Leyli Gafarova 

Born in Baku, Azerbaijan


2015: Film, Royal Institute for Theatre Cinema and Sound, Brussels 

Filmmaker Leyli Gafarova who is currently Baku-based was born in Baku and raised in The Netherlands. She returned to Azerbaijan after finishing her film education in Brussels. She is an independent filmmaker and directed 8 movies/documentaries/shorts in total. Besides filmmaking, she has been part of several exhibitions as well.

Leyli directed and shot 5 short fiction before working on longer footage and documentaries. One of her most recent works is a documentary film “Once upon a Time in Shanghai” (2018) was both shot and directed by her. The film is about the production process of a feature film “The Bra”. Shanghai is the name of the neighborhood where the film is shot, and it is located between Baku’s major railway lines.

Leyli Gafarova mainly explores subjects such as urbanism, national identity, and gender. Her practice revolves around the processes and discovers them. The artist is inspired by the communication between people and parties, and the way humans interact with each other.

She is also one of the co-founders (see other: Ilkin Huseynov) of Salaam Cinema Baku (named after Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s 1995 movie of the same name), a hub for film lovers where they feature non-commercial, locally made, and historical films, held workshops with local and foreigner guests, and create opportunities for other artistic practices. There she, together with other contributing members, has been curating film programs, workshops, and educational programs.

2018:Once Upon a Time in Shanghai
2017: A Humble room ADO
2017: Everything is beautiful about life
2014: A syndrome of beautiful girls
2014: Fidelité
2014: Entre Quatre Murs
2012: Atmosphere
2011: Alles Om Het Even.

2018: “Think That Everything That Exists, Does Not Exist” - Group Exhibition, Yay Gallery, Baku.
2021: “Things we sense about each other, Things we share with each other”, Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe.



“Once upon a time in Shangai”, 2018
35 minutes

“A Humble Room ADO”, 2017