaijan before; you know our republic and have good connections with it. You know well that in the past all of us paid special attention to the culture, art, and especially to cinematography. However, we have not such opportunities now. Today in your speeches you talked about the lack of opportunities for shooting films and about the financial problems. Now, we lack many things, what can we do. However, the main thing is that there is love fors art, cinema, and man.

I greet you, I am happy that you are in Baku. I think that those, who have come to the festival, done a good job. Because, today to travel from one city to another is very difficult. Despite of it, as you feel, life in Azerbaijan has taken its to normal course, people live and are interested in art, and love the heroes of films, you, the actors and men of art. You saw how they greeted you. Just pronunciation of your names caused long applause. I congratulate you on this event and I think that the festival is a movement towards the future. Perhaps, now this movement will not be speedy enough, however, it is a movement towards the future. The fruits created by you until now open a new stage for the development of cinema.

Of course, most things have changed. When we were young, cinema was a great happiness for us. But now, not only in Azerbaijan, but also in Russia, Georgia and other countries, in the world, everything has changed. However, despite all the changes, cinema remains as an important art and significant field of moral life. Do not worry and grieve. We`re experiencing a hard transition period. There are difficulties in economic, social, and political fields, but we will overcome them. Conflicts, blood, war – these are worse than the impossibility of producing films. All this created the difficulties which cinema suffers in all the Soviet republics, as well as, in Azerbaijan.

Despite of that, I see that you look good, you are beautiful as in the past. That`s why, I am glad that met you.

I also met several men-of-art both in Azerbaijan and Moscow in the past. Today personages of the performance demonstrated now asked that whether it was the same Aliyev, who paid a plenty of money to cinema? I do not know you want to criticize me or draw my attention. However, be aware that I have always paid attention to you and I do it again. Anyway, I am happy that when I worked in Azerbaijan, I headed the republic for 14 years, beautiful films were produced. They were both historical and contemporary films. These films, bravely focused attention on moral issues and negative cases in our life.

Do you know that when in the past we talked about the negative cases in the country, some people confirmed that we had them, some denied them. For example, when I disclosed bribery and all other negative manifestations in my speech, most people looked askew at me and asked about my purpose. They thought that it was impossible in the socialist society. I did not only disclose them, but also fought against them. Previously it caused sensation, when the films covering such manifestations, which were called ugly sides of our life. I remember, before I started to head the republic, our young cinematographers Rustam Ibrahimbeyov and Eldar Guliyev shot the film «In the one southern city». However, this films was prohibited both in Azerbaijan and Moscow. High authorities prohibited it: Leadership of the republic in Azerbaijan and leadership of the country in Moscow, as well as, the former minister of internal affairs Shelokov. It appeared that bribery of a policeman was shown in the film. He considered that this discredited the policemen, but in fact it said that one manat was given to the policeman as bribe. That`s why, they prohibited the film. I intervened in the issue, went to film studio and watched the film. I said that it was a beautiful film and they had to give permission. The film was demonstrated in all the Soviet Union and was a success.

Or, let`s take the film «Interrogation» («Istintag»). This was also the work of Rustam Ibrahimbeyov. This film was watched here for several times and each time it caused a trouble. Later I organized a collective review and all our colleagues said that this film discredited and disgraced our republic. However, this film was the artistic manifestation of my work and struggle against corruption in the republic. I thank them that they launched this topic. By the way, then I told them: do not give up this topic. They did the same. After finishing the production of the film obstacles and prohibitions began. In that case I took certain measures and this film gained fame. I remember, it won the state prize in Dushanba festival.

There is another case. Rustam Ibrahimbayov and Yuli Gusman together produced the film «A summer house for a family». To be honest, I did not know that they have shot such a film. Then there were complaints about Sharifov and sharp telegrams came full of serious accusations. I called him and tried to clarify the problem. He said that the film could not be permitted to TV, because it was against moral values. Then I decided to watch the film. By the way, we watched it together with my wife and members of my family. We could not see anything that could cause inconvenience. It was good. The next day I asked about lack of morality in the film. I called Rustam Ibrahimbayov, Yuli Gusman and our said employee. They were very nervous. Rustam said that he wrote the script and Yuli Gusman answered my question and said that it was his first, perhaps, last film. I began to talk about the film and listened to their proofs in order to make a decision. Later I instructed them to launch the film as it was.

There are lots of such examples. I remind all these in order to draw your attention to the fact that I respect cinema.

We produced good historical films. The late Hasan Seyidbeyli produced a beautiful film as «Nesimi». Eldar Guliyev shot «Babek». We have a high level historical film «Dede Korkut». We also have very good modern films, as «The Birthday» by Rustam Ibrahimbayov and Rasim Ojagov. I like this film very much. By the way, no one presented it to me. After watching the film I talked about it in one of the prominent meetings. By the way, no one was aware of this film, every one hurried to watch that film.

When I worked in Moscow in the capacity of the first vice chairman of the Soviet of Ministers, member of the Political Bureau, I was responsible for cultural issues. Perhaps, most of you do not know it, and some know that at the request of the late Yuri Andropov, Secretary General of the Central Committee, I was engaged in the preparation of a special resolution on the development of cinematography in the Soviet Union. We had several meetings with the prominent men of cinema, some of them have already have passed away. I met them in Kremlin, The State Television and Radio Programs Committee and listened to all of them for 4-5 hours. Then they were surprised that the member of the Political Bureau listened to them patiently and attentively. Nevertheless, all of you spoke excitedly, uncommonly, how to say, in a manner not proper to the party style. We prepared this important document for the development of cinema very hardly. I remember, later I came to «October» cinema and made a speech about the development of cinema. This report was published in press. I think that this resolution was one of the important resolutions on cinema and cinematography and I was its author. In one word, I belong to cinema and cinematography since I bought a ticket for a film until being one of the leaders of a state as the Soviet Union.

I repeat, cinema is experiencing hard days. I think that all these are temporary. We take several measures in order to help art in Azerbaijan and we will continue it. Perhaps, all these will not be possible immediately, however, in 2-3 years, after revival of economy, when we start getting harvest of today`s reforms and contracts, I think, we can give all what cinema needs. And you in your turn using the principles of freedom, entrepreneurship, market economy and democracy try to solve your personal problems.

I have not met you today to answer your questions or to make promises. Just I am always happy to meet men-of-art. You know that the art is within the heart of each individual. It seems that a man borns with talent in the field of art. This talent can be much or less. Someone can improve it, another not. However, those, who belong to high art, naturally, have a gift from God, and they are the most esteemed and wonderful members of society. I am always interested in all the fields of art, in theatre, cinema and others. Because I love them, I respect those who devoted themselves to art. Labor of those devotees is a real courage. You are selfless and hard-working people. You are ready for being selfless in order to delight and present happiness to people. Look, only 10-20 actors take part in a film, but millions of people take pleasure from the films created by them, they become happy or cry, feel different. That`s why, I am very pleased to meet you.

I greet you in Azerbaijan. I think that, time will come and broad scale festivals will be held here. I remember the festival you held in 1974 in Baku. How famous people came here! I remind you festival of TV films in Baku. I remember, the decade of the days of Russian culture in Baku in 1972, 1500 people came here, as well as, Lyudmila Alekseyevna. Do you remember our visit to Oil Rocks on ship? I remember then you danced the Azerbaijani melodies well. These were beautiful days. I remember those days until now. Nevertheless, 24 years have passed since!

I raise my glass to the honor of cinema, men or art and art! I wish you happiness, prosperity and progress! Cinema will live and develop further. You, men-of-art, will do a lot. I think that people expect you a lot. As well I. Thank you!