Russian Director Bakhtyar Khudojnazarov Dies at 49

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Bakhtyar Khudojnazarov

The Tajik-born director won the best director award at Venice for "Kosh Ba Kosh" in 1993.

Russian director Bakhtyar Khudojnazarov, a winner of the Venice film festival's best director's Silver Lion, has died in Berlin. He was 49.

The news was announced by Khudojnazarov's friend, director and producer Renat Davletyarov. No details regarding the cause of death were revealed.

Born in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, Khudojnazarov graduated from Moscow's Gerasimov Institute of Cinema in 1989 and first came to the international limelight in 1991 with his debut feature Bratan (Brother).

The story of 17-year-old Farukh and his little brother Azamat won several awards on the international festival circuit.

Khudojnazarov's second feature, Kosh Ba Kosh, set in Tajikistan during ethnic clashes in the country that followed the demise of the Soviet Union, won him the best director's Silver Lion at Venice in 1993.

The director's best-known film was 1999's Luna Papa, featuring Russian star Chulpan Khamatova and German actor Moritz Bleibtreu. It won several international festival prizes and collected the Russian award Nika in the best film, best director and best actress categories.

In recent years, Khudojnazarov divided his time between Moscow and Berlin. He died at a Berlin hospital after a long illness.

His most recent project was the TV series Getery mayora Sokolova (Major Sokolov's Women), which aired last year.