Today, we bring you clips from a fascinating and beautiful documentary being produced in Chicago by On Look Films. Like Media Burn, it is motivated by an effort to preserve and archive contemporary cultural reality that is in danger of being extinct.
Voices and Faces of the Adhan: Cairo is an engaged, objective cinéma vérité documentary about the complex relationship between modernity and tradition in Cairo. The story develops as the ancient oral tradition of the adhan, the Muslim call to prayer, is standardized by replacing thousands of voices with one. Following the lives of five characters, the film explores how sound shapes space and collective identity, as well as the role of the adhan in both the individual and collective lives of Cairenes.
As one muezzin begins the call, another joins seconds later from a neighboring mosque, and then another, until the echoing of thousands of diverse voices envelops the 83 square-mile city of Cairo, hushing and transforming the soundscape five times each day. But this tradition is being lost as the Adhan Unification Project is implemented, which disallows recitation of the adhan from individual mosques, instead transmitting one muezzin’s voice from a radio station to the 4,000 official mosques in Cairo through wireless receivers.
Approximately 100 mosques have the wireless receivers installed since the project began in August 2010. With the Egyptian revolution, much has changed, including the Adhan Unification Project, which is on hold for the time being. On Look Films is committed to following this story through all of the directions it takes. The 1,400 year-old oral tradition of the adhan has never been documented or recorded for historical study and is about to be erased through modern technology. The project is comprised of a documentary film, audio archive, multi-media installation and interactive online digital library.
It is the mission of On Look Films to reach across cultural divides, document cultural history and contribute to diverse intercultural dialogue towards creating a more peaceful world. On Look Films was formed by Writer, Producer Anna Kipervaser and Co-Producer, Multimedia Art Director Rodion Galperin to foster projects that promote cultural understanding through stories that bridge the gap across cultural divides. Combined, the team has won over 25 awards for film, visual art and sound projects, and participated in over 100 international film festivals. The On Look Films team is comprised of individuals from Egypt, Brazil, Israel, Ukraine, Belarus and the United States. Voices and Faces of the Adhan: Cairo is an innovative not-for-profit transmedia documentary project directed by Miguel Silviera and fiscally sponsored by the Hartley Film Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit.
For more on the project and the creators: