Saodat Ismailova [Uzbekistan / France]
“18,000 worlds” and more

  • Film screening
© Saodat Ismailova
Parallel worlds passed down through stories by women of Central Asia.
A journey through the collective memories that emerge from the boundaries.

Saodat Ismailova is an artist and filmmaker from Uzbekistan. She has received worldwide attention, having shown in the 2022 Venice Biennale as well as documenta fifteen. A retrospective exhibition of her work was held at the Eye Film Museum in Amsterdam.
Ismailova’s camera captures the very landscape of Uzbekistan: the deserts and ancient ruins of the Silk Road, the cities of the Islamic world, past and present, and buildings erected in the Soviet era. Within this landscape, Central Asian myths and folklore, rituals and customs, are quietly passed down and performed by women across generations. There, the boundaries between reality and parallel worlds blur, and collective memories emerge and vanish.
Five major works from recent years will screen for the first time in Japan, with Japanese subtitles, at this year’s Theater Commons Tokyo. Included in the program are Her Right, a collage of Uzbek feature films from the 1930s to 1980s depicting women and their customs, 18,000 worlds, a new work from 2023 which is inspired by the cosmology of Islamic mysticism, and Bibi Seshanbe, a Central Asian Cinderella story that drew much attention at documenta. By inviting us into parallel worlds, these films are sure to incite quiet revolutions in our eyes and minds.

Films (in the order of screening)

Her Right​ (2020​) 15 min.
The Haunted ​(2017​) 2​4 min​.
18,000 Worlds​ (2023​) 31 min.
Bibi Seshanbe​ (2022​) 52 min
Chillpiq​ (2018​) 17 min.


Saodat Ismailova
Saodat Ismailova lives and works in Tashkent and Paris. She is recognized as an important voice of the first generation of Central Asian artists who came of age in the post-Soviet era. She studied at the Tashkent State Art Institute and Le Fresnoy in France. In 2004 her documentary “Aral. Fishing in an Invisible Sea” (which she made with Carlos Casas) won Best Documentary at the Turin Film Festival. Her feature film “40 Days of Silence” (Chilla, 2014), supported by Cinefoundation, premiered at Berlinale Forum and was selected for Cannes Film Festival. In 2013 she presented her first video installation at the Venice Biennale, and in 2022 her work was selected for “The Milk of Dreams”, the main exhibition at the Venice Biennale. In response to her selection for documenta fifteen, she initiated research group Davra to support, develop and empower voices from Central Asia. Works by Ismailova are in the collections of museums including Centre Pompidou, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and Almaty Museum of Modern Art.

© Rinat Karimov


March 1st [Fri]/18:30–21:00
March 2nd [Sat]/11:00–13:30/15:30–18:00
*Artist talk | 13:30–15:00
March 3rd [Sun]/11:00–13:30/14:00–16:30 *Commons Forum #1 (Booking essential.)
March 9th [Sat]/14:00–16:30/17:00–19:30
March 10th [Sun]/11:00–13:30/14:00–16:30

Performance times

Approx. 150 min.


Institut français de Tokyo, Espace images
2F, Institut français de Tokyo, 15 Ichigaya-Funagawara-machi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-8415


Adults | 1,000 yen
*No assigned seating.
*The following programs at Theater Commons Tokyo ’24 include a ticket for this program. (Reservations required)
– Apichatpong Weerasethakul “A Conversation with the Sun (VR)”
– Q / Satoko Ichihara “Yoroboshi: The Weakling”
– Nastaran Razawi Khorasani “Songs for no one”
*Information about participating to the Artist Talk by Saodat Ismailova (to be held on March 2)
– Please reserve a ticket for the screening on Saturday, March 2 at 11:00 AM if you would like to be sure to have a seat. Then you will be able to attend the talk at your seat after the screening. 
– For those who will attend the screening on a date and time other than the above you can attend the talk only if there are still seats available. Please show your screening ticket at the reception desk (first-come-first-served basis).

Buy tickets


Subtitled in Japanese


Direction, Writing and Editing | Saodat Ismailova

Venue Support | Institut français de Tokyo

Related programs

Commons Forum #1 “Multiple worlds, histories, and stories—Is polyphonic art possible?”
Date | March 3rd [Mon] 16:00-18:00

Commons Tour (Tour A, B)
Dates | Tour A: March 2nd [Sat], 3rd [Sun], Tour B: March 9th [Sat], 10th [Sun]