Uzbek culture has been shaped by its geographic location as a central node along the Silk Road that linked China and Europe. The still-impressive cities of Bukhara and Samarkand emerged as wealthy cities along these trading networks.Uzbekistan was once part of a succession of Persian and Mongol empires, including the Timurid dynasty that was established by the great military strategist Timur, better known in the West as Tamerlane who was born in a town near Samarkand.Rivalry between the three Uzbek khanates in the 19th century allowed Russia to incorporate present-day Uzbekistan into the Russian empire. Under Soviet rule, Uzbeks were purged and suffered cultural erosion under the policy of forced Russification. Despite the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan remains a single-party state under President Islam Karimov.
The influences of Turkish, Arab, Persian, and Russian cultures can be seen in the literature and film of Uzbekistan.The Timurid poet Ali-Shir Nava'i is considered the father of Uzbek literature and classic stories of Persian and Arab origin such as Farhad and Shirin and Layla and Majnun are important elements of Uzbek literature.
Hamid Ismailov, an Uzbek writer and journalist who is banned in Uzbekistan, is best-known in the West for The Railway, which satiricallyexplores the influence of Soviet Russia on Uzbek culture. Other Uzbek writers include Mamadali Mahmudov and Dadahon Hasanov.Uzbek cinema emerged in the 1920s; its development was strongly influenced by Russian films. Directors like Ali Khamraev are amongst the directors that made up the Soviet New Wave Cinema of the 1970s. Yusup Razykov whose films include The Dance of Men and Erkak is a leading figures of a post-Soviet movement known as the New Uzbek Cinema.