wicklow films
Land Beyond the River

Hi 8, 57 minutes, 1998

Producer, Director, Camera, Writer: Taran Davies
Editor: Doug O'Connor

Landlocked by Russia, China and Afghanistan, Central Asia boasts two of Islam's holiest cities and many of its grandest mosques. Controlled by Russia until the collapse of the Soviet Union, Central Asia is now home to millions of Muslims rediscovering their Islamic roots. Join filmmaker Taran Davies as he sets out with two Uzbek friends to explore the sacred Islamic land of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Taran travels to Central Asia to film the greatest horseback marathon in the world, but ends up following in its path along the Silk Road. He attends a wedding where the bride must look at the ground to honor her husband, lives with a Russian couple who are fearful for their future in a Muslim land, witnesses Afghan pilgrims praying blasphemously at the tomb of an Islamic holy man, identifies the still fresh scars of Genghiz Khan's destruction of the great Islamic city of Bukhara, witnesses the rebuilding of medieval Islam's biggest mosque in Samarkand, visits the dungeons of a despotic Emir who once tortured two British officers with sheep ticks, discovers the grave of Tamerlane - the world conqueror responsible for reestablishing Islam in Central Asia, skirts around an Islamic civil war in Tajikistan, attends the ritual of a pecking contest between two quails, and attempts to reach his final objective - to get further East than Alexander the Great.

The Land beyond the River is a unique and intimate personal journey through a seemingly hostile Islamic land. An adventure full of revelation, wonder and humor, Taran's documentary is a portrait of an Islamic people still struggling to survive after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Taran concludes: "Central Asia's future is uncertain…the Silk Road will continue to entice warriors".

Wicklow Films, New York