Yacoubian Building

The Yacoubian Building was also made into one of the most expensive (and successful) films in Egyptian history

It’s hard to find popular Arabic (or Middle Eastern in general) novels translated into English, which makes the Alaa Al Aswany’s Yacoubian Building a perfect opportunity to read an Arabic novel.  Aswany is the most famous Egyptian novel of the modern era and this novel in particular drew strong criticism for its unflinchingly honest portrayal of modern Egyptian society.  The novel is set in modern Egypt and uses a variety of characters to expose the corruption, religious fundamentalism and disillusionment of modern Egypt.  In the backdrop of the Mubarak administration and the political upheaval of the last year this 2002 seems all the more prescient.

The novel features dozens of interwoven characters richly portrayed by Aswany, with each storyline highlighting a different indiscretion of Egyptian society.  It easily stands up to the best English novels of the past decade and is necessary reading for anyone wishing to expand their literary horizons beyond the western world.

Don’t just take my word for it though.  If you’re still interested buy a superb translation here. 

Africa 50 Forward Events – April – May 2012

An ongoing event on campus has been the celebration of fifty years of African Studies at UW-Madison, which has been filled with Africa related films and lectures throughout the year.  The celebration is winding down now, but there are still a few interesting films and lectures on Africa scheduled in the coming weeks.  Check out the website for more details on what events still remain and how you can get involved in celebrating UW’s continued commitment to African Studies.

Waltz with Bashir Free Screening Tuesday, April 5

As part of the Middle East Studies Program Spring Film Series, there will be a free screening of Waltz with Bashir on Tuesday, April 5 at 6 pm in Humanities room 1131.

Waltz with Bashir (2008) is internationally recognized as one of the best Middle Eastern films in recent years.  The film is an Israeli animated documentary film written and directed by Ari Folman.  It depicts Folman in search of his lost memories as a 19 year old infantry soldier in the Israel Defense Forces in the 1982 Lebanon War.  The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film and won the Best Film Award from the National Society of Film Critics.

For more information, email cmes@mideast.wisc.edu or visit mideast.wisc.edu.

Thanks and we hope to see you there!

Middle East Studies Program

MOVIE TOMORROW NIGHT

Middle East Studies is happy to invite you to a screening of the film Bab’Aziz tomorrow – Tuesday, March 22 at 6:00 pm in Humanities Room 1131, as part of our Spring Film Series.

Bab’Aziz is a joint production between Iran and Tunisia.  The film’s complex and nonlinear narrative chiefly centers around the journey of a blind dervish, Bab’Aziz (Parviz Shahinkhou), and his granddaughter, Ishtar (Maryam Hamid), who – while traveling across the desert towards an immense Sufi gathering – encounter several strangers who relate the stories of their own mysterious and spiritual quests.

For more information visit: http://typecastfilms.com/1027/bab-aziz-the-prince-who-contemplated-his-soul/

We hope to see you there!  Admission is free and open to all.

Thanks,

Middle East Studies Program

Middle East Film Series: Ajami

Middle East Studies is happy to invite you to a screening of the film Ajami on Tuesday, March 1 at 6:00 pm in Humanities Room 1131, as part of our Spring Film Series.

Ajami is a powerful crime drama set on the streets of Jaffa’s Ajami neighborhood – a melting pot of cultures and conflicting views among Jews, Muslims, and Christians – and told through the eyes of a cross-section of the city’s inhabitants.  As their stories intersect we witness a dramatic collision of different worlds and the tragic consequences of enemies living as neighbors.

Ajami was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film and won several awards at Middle Eastern film festivals.  For more information visit: http://www.kino.com/ajami/

We hope to see you there!  Admission is free and open to all.

Upcoming Film: Daughter of Keltoum

What: “Daughter of Keltoum”

Where: Birge Hall, Room B-302

When: Tuesday, December 14 at 6:00 p.m.

This Tuesday, the Center for Middle East Studies will screen the final movie of its fall film series. “Daughter of Keltoum” follows the story of a young Swiss woman who travels to her birthplace–an isolated settlement in the mountainous desert of Algeria–to find the biological mother she has never known. Her journey leads to a culture virtually untouched by contemporary society, one that still places great value on tribal structure and strict religious codes of conduct.

The film was an official selection at the Toronto International Film Festival, and an award-winner at the Milan Festival of African Cinema.