The Stoner Arms Dealers: How Two American Kids Became Big-Time Weapons Traders And how the Pentagon later turned on them By Guy Lawson, Rolling Stone Magazine The e-mail confirmed it: everything was finally back on schedule after weeks of maddening, inexplicable delay. A 747 cargo plane had just lifted off from an airport in Hungary and […]
This part is about the Awakening of the world under Islam. The advancements and discoveries credited to Islam as a system that ran society.
The Making of Islam: Empire of Faith
by Robert Gardner, Producer
The production of Islam: Empire of Faith was a big challenge from the beginning, simply because it covered more than a thousand years of history and culture, and a very large part of the world.
But we really wanted to push beyond the conventional form of historical documentaries, which have depended on pans and tilts of still pictures, supplemented with landscapes and interviews. We wanted to find a way to use the visual techniques usually reserved for fiction motion pictures to tell a story of great scope that took place in pre-photographic history. This meant the project would require very large scale costumed re-enactments and equipment far beyond the ordinary documentary production package of camera, zoom lens, tripod and small light-kit.
We knew that we had to find a way to present images of cultural history — both re-enacted scenes and contemporary scenes of Islamic architecture and city life — in a way that would evoke the past, but maintain a sense of authenticity. The scenes would be dream-like and impressionistic but would still give viewers a sense that what they were seeing was accurate in historical terms.
We designed a production package that included a robotic crane with an 18-foot reach (Jimmi-jib), allowing us to fly the camera through architectural spaces, and a Steadicam that would allow for smooth camera moves through buildings at ground level — even mounting it on a truck to shoot running horses at full speed. We took a wide selection of lenses from extremely wide to telephoto and we also brought a high-speed camera for true slow-motion (500 frames per second) allowing us to slow an action down that actually took one second to fully twenty seconds on-screen. All of these taken together would provide an extraordinarily production palette. But it also meant that we had to travel with more than 40 cases of equipment — and do so in seven different countries. The logistics were severe.
The actual American camera crew was very small — Director of Photography Rege Becker (who also operated the Steadicam) and First Assistant Cameraman and Jib Operator Nick Gardner, who also shot second camera when required. The rest of the crew was hired and trained in each country — Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Israel, Spain, Turkey and Iran.
It was in Iran that we used a motion picture company — with a crew of 50 — to produce the costumed re-enactments. Iran’s foremost Art Director Majid Mirfakhraei, had to create locations, costumes and props for more than a thousand years of history — from the deserts 7th century Arabia, to the palaces of the Ottoman empire. The same team of stunt riders had to be made-up and redressed to play Arabian mounted soldiers, Crusader knights, Mongol raiders, Ghazi horsemen and Ottoman cavalry. A full sized, four-story replica of the holiest shrine in the Muslim world (the Kaaba in Saudi Arabia), had to be built in the deserts of Southern Iran and the vanished world of 8th century Baghdad had to be created in the ruins of a 19th century Persian palace. More than 300 costumes were required, as well as a dozen camels and riders, dozens of sheep and goats, an entire Bedouin encampment and the streets of Jerusalem in the 11th century — complete with market stalls and citizens.
This extraordinary production design, set in epic landscapes, gives the film a startling sense of scope and provides a remarkable window through which to examine the past. The film took 18 months to edit, and is supported by an original score by Leonard Lionnet.
Produced and Directed by
Stefano H. Kotsonis
Director of Photography
Production Manager, Associate Producer
Historical Re-enactments, Iran
Producer, Hedayat Films
Art Director, Production Designer
Majid Mir Fakhrai
First Assistant Director and Translator
Sheila Blair, Jonathan Bloom, Ahmet Karamustafa, James W. Morris, Michael Sells,
For Devillier Donegan Enterprises
A Gardner Films production in association with PBS and Devillier Donegan Enterprises
Islam: Empire of Faith was presented as part of the Empires ® series. To learn more about other programs in the series, visit the Empires ® series homepage.
LA TIMES: “Miral: With “Immortals” and “Rise of the Apes,” Pinto will surely get her wish to go global”
“If we cannot find ways of peace and understanding, if the only way of establishing the Jewish National Home is upon the bayonets of some Empire, our whole enterprise is not worthwhile, and it is better that the Eternal People that has outlived many a mighty empire should possess its soul in patience… It is one of the great civilizing tasks before the Jewish people to enter the promised land, not in the Joshua way, but bringing peace and culture, hard work and sacrifice and love, and a determination to do nothing that cannot be justified before the conscience of the world.” — Judah Magnes
Running time: 1 hour 54 minutes
Rated PG-13 by the MPAA
Starring: Hiam Abbass, Freida Pinto, Yasmine Al Massri, Ruba Blal, Alexander Siddig, Omar Metwally, Stella Schnabel, Willem Dafoe and Vanessa Redgrave
From Julian Schnabel, director of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Before Night Falls and Basquiat, comes Miral, the visceral, first-person diary of a young girl growing up in East Jerusalem as she confronts the effects of occupation and war in every corner of her life. Schnabel pieces together momentary fragments of Miral’s world–how she was formed, who influenced her, all that she experiences in her tumultuous early years–to create a raw, moving, poetic portrait of a woman whose small, personal story is inextricably woven into the bigger history unfolding all around her.
Miral’s story, which shifts sinuously through layers of time and emotions, begins with the woman who will become her teacher. Hind Husseini (HIAM ABBASS, The Visitor, Amreeka), who in 1948 turned her father’s home into the Dar Al-Tifel Institute, an orphanage and school for Palestinian children. What would you do if you found 55 orphans wandering the streets in the middle of a war-torn city? For Hind, the answer was to protect them, draw a line around them and make a safe haven where they could not be harmed, and where they could learn in safety and begin to imagine a more peaceful world.
In 1978, years after Hind starts the school, a 5 year-old girl arrives at the Institute in the wake of her mother’s tragic death. This is Miral (FREIDA PINTO, Slumdog Millionaire), and this is her story. She will grow up sheltered inside the protective walls of Dar-Al-Tifl, but then at the age of 16, on the cusp of the Intifada, Miral is assigned to teach at a refugee camp where she is awakened to the anger and struggles that seem to be her legacy. When she falls for a fervent political activist, Hani (OMAR METWALLY, Munich, Rendition), Miral is drawn into a personal dilemma: to choose a path of violence or to follow Mama Hind’s hard-fought belief that education is the only way to pursue lasting peace.
Jerome Seydoux presents Miral, a film by Julian Schnabel, starring Hiam Abbass, Freida Pinto, Yasmine Al Massri, Ruba Blal, Alexander Siddig, Omar Metwally, Stella Schnabel, Willem Dafoe and Vanessa Redgrave. The screenplay is by Rula Jebreal, based on her semi-autobiographical book of the same name. The producer is Jon Kilik. Francois Xavier Decraene is the executive producer. This film is a French-Israeli-Italian-Indian Co-Production of Pathe, ER Productions. Eagle Pictures and India Take One Productions, with the participation of Canal + and Cinecinema.
Julian Schnabal’s sincere and thought-provoking film Miral is a film rich in compassion and drama… By By Mark Adams, chief film critic for Screen International.