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Borders Undone: The Middle East Now Festival in Florence
HuffPost Entertainment
April 7, 2015
Firenze chiama Medio Oriente, al via il festival
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April 3, 2015
 
 
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The Middle East Now festival is the largest festival in Italy dedicated to contemporary Middle Eastern and North African culture, featuring contemporary Middle Eastern cinema, art, music, food, talks, and special events that are shown in Florence and are not widely accessible elsewhere.

NYU Florence students are invited to take advantage of this opportunity to immerse themselves in a range of contemporary Middle Eastern films and cultural events that provide insight into the daily lives of people living in the Middle East and how they represent their experience. Students attend events with the filmmakers and actors, actresses and musicians and other cultural producers and participate, with a larger and diverse Italian public in talks and debates. 

NYUF and LPD have partnered with the MEN festival organizers Roberto Ruta and Lisa Chiari to bring a series of special opportunities to NYU Florence students. 

Bahraini-American artist Nasser Alzayani stayed in residence at VLP as he embarked upon his project ´Finding the Middle East in Florence´: creating a sketchbook of the city that documented the Middle Eastern influences that he found throughout. Surprisingly, he found important bits of Islamic influence in some of the most imopprtant works of pre-Renaisssance and Renaissance art. Alzayani hosted´Anyone can Draw´ and ´Urban Sketching´ workshops for students to introduce them to his method for documenting his explorations of the city and to encourage them to document their own experiences.

Students were also invited to attend the opening of his exhibition ´Finding the Middle East in Florence´ at the Galleria ETRA where original drawings from his sketchbook were shown alongside a photography exhibition ´Everyday Middle East curated by Lindsay Mackenzie and NYUF professor Alessandra Capodacqua, which featured a collection of images of ´daily life´ from Instagram that expressed the mundane reality of many people who live life in the Middle East including in regions torn by war. 

A small select group of NYUF students were selected to participate in the NYUF student jury to award the Festival´s Prize for Best Short Film. Led by Jim Carter, the jury attended film screenings over 5 days, met with and interviewed several artists and filmmakers, and through their deliberations chose the best film Angelus Novus and runner up Shouk, which they announced in English and Italian at the Festival´s closing ceremony at the Odeon Cinema. 

To take a look at Nasser Alzayani´s book visit this link.

Also see Melanie Cuccioli´s video documentary of the festival here.

 
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Program
 

Middle East Now Festival
April 8-13
43 films in the program, 18 short films and 37 Italian premieres. A journey through Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Kurdistan, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Palestine, Qatar, Syria, UAE and for the first time Turkey. 
The full programme of the 2015 Middle East Now Film Festival is available here. 

NYU Florence Student Jury for the festival´s Best Short Film prize
April 4-14

Urban Sketching Florence
February 4 - April 11
Artist Nasser Alzayani will be returning to NYU Florence as resident artist of the Middle East Film Festival and to continue his Urban Sketching project with NYU Florence students. He will be in residence from April 7-14 and will be presenting his Sketchbook on Middle Eastern Influences in Florence at the Middle East Film Festival.

Finding the Middle East in Florence Exhibition
April 11, 6:00 PM at Galleria ETRA - Studio Tommasi, Via della Pergola, 57.

Finding the Middle East in Florence Book
You can take a look to Nasser´s book project here.

 
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Middle East Now Winning Film
Choosing one film to win the NYU Florence prize for Best Short Film
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