The Spring 2007 Season of CinemaEast
Presented by ArteEast, the Department of Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies and the Kevorkian Center at New York University

January 23 – March 20, 2007
Cantor Film Center - New York University
36 East 8th Street NYC

Box office opens 30 minutes prior to screening

     
    Tuesday, January 23 16, 6:30 PM
   
 

Yaacoubian Building (Imarat Yaacoubian) by Marwan Hamed. Egypt, 2006, 165 min, 35mm

Presented in collaboration with The American University in Cairo

Adapted from Alaa Al-Aswany's best-selling 2002 novel, director Marwan Hamed's debut feature is a breathtakingly audacious examination of contemporary Cairo. The action is centered around the residents of the Yaacoubian, a luxury building built in the late 1930s beginning to show clear signs of decay, with rooftop laundry facilities doubling as flats for the less fortunate. The lives and loves of a handful of Egyptian aristocrats –some flush, others living in shabby gentility¬– set the stage for this epic-scale drama.

Tackling everything from Islamic fundamentalism to homosexuality and corruption, the film was a cause célèbre on its release in Egypt where it proceeded to smash box office records and spark unprecedented debate. Featuring a cast that reads as a who's who of the best in Arab film talent, Hamed's film unveils the underbelly of a traditional society coping with modernization. Egypt's official submission to the Oscars. In Arabic w/English subtitles.

Followed by a reception hosted by The American University in Cairo.

   

Gilaneh
 

January 31st – February 14th, 2007

Special series: War in Iranian Cinema
Curated by Asal Shakeri and Fereshtah Taerpour
Co-sponsored by the Persian Arts Festival

“I remember fear of sirens, the horrible sound of bombs and missiles, running to shelters, and praying to not lose anyone in the War. I still remember the 8 years of war... And now we hear the rumbling of war machines again; another war with Iran.” –Asal Shakeri, curator.

For over 20 years, Iranian cinema has held a predominant place on the stage of world cinema. The most prestigious awards have been given to Iranian filmmakers year after year for their powerful narratives and beautiful storytelling. However there is one genre that has been overlooked and given little attention –the war film. Many of the most important Iranian directors have tackled the subject of the Iran-Iraq war – a traumatic experience that lasted eight years and left an indelible mark on the whole of Iranian society – but few have made their way outside Iran.

This series will be the first time many of these films will be viewed by a wide audience outside Iran. It provides a unique opportunity to address the issues of war, particularly at a time when the mainstream American media is beating the drums of military action all over the Middle East.

Curator's Biography:
Asal Shakeri was born in Iran and was trained as a graphic designer at Tehran's al-Zahra University. She has earned a place as a pioneer in new artistic expresssions and interactive design in Iran through her innovative work on the digital Encyclopedia of Iran-Iraq War. She was also the head of the research team of Cinema 76, the Multimedia Encyclopedia of Iranian Cinema. She has worked as a voice actor, set designer and art director in Iranian TV and Cinema industry. For the past three years she has been the Art Director and Cultural Events Coordinator of the Persian Cultural Foundation in US.She has also co organized the "Dialogue Among Civilizations" touring film program in 2002 that included five Iranian films and filmmakers, and curating the Iranian section at the 2006 New York Alwan Film Festival.

   

Bashu, the Little Stranger
Wednesday, January 31, 6:30 PM
 
 

Bashu, the Little Stranger (Bashu, Gharibeye Koochak) by Bahram Beizai. Iran 1989, 117 min, Beta SP

Hailed as one of the masterpieces of post-revolutionary Iranian cinema, Bashu, the Little Stranger opens during an Iraqi air-raid on a small Iranian village bordering the war-front in Khuzestan. When 10-year old Bashu’s loses his home and his entire family in the raid he takes refuge in a truck that unexpectedly drives north, close to the Russian border. There he is assumed to be ‘wild’ because of his incomprehensible dialect and dark skin; only Nai, a mother of two whose husband is away for work, takes pity on him. Soon she and Bashu weave a relationship strong enough that Bashu’s traumatic experience with the war makes way for hope and trust. In Persian, Arabic and Gilaki w/English subtitles.

