12,000 years ago, the world’s first temple, Göbeklitepe, was built near Urfa in Turkey.
Massive carved stones were arranged in rings by prehistoric people who had not yet developed metal tools. The stones are covered in carvings of foxes, lions, vultures, and scorpions using only stone hammers and blades. The tallest pillar is 16 feet and the site pre-dates Stonehenge by 6,000 years.
After Göbeklitepe was dismissed by many as an abandoned Medieval cemetery, German archeologist Klaus Schmidt decided to look for himself. He saw a hill with a gently rounded top and knew it had to have been man-made.
Funnily, Göbeklitepe means “potbelly hill” in Turkish. Schmidt and a team of archeologists have been excavating and analyzing the site. The site is believed to have been a social ritual gathering place attended by hunter and gatherer inhabitants.
Have you been to the Göbeklitepe site? Let us know in the comments. And, be sure to sign up to get Festival emails so you don’t miss any SEEfest events!
While the 15th South East European Film Festival is temporarily postponed, we invite you to stay in touch and enjoy some of the films from our past editions online. They are available on Netflix, Amazon, iTunes and some on YouTube (and some for free)! We’ll share updates, tips, and recommendations on Instagram at @seefest and here, on our website.
Stay safe, and we hope you enjoy our movie choices! Be sure to let us know in the comments, which films are your favorites! Check out SEEfest At Home Part 2
This lavishly produced thriller was first screened at the opening of our festival in 2014. The story is told from the point of view of the examining magistrate who was tasked with investigating the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in June 2014. It perfectly summarized the festival’s theme, “Europe in time of turmoil”, highlighting the turbulent past that looms large over the present.
Directed by Andreas Prochaska. Main cast: Florian Teichtmeister, Jürgen Maurer, Melika Foroutan, Edin Hasanović.
THE WAY I SPENT THE END OF THE WORLD
Shown at SEEfest back in 2007, the film is a bitter-sweet throwback to Romania on the eve of the 1989 revolution, with ordinary people committing small and oftentimes comic acts of defiance while naively dreaming of swimming across the Danube to freedom – or fantasizing about escaping in a submarine.
Directed by Catalin Mitulescu. Main cast: Dorotheea Petre, Timotei Duma, Ionut Becheru, Jean Constantin.
The opening film of the 2017 edition of our festival. While recovering from a homophobia-driven assault, a Croatian professor confronts his own xenophobia after agreeing to help his Serbian neighbor memorize the Croatian constitution for a citizenship exam. An example of a great director-writer pairing (Rajko Grlić and Ante Tomić), this film features three amazing actors from Serbia and Croatia in a very funny and poignant ‘love story about hate.’
Directed by Rajko Grlić. Main cast: Nebojša Glogovac, Ksenija Marinković, Dejan Aćimović.
NO MAN’S LAND
Danis Tanović’s Academy Award®-winning satire of the war in the Balkans is an astounding balancing act, an acidic black comedy grounded in the brutality and horror of war. Stuck in an abandoned trench between enemy lines, a Serb and a Bosnian play the blame game in a comic tit-for-tat struggle while a wounded Bosnian soldier lies helplessly on a land mine. A French tank unit of the U.N.’s humanitarian force (known locally as “the Smurfs”), a scheming British TV reporter, a German mine defuser, and the U.N. high command (led by a bombastically ineffectual Simon Callow) all become tangled in the chaotic rescue as the tenuous cease-fire is only a spark away from detonation. Tanovic directs with a ferocious, angry eloquence and makes his points with vivid metaphors and savage humor as harrowing as it is hilarious. Searing and smart, this satire carries an emotional recoil.– written by Sean Axmaker.
Directed by Danis Tanović. Main cast: Branko Đurić, Rene Bitorajac, Filip Šovagović. SEEfest held a special 10th-anniversary screening of the film in 2012.
THE EYE OF ISTANBUL
The legendary Armenian-Turkish photographer Ara Güler dedicated his life to recording the spirit of one of the most vivid cities on earth: Istanbul. Güler’s colorful life and witty commentary will keep you entertained while you discover the unforgettable vistas and rarely seen corners of the great city. The film, directed by Binnur Karaevli and Fatih Kaymak, screened at SEEfest in 2016.
Become a guest curator for our online edition!
While we all need to do our part and follow the public health guidelines to keep us and others safe, shelter-in-place can be challenging. When you take a break from working remotely or get tired of binge-watching your favorite shows, join the SEEfest community of artists and create a short video, podcast, jingle or cartoon and share with us on Instagram and tag us @seefest or submit to us via the website.
SEEfest program and activities are supported, in part, by the California Arts Council, a state agency; Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Department of Art and Culture; and presented with the support of the City of West Hollywood. For more info on WeHo Arts programming please visit www.weho.org/arts or follow via social media @WeHoArts. Special thanks to ELMA, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for their continued support of our programs.
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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