Internationally acclaimed American choreographer Mark Morris brings remarkable insights and inspiration to his creations. Now, timed to coincide with the world premiere of Morris’s new production of Layla and Majnun at Cal Performances (September 29–October 1)—performed by Mark Morris Dance Group, The Silk Road Ensemble, and Azerbaijani mugham vocalists Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova—BAMPFA screens four classics of world cinema selected and presented by Morris.
A traditional tale, Layla and Majnun, as expressed by the great Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi, has been adapted in many Middle Eastern and subcontinental cultures: Muslim, Sufi, Hindu, and secular. Its central theme of unrequited love is echoed in the films in this series—Through the Olive Trees, Abbas Kiarostami’s enchanting tale of young love; Tengiz Abuladze’s metaphorical The Wishing Tree, which reflects upon Georgian society during Soviet rule; Sergei Paradjanov’s outlandish and highly stylized picaresque Ashik Kerib; and, finally, Nikoloz Shengelaia’s silent masterpiece, Eliso, which is set in 1864 in the tribal communities of Muslim Chechen and Christian Georgian people and depicts a love affair binding together our hero and heroine.
Susan Oxtoby, Senior Film Curator