Documentary feature exploring life and scientific legacies of Ulugh Beg to be screened in Ischia and Venice International Film Festivals

Uzbekistan’s ambassador to UNESCO, Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva, and her husband, Timur Tillyaev, have produced a documentary feature, “Ulugh Beg. The Man Who Unlocked The Universe,” exploring the life and scientific legacies of Ulugh Beg. Directed by Bakhodir Yuldashev the film traces the trials, tribulations and victories of this remarkable 15th century astronomer who ruled Transoxania, Central Asia, from 1411–1449 AD.

The documentary will soon be screened in two high-profile events in the world of cinematography – the Ischia and Venice International Film Festivals.

“I have been fascinated by Ulugh Beg’s personality and the historical role he played ever since I was a child, and therefore the idea behind creating this film developed a long time ago. A great polymath and enlightened ruler, Ulugh Beg was an extraordinary man and it’s fair to say his incredible impact and legacy reach beyond the boundaries of time and space,” Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva said, commenting on the forthcoming release.

“I was absolutely convinced the film should be made by someone born and raised in Uzbekistan, someone with extensive background knowledge of the subject. I am delighted Bakhodir accepted our offer to work on the project, and threw himself so whole-heartedly into the story, the epoch, and the extraordinary personality of this great scholar and ruler.”

Grandson of the conqueror Tamerlane who founded the Timurid empire, Ulugh Beg made some ground-breaking scientific discoveries, most notably in the field of astronomy. During his rule, Samarkand was transformed into the world epicenter for the most advanced studies in astronomy. The monumental observatory he built brought together some of the most prominent scholars of the time and their collaboration yielded astounding results. Ulugh Beg compiled a catalogue containing data on 1,118 stars and measured the year to within 25 seconds of its actual duration. And perhaps even more impressive, his calculation of the earth’s axial tilt as 23.52 degrees is still the most accurate measurement to date.

“This was a man with a grim but extraordinary life. A remarkable person with an impressive intellect, a thirst for knowledge and a passion for science, he was far ahead of his time, but, tragically, he fell victim to the darkness and ignorance of his epoch,” Ms. Karimova-Tillyaeva continued.

The film features interviews with leading experts and scholars from the USA, France, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Russia, Uzbekistan and the Netherlands.

The documentary also showcases artefacts, manuscripts and exhibits held at the Bodleian library in Oxford, the British Museum, Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur in France, and the Museum of the History of Science, St. John’s College, Oxford. Footage was also shot at Princeton University, the Griffith Observatory and the University of California.

The film stars world-renowned actors Vincent Cassel, Armand Assante and Francisco Ovalle, as well as Uzbek actors Maruf Otajonov, Javakhir Zakirov and Khashim Arslanov.

The score for “Ulugh Beg. The Man Who Unlocked The Universe” was composed by well-known record producer and songwriter Walter Afanasieff, winner of the 1999 Grammy Award in the Record of the Year category for producing “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion.

The soundtrack also features a brilliant performance by outstanding Uzbek singer Sevara Nazarkhan.