Middle Eastern films to promote awareness

By By Paige Fieldsted

By Paige Fieldsted

The U Middle East Center and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts are sponsoring a series of films from the Middle East in hopes of educating U students and faculty about Middle-Eastern culture.

“Given the fact that we have political, economical and emotional involvement in that part of the world, it is obvious why it is important to learn about the Middle East,” said Laurence Loeb, professor of anthropology.

“The films kind of bring home that we all deal with the same things in daily life–they help bring cultures together,” said Deborah Dilley, a linguistics graduate student and employee at the Middle East Center.

During the film series, which will run from Jan. 31 to March 28, a different film will be shown at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts every other Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The five films to be shown were picked to give the audience a look at everyday life in the Middle East.

“The films have been carefully selected to open up certain issues in the Middle East,” Loeb said, “with the focus on personal interaction, personal crisis, religious fanaticism and the way people make decisions in their daily lives.”

Following each film, Loeb will lead a discussion on the issues raised by each film and try to relate them to experiences the audience understands on a personal level.

“Short of taking people and plunking them down in a Middle-Eastern country, a fiction film story that is well made is one of the best ways of transporting people into another society,” Loeb said.

The five films will each showcase a different part of Middle-Eastern culture: a Jewish holiday, Iranian religion, Egyptian society, a Druze wedding and a Yemen engagement.

“I think the film series is a great opportunity to learn about the Middle East,” said Emily Daines, an undeclared freshman. “And, considering the current situation in the Middle East, it is an opportunity we should all take advantage of.”

“This is a great opportunity to see a film that you wouldn’t normally see in theaters,” said Dilley. “These aren’t movies you can check out from a video store.”

All films are free and open to the public. Dates and film titles include: “Ushpizin,” Jan. 31; “Under the Moonlight,” Feb. 14; “The Closed Doors,” Feb. 28; “The Syrian Bride,” March 14; and “A New Day in Old Sana’a,” March 28.