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SEEfest at 15: Whose is this song?

Warning: singing can be a dangerous business! Ever since we took the road trip with Bulgarian filmmaker Adela Peeva in 2006 with her iconic film, it has been a non-stop movie travel through competing histories, similar yet antagonistic cultures, always peppered with characteristic black humor and idiosyncratic music. The Balkan Sound entertained our audiences through many more music and ethnomusic documentaries throughout SEEfest’s decade and a half.

Whose is this song? was our first opening film in 2006

And it all began with Whose is this song? in 2006, at the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles, our original home where SEEfest was welcomed and nurtured by programmer Margit Kleinman and media manager Stefan Kloo. 



Nicholas Wood wrote about the film in the International Herald Tribune and mentioned some interesting details.

“The film does not attempt to define where the song originally came from, although Peeva said she was given numerous differing explanations, including the possibility that it had been introduced by soldiers from Scotland who were based in Turkey during the Crimean War.

In Greece it is known as “Apo Xeno Eopo,” or “From a foreign land,” and in Turkey it is called “Uskudar,” after the region of Istanbul. 

The Turkish version was the subject of a film, “Katip” (The Clerk), directed by Ulku Erakalin in the 1960s, and the singer and actress Eartha Kitt recorded a version of the song, also called “Uskudar,” in the 1970s.”

Whose is this song? is available in the U.S. thanks to DER, Documentary Educational Resources collection in Watertown, Massachusetts. Check it out! It’s well worth it, and still very much relevant.

Whose is this song?
70 min, 2003
in Bulgarian, Turkish, Greek, Albanian, and Bosnian
with English subtitles

About the South East European Film Festival (SEEfest)

SEEfest presents cinematic and cultural diversity of South East Europe to American audiences and creates cultural connections through films, literary and art talks, retrospectives, and community events. The 15th festival will take place from April 29 to May 6, 2020. 

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