New Soviet Art Doc Premieres at the Aero
The Desert of Forbidden Art marked its Los Angeles premiere on Thursday night at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. The doc tells the story of Igor Savitsky's quest to save avant-garde Russian art from Soviet censors and build a now legendary museum to house it in backwater Nukus, Uzbekistan. Celebrity narrators include Sally Field, Ben Kingsely, and Ed Asner, who ably portray the story's principals.
The movie's poster depicts Igor Savitsky as well as some of the artworks he saved.
The documentary benefits from a trove of source material meticulously tracked down by directors Amanda Pope and Tchavdar Georgiev. These include beautiful artworks, photos of Uzbekistan under Stalin, and even a training video designed for Uzbeks acclimating to Soviet society. Not only a story about art, the filmmakers also tell the equally unhappy tale of how Uzbekistan buckled under communist control during the twentieth century. This film is perfect for the serious Soviet-phile and neophyte alike, as well as anyone who believes that art only exists in big cities and not desert oases like Nukus.