Middle East film festival begins tonight at UMFA

By Katie Valentine, Staff Writer

Conflict and troubled times seem to be the only news coming from the Middle East, but an annual film series created by anthropology professor Laurence Loeb will give viewers a look at the true cultures of the countries in that region.

The U Middle East Center outreach program and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts present “The Middle East Through Its Films” cinema festival every Spring Semester. Each Middle Eastern country’s culture has a different style of film production that showcases a side of the country not many people see.

Linda Adams, a development officer for the Middle East Center who has studied the Middle East for 30 years, said that the cultures in the Middle East are so rich and deep that she still doesn’t know everything.

Loeb started the film series six years ago. He said he volunteers his time each year to pick the movies and prepare an introduction and discussion to follow the screenings.

Students and community members are welcome to attend the events, which last through the end of March. The discussions after the films get into deeper issues, such as relationships, marriage and gender roles, that are portrayed in the movies.

Dylan McDonald, a graduate student in Middle Eastern studies, has gone to the film series in the past.

“Watching the films is a great way to learn about a culture in an hour and a half instead of spending a week reading a book,” McDonald said.

In picking the films, Loeb’s first priority is to find a film that is enjoyable. He then makes sure it has a meaning. Loeb said films with political themes are avoided.

The first film, “The Kite,” is about a girl named Lamia who must cross a checkpoint on the border of Lebanon and Israel to get married. Lamia is reluctant to marry her betrothed because she is in love with an Israeli soldier who guards the border. “The Kite” will be shown tonight at 6.

“Times and Winds,” a Turkish film, will be shown Feb. 11, and “Unwanted Woman” from Iran will be shown Feb. 24. “Unwanted Woman” is the only film that is being shown on a Tuesday instead of a Wednesday. On March 11, “Caramel,” an Arabic film, will be shown and the last film, “The Band’s Visit,” a Hebrew and Arabic film, will be on shown March 25.

All the films will be shown at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts at 6 p.m. Adams said going to the series is a great date night because viewers can enjoy coffee and an intellectual movie in the museum.

[email protected]