Series: Once Upon a Time in the Middle East
In conjunction with the exhibition Gifts of the Sultans, the Film Department will screen nine films that delve into the myths and realities of life across a broad swath of the former Ottoman Empire. Spanning seventy years and three continents, the series follows two thematic strands. Fantasies and spectacles pay tribute to the resplendence of court life in two variations of One Thousand and One Nights from major European auteurs—Michael Powell’s magical Thief of Bagdad and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s sensual Arabian Nights—while Jules Dassin’s dazzling caper Topkapi takes place in and around the Turkish palace now converted into a magnificent museum. The second theme of the series is the diversity of Middle Eastern cultures as seen in the films of five modern directors who have risen to international acclaim: Armenia’s Sergei Parajanov offers rhapsodic, surrealist visions while Uzbek director Ali Khamraev's rough-hewn mysticism recalls the visionary cinema of Tarkovsky. Contemporary life at street level is expressed in Nuri Bilge Ceylan's modernist canvases of Turkish ennui, in Youssef Chahine’s bustling panoramas of Egyptian cosmopolitanism, and in the lyrical tableaux of Iranian directors Mohammad Rasoulof whose poignant allegories mingle folklore with humanism.
Programmed by Ian Birnie and Bernardo Rondeau.