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2012 Middle Eastern Film Series Focuses on Music

A scene from "Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul"

Oct. 10, 2012— The University of Utah’s Middle East Center will host a series of film screenings that focus on the music and culture of the Middle East. All screenings are free and open to the public. No tickets are required, but people are asked to arrive early for seating.

Bob Goldberg, professor of history and co-director of the Middle East Center, describes the series as “an engaging exploration of the use of film to examine the power of music in Middle Eastern society.”

The first screening, cosponsored by the Salt Lake Film Society, is “No One Knows About Persian Cats” (Bahman Ghobadi, Iran, 2009) on Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 7:30 p.m. at the Broadway Centre Cinemas, 111 East 300 South, Salt Lake City. In this film, two young musicians recently released from prison decide to form a band. Together they search for other musicians in the underworld of contemporary Tehran. Forbidden by the authorities to play their music in Iran, they plan to escape from their clandestine existence, and dream of performing in Europe. But with no money and no passports, it won’t be easy.

“Days and Nights” (Henry Barakat, Egypt, 1955) will be screened on Thursday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. in room 1110 of the Language and Communication Building on the University of Utah Campus, 255 S. Central Campus Dr. Singing sensation Abdel Halim Hafez stars as a love-struck suitor who falls hard for the beautiful Iman, but he soon finds his pursuit sidelined in this classic Egyptian musical romance. The courtship hits a snag when the swain steps in to take the blame for an accident caused by his brother and alienates Iman in the process. Highlights of the film include a romantic serenade from Hafez, who has been dubbed “the Brown Nightingale.”

“Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul” (Fatih Akin, Turkey and Germany, 2005) will be screened on Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m., also in room 1110 of the Language and Communication Building. Alexander Hacke, a member of the German avant-garde band Einstürzende Neubauten for more than 20 years, sets out to capture the musical diversity of Istanbul onto his hard drive. His aim is to expose western ears to the broadest possible spectrum of Turkish music, ranging from modern electronic sounds, rock and hip-hop, right down to classical “Arabesque” music. Fatih Akin, director of “Head-On,” accompanies him with his camera and shoots a portrait of Istanbul’s lively music scene.

Established in 1960, the Middle East Center at the University of Utah administers degree programs at all levels (B.A., M.A. and Ph.D.) and offers students, faculty and the larger community opportunities for the advancement of understanding of the Middle East. The center promotes specialized knowledge and public understanding of this crucial area of the world, which includes the Arab states, Turkey, Iran, and Israel.

For more information on the film series, contact the Middle East Center at 801-581-6181 or