Down The River by Asif Rustamov, a USA premiere at the 48th Worldfest Houston!

For the third time, after “The 40th Door” by Elchin Musaoglu in 2009 and “Buta”  by Ilgar Najaf in 2012, the Azerbaijan Center and Houston-Baku Sister City Association were pleased to collaborate with WorldFest Houston International Film Festival along with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan Film Studio in Baku, Azerbaijan to present Asif Rustamov’s new film DOWN THE RIVER, a poignant drama from Azerbaijan at the 48th Worldfest Houston.

Let the festivities begin: introducing Azerbaijani wines at the Worldfest opening reception!


To introduce the guests of the Worldfest to the flavors of Azerbaijan, Mr. Toghrul Mammadov in collaboration with Mr. Leon Sierra, owner of Mid-State Wine and Liquors imported in Texas, in April 2015 and for the first time ever, wines from Azerbaijan and donated some bottles to the Worldfest Houston at the opening night on April 13th 2015, taking us one step further in the promotion of the country of Azerbaijan in Texas.

All the distinguished guests were delighted to taste SIERRA Land Of Fire selection of white and red wines from Shamkir, Azerbaijan.

The film: Axınla Aşağı (Down The River)

The synopsis

Ali coaches a rowing team in a provincial town. The young squad also includes his son Ruslan, who finds it difficult to meet the demands Ali makes on him, and his father’s frostiness and continual dissatisfaction are getting him down. Ali is experiencing midlife crises and only Ruslan is preventing him from leaving his wife Leyla, whom he criticizes for spoiling their son. His finds solace in his Polish lover Sasga, who’d rather have Ali for herself and dreams of starting a new life with him. Just before an important race, in the interests of the team’s performance, Ali decides to replace Ruslan, who was originally chosen for the event. But when the tragedy strikes that same day, Ali is overcome with emotions he doesn’t know how to deal with.

The cast


The director

AsifRustamov_Portrait_2Asif Rustamov was born in 1975 in Baku, Azerbaijan and studied in Economic University and Azerbaijan State University of Culture and Art. Down the river is his debut feature film. His filmography includes shorts like Sunset (2002), Labyrinth (2003), With the back of Kybla (2009) and documentaries like The Crossroard (2004), Time of Mercy (2006) and Sun City (2007). The House (2007) won awards in Asiatica Film Mediale (Italy), Cine Pobre (Cuba) and Houston (USA) and invited to Eurasia (Kazakhstan), Kineforum (Russia), Rotterdam (Netherlands), Clermont-Ferrand (France), Fribourg (Switzerland), and Cottbus (Germany).

He co-founded the Association of Young Filmmakers of Azerbaijan and is an editor of the Azeri film magazine Fokus.


On April 14th 2015, Mrs. Irada Akhoundova, CEO of the Azerbaijan Center in Houston, TX and President of Houston-Baku Sister City Association, was happy to receive, on behalf on Mr. Asif Rustamov,  the Worldfest Houston International Film Festival Silver Remi Award for “Down The River”, Independent Theatrical Features Awards – Dramatic – 2015.

We truly wished Mr. Rustamov would have been present that day and feel very proud for his success! We hope that, in the future, we will have the honor of welcoming the movie directors!

The production

azerbaycanfilmAzerbaijanfilm (Azerbaijani: Azərbaycanfilm) is an Azerbaijani state film production company. It was established in 1920 as a photo-cinema department at Azerbaijan SSR People’s Commissariat, and in 1923 renamed to “Azerbaijani Photo-Cinema Office” (AFKI). It went through several name changes, including “Azdovletkino” (1926–1930), “Azkino” (1930–1933), “Azfilm” (1933), “Azdovletkinosenaye” (1934), “Azerfilm” (1935–1940), and “Baku Cinema Studio” (1941–1959), before adopting its present name in 1960 as “Azerbaijanfilm” cinema studio named after Jafar Jabbarly. Currently, “Azerbaijanfilm” is a part of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan.

Visit AzerbaicanFilm’s website to learn more about their activities:

About Worldfest Houston

20150414_Down-the-river_Screenshot-WorldfestWorldFest is one of the oldest and largest film & video competitions in the world. WorldFest was founded over 50 years ago as Cinema Arts, an International Film Society in August, 1961. WorldFest became the third competitive international film festival in North America, following San Francisco and New York. WorldFest is the oldest Independent Film & Video Festival in the World. It evolved into a competitive International Film Festival in April, 1968. It was founded by award-winning producer/director Hunter Todd to present a quality film festival for the Independent filmmakers. Hunter Todd has been honored with more than 115 international awards for creative excellence in film production, and he has been the producer, director, writer and/or cameraman on more than 300 motion picture and video productions. The mission/vision statement of WorldFest is to recognize and honor outstanding creative excellence in film & video, to validate brilliant abilities and to promote cultural tourism for Houston, to develop film production in the region and to add to the rich cultural fabric of the city of Houston.  All members of the WorldFest staff are filmmakers.

Visit Worldfest website for more information about their amazing work:

We would like to express our sincere thanks to all participating organizations that made the screening possible and for helping us in creating stronger awareness about the country of Azerbaijan in Texas. Special thanks to Kathleen Haney, Worldfest Program Director, for her constant support!

Many thanks also to all the attendees for supporting our activities!

Press releases: