The following Middle East movies article is a guest post ** So many films focus on the political strife and violence in the Middle East, but this region is an area that can’t be defined by a single aspect. There are so many interesting and uplifting facets to this corner of the globe — and nowhere are they better displayed than in film. Here are 5 Middle East movies to inspire you to visit this ancient and fascinating region!
Captain Abu Raed
This Jordanian film from 2007 chronicles the life of a lonely and quiet airport janitor. One day he discovers a pilot’s hat, and local children mistake him for a captain and beg him for stories of his adventures. Through the stories, both children and Abu Raed are irreversibly affected and learn the power of dreams even in poverty. The film focuses on friendship rather than political or religious issues.
The movie takes place in 1920s Los Angeles, and follows an injured Hollywood stuntman and a young Romanian girl recovering in the same hospital. The stuntman spins a fantastical story for the girl, but as the story progresses, the line between reality and fiction blur and the audience is dazzled with scenes filmed in over twenty countries, including many Middle Eastern nations. The film is marked by its gorgeous cinematography and art direction. In particular, there is a colorful scene of whirling dervishes shot in the splendor of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul that highlights the beautiful architecture and art of the region. Soon after, you’ll want to be whisked away on your Turkey holidays.
Children of Heaven
Set in Iran, Children of Heaven centers around a brother and sister growing up in poverty. They each only have one pair of shoes, and when the brother is entrusted with collecting his sister’s shoes from the cobbler, he loses them. With no money to buy her another pair, they decide to share his pair. Released in 1997, Children of Heaven is a heart-warming tale of family love in the face of adversity.
Anlat İstanbul (Istanbul Tales)
Named ‘Istanbul Tales’ in English, this 2005 film is a series of interweaving stories by five directors: Selim Demirdelen, Kudret Sabancı, Ümit Ünal, Yücel Yolcu and Ömür Atay. Each story is based on a famous fairy tale – Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Red Riding Hood, the Pied Piper, and Cinderella. Istanbul is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and this film highlights the magic of the city by bringing this fairy tale stories into the modern day city. There are excellent views of the city, with scenes taking place in Beyoglu, Aksaray, and the Bosphorus. Anlat İstanbul won Best Turkish Film and Best Actress at the Istanbul International Turkish Film Festival.
The Color of Paradise
Directed by Majid Majidi, who also directed Children of Heaven, this 1999 film follows a young blind boy, Mohammad, who is considered an embarrassment by his father and is sent away from the love of his family to apprentice with a blind carpenter in a neighboring town. The film is visually stunning and there are some very beautiful scenes of Iran’s lusher locales. It was submitted as Iran’s entry for the foreign film category Academy Award in 2000.