   

The Legnd of Love
  Wednesday, January 31, 9:00 PM
   
 

The Legend of Love (Cherikeye Hooram)by Farhad Mehranfar. Iran, 2000, 83 min, Beta SP

Set among the high cliffs of western Iran in the heart of Kurdistan, The Legend of Love tells the story of Khazar, a female doctor who sets out on a journey searching for Hooram, the man she loves. Once a medical student, Hooram has quit school to work at a clinic for the victims of the Iran-Iraq war. Khazar carries with her a tape recording he made explaining his departure. When she plays it, he appears in front of her. The journey takes her through magical rituals and myths of Kurdish culture, among them the Kurdish "legend of love" which gives the film its title. The result is a remarkably rich portrait of Kurdish history and culture set in spectacular landscapes. Above all it confronts the problem of Kurdish isolation and marginalization . In Persian w/English subtitles.

   

The Adult Game
  Tuesday, February 6, 6:30 PM
   
 

The Adult Game (Baziye Bozorgan) by Kambozia Partovi. Iran, 85 min, 1992, Beta SP

Shortly after the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war, an Iranian border town is occupied by the Iraqi army. A small girl who has survived the invasion finds a baby amidst corpses of the dead. She also meets a young boy, Yunes, who is involved in the armed resistance against the occupation. Suddenly the two young children have to parent this little baby. The film tells the story of innocence lost for two children as they struggle to survive the ravages of war and preserve their own humanity. In Persian w/English subtitles.

   

Kamia
  Tuesday, February 6, 8:30 PM
   
 

Kimia by Ahmad-Reza Darvish. Iran, 1995, 92 min, Beta SP

Amidst the violence and chaos at the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war, a woman gives birth to a child at the same time as her husband Reza is captured by enemy troops. When the mother dies shortly thereafter the female doctor who delivered the child takes care of the newborn, a girl she names Kimia, and devotes herself to raising her. Nine years later when Reza is released from captivity, he soon realizes he has no surviving kin except for his daughter and is faced with the dilemma of whether to reclaim his daughter or leave her in the care of the woman she thinks of as her mother.

Warmly received by critics and jury members at the 13th Fajr festival. Kimia won the award for best acting, along a special Jury prize and a diploma of honor for its screenplay. In Persian w/English subtitles.

   

Gilaneh
  Wednesday, February 14, 6:30 PM
   
 

Gilaneh by Rakhshan Beni-Etimad and Mohsen Abdolvahab. Iran, 84 min, 2005, Beta SP

The year is 1988, Iraqi bombs rain down on Tehran while Iranians celebrate the New Year. Gilaneh, a peasant widow whose son Ismaeel has gone off to war, travels with her pregnant daughter Maygol to Tehran. Terrified and uncertain of what they will find there, mother and daughter make the perilous trip into the capital city, just as its inhabitants are fleeing in the opposite direction.

Fifteen years later, the United States attacks Baghdad. Ismaeel has long since returned from the earlier war, his body devastated by chemical weapons. A weathered Gilaneh cares for him day and night. The television flashes with scenes of the new war in which Iraq is now the invaded and not the invader, but Gilaneh is too estranged from world affairs to pay attention. She has sacrificed everything for her children, but her own hopes and dreams have been aborted by war and she is marked with bitterness and regret. In Persian w/English subtitles

   
    Wednesday, February 14, 8:30 PM
   
 

Panel discussion: War in Iranian Cinema
Moderated by Shouleh Vatanabadi (Prof. of Global Cultures, General Studies, Arts & Sciences, NYU)

Discussants:
Pari Shirazi (Associate Dean Tisch school of Arts, NYU)
Amir Mossavi (Middle East Studies Department, NYU)
Asal Shakeri, series curator

   

Leisure Time
  Friday, March 2, at the Tribeca Cinemas, time TBA
   
 

ArteEast is pleased to present in conjunction with the Alwan Film Festival:
Leisure Time (Awqat Faragh) by Mohamed Mostafa. Egypt, 2006, 94 min, 35mm

Leisure Time was the renegade box-office hit this summer in Cairo’s movie theaters. This low-budget film breaks radically with prevailing trends, a docu-fiction with a large cast of excellent actors, none famous or even known. The film also marks the return of once retired veteran producer Hussein Qalla. Leisure Time delves in the world of teen-agers from within and gives them unprecedented voice; we follow Ahmed, Hazem, Amr, and others, as they ask, “What to do?” The film does not attempt to answer the question nor dwell on its implications, it simply takes us to an adolescent world scripted from the inside. The film’s emphasis on real life rather than fiction was the source of its popular success. In Arabic w/ English subtitles.

   


Little Maestro


Improvisation

  Tuesday, March 20, 6:30 PM
  A program of documentaries on music, tradition and creative release
 

The Saïda Aïsha Moulid (Mawled al-Sayyeda Aïsha) by Hassan el-Geretly. Egypt, 23 min, 1997, DVD
US Première

Moulid festivities are a popular tradition anchored in Muslim societies dating back centuries. Intended to celebrate the birth of the Prophet and his lineage, they vary widely in content and form between regions and communities in the Muslim world. The Moulid has become a hallmark of Saïda Aïsha, one of Cairo’s colorful and popular neighborhoods, and a source of pride for its inhabitants. They stage a carnivalesque showcase, with grotesque sketches, floats, street theater, gender reversals, exaggerated body parts, song and dance. Beautifully filmed, Hassan el-Geretly’s short documentary captures the passion and joy of a neighborhood in a unique moment of popular play. In Arabic w/English subtitles.

Little Maestro by Rashid Kasmi. Morocco, 26 min, 2007, DV-CAM
World Première

Mohamed Ouboulmane, a six-year old child who lives in the Sefrou region of Morocco, has earned the title ‘Little Maestro’ because of his gift for dancing in the Amazigh tradition of Ahaïdousse. When he was three years old, he performed with the Maestro Mouha Oulhoussein, and in the summer of 2005, the Little Maestro performed in several places with the renowned Adour troupe across the Atlas mountains, amongst Amazigh communities. The film is a portrait of this young musical wonder. In Arabic w/English subtitles

Improvisation (Ertijal) by Raed Andoni, Palestine/France/Finland, 60 min, 2005, DigiBETA
New York Première

The craft of making musical instruments is a tradition in the family of Samir, Wissam and Adnan Joubran, three brothers from Nazareth, who are bound by a shared passion for playing the ud. Improvisation follows the three brothers, from Nazareth to Ramallah under siege and eventually to Paris, as they cross check-points, work, laugh, cry and quarrel, improvising music and daily life. Chronicling moments of hope and pain in the musicians’ pursuit of their small dream in the midst of the crushing Israeli occupation, the documentary is at once a sentimental look–but far from the clichés of victimization-at a Palestinian family’s life, and a universal reflection on family relations. In Arabic w/English subtitles.

Screenings will be followed by a conversation with Jonathan Shannon (Associate Professor of Anthropology, Hunter College

 
   

 

  April 25-May 6
  We Are Here
 

A selection of videos from Lebanon produced during and in the aftermath of the recent war with Israel

Co-presented by ArteEast and the Tribeca Film Festival with support from the Kevorkian Center (NYU).

Please check back soon for more details.

 

Cinema East is a collaborative project of ArteEast, Inc., the Department of Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies and the Kevorkian Center at NYU. This program is supported in part by the New York State Council on the Arts and New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs. It is sponsored by The American University in Cairo. Additional support is provided by the Persian Arts Festival, the Alwan Film Festival, Cima Media International, Farabi Cinema Foundation, and The Institute for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, Tehran.