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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 27, 2005

Syrian Writer To Offer Commentary Following 'Wedding In Galilee,' Nov. 7

Syrian writer Nihad Sirees will offer commentary and participate in a public discussion following the free, public screening of the film "Wedding in Galilee," at the University of Iowa on Monday Nov. 7 at 8 p.m. in Room 107, English-Philosophy Building. Sirees is a participant in the UI's International Writing Program.

Centered on a traditional wedding that the elder of a Palestinian village is holding for his son, the 1987 film is an allegory that touches on issues of marriage, tradition and national identity. To hold the wedding past the imposed curfew, the elder has to invite the Israeli army commander and his officers as guests of honor at the ceremony. The film won the International Critics Award at the Cannes Film Festival and the Grand Prize at the San Sebastian Festival.

Hugh Ferrer, IWP program coordinator, worked with Sirees to identify a film that captures the intensity and the complexity of national identities inside of Arab-Israeli conflict zones.

A novelist and screenwriter, Sirees lives in Aleppo, Syria, and his novels include "Cancer," "The North Winds," "A Case of Passion" and "Noise and Silence." Of his many television dramas, the most widely acclaimed, "Silk Market," set in Aleppo during the political turmoil of the 1950s, was shown throughout the Middle East, in Germany and in Australia. His latest series, "The First Gleam of Dawn," provides a frank depiction of Syria's government-controlled media. His Web site is

"We hope that this screening will raise awareness among students, faculty and staff of the University Libraries' newly acquired films that feature the Middle East and the Muslim world," said Vicki Hesli, professor of political science in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Hesli is helping to facilitate the sharing of research and information among faculty who share a common interest in Islam, the Middle East and Arabic.

This is the first in a series of events sponsored by UI International Programs this academic year that will examine Islamic, Middle Eastern and Arabic issues. In addition to organizing public events, the Islamic, Middle Eastern and Arabic Studies group will be developing new courses and expanding curriculum offerings in subject areas related to Middle Eastern history and culture, as well as the nature of societies in Islamic countries more broadly. Hesli noted that the long-term goal is to create a Center for Islamic, Middle Eastern and Arabic Studies at the UI.

UI International Programs consists of a number of offices, centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the associate provost and dean for International Programs, these units serve to further internationalize the campus and community and promote global scholarship, research and teaching.

For more information or special accommodations to attend this event, contact Leslie Aktan, International Programs, at 319-335-3862 or

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026,; Program: Leslie Aktan, 319-335-3862,; Writer: Po Li Loo