Middle East Film Series kicks off

The U kicked off its fifth annual Middle East Film Series on Wednesday night with a movie about love.

“Live and Become,” the first movie screened in the series, is an award-winning film about the struggles of Ethiopian Jews in Israel during the 1980s.

“It’s really a story about love,” Laurence Loeb, a professor of anthropology, told a crowd of about 60 people before the screening at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts Auditorium. “In a sense, all of the films in the series are about love.”

Loeb started the series, which is free and open to the public, in 2004 in collaboration with the U’s Middle East Center and the Salt Lake City Film Center.

“I wanted to show the social and personal issues of Middle Eastern people that weren’t readily available to local people,” he said.

The aim of the series is to change the perception of the Middle East.

“I think a lot of Americans view the Middle East monolithically — that the people are all the same,” said Linda Adams, outreach director for the Middle East Center. “We hope to change that notion.”

This year’s series includes six films, chosen by Loeb, which represent a variety of Middle Eastern cultures ranging from Egyptian, Turkish, Israeli, Palestinian, Kurdish and Persian. Each screening is followed by a discussion where Loeb will answer questions and discuss the social and historical context of the film.

“Film is immediate,” Loeb said. “It gets into the heart and soul of a person and shows what makes them tick…I was blown away by the films this year.”

“Live and Become,” is a story about an Ethiopian boy who is airlifted from a Sudanese refugee camp to Israel in 1984 during Operation Moses, an Israeli campaign to save Ethiopian Jews from the famine that plagued much of northern Africa during the mid-1980s. The boy, who is only pretending to be Jewish, is adopted by a French-Israeli family and lives in fear that he will be kicked out of the country if anyone discovers his true faith.

“I wish I’d known about the series a few years ago,” said Molly Anderson, a senior business major. “The movie was amazing…very emotional. I’ll definitely be here for the next movie.”

Each film shown in this year’s series, or from previous years, can be checked out for personal viewing at the Middle East Center in OSH. A schedule of the series’ screenings can be found on the Middle East Center’s website at www.mec.utah.edu.

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