An Uzbek film director was convicted of slander on Wednesday for making a documentary on wedding rituals in the authoritarian ex-Soviet state, but released on amnesty, the artist and her lawyer said.
Umida Akhmedova said the court in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, found her guilty of slander and “offense through mass media”.
Ms. Akhmedova’s film, The Burden of Virginity, describes hardships young women face in the mostly Muslim nation during and after the traditional nuptial ceremonies, including the public demonstration of a bloodstained bedsheet after the first night. The film has never been shown in Uzbekistan, but is available online.
Ms. Akhmedova’s public trial used a conclusion of government-appointed experts that found her film “offensive for the Uzbek nation” and a media campaign that lambasted her films and photographs. Ms. Akhmedova also said the experts negatively evaluated her photo album on the life of rural Uzbeks, concluding the pictures prompt foreigners to think that Uzbekistan “lives in the Middle Ages.”
Her lawyer, Sergei Mayorov, said the court “completely ignored” his arguments and evidence proving Ms. Akhmedova’s innocence. He said the judge could have sentenced the director to three years in jail, but instead used an amnesty to release her.