Ali and Nino - a tale of epic love in 20th century's Baku, a melting pot of different cultures

Baku, March 10, AZERTAC

Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in 2016, Ali and Nino is an Azerbaijani film on the forbidden love between a Muslim Azerbaijani boy and a blue-blooded Georgian girl.

To date, it remains the most successful Azerbaijani film of the last three decades, but its story dates back much further.

Oscar-winning Indo-British filmmaker Asif Kapadia’s film ‘Ali and Nino’ is a tale of epic love.

Ali and Nino are upper-class teenagers living in Baku, the oil-rich capital of Azerbaijan, which at the beginning of the 20th century was a melting pot of different cultures.

Despite differences in cultures, they have loved each other since childhood. He is an Azerbaijani Muslim, and she is a Georgian Christian-but despite their cultural differences, they love each other and get married despite the disapproval of their parents. Then the Great War breaks out, and things take a turn for the worse.

The shooting took place in Baku, including the streets of the historic Icharishahar (Old City) and in different places of the capital, as well as in Gobustan and Khinalig.

The European premiere of the film "Ali and Nino” was held in Brussels in March 2017.

Executive producer of the film is Vice-President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Leyla Aliyeva.

The film's producer is Chris Tike, chief director is BAFTA winner Asif Kapadia. Screenwriter of "Ali and Nino" is a British novelist, screenwriter and film director Christopher Hampton.

Starring in the film are the actors Adam Bakri, María Valverde, Mendy Petinkin, Connie Nielson, Riccardo Skamarchio, Homayon Ershadi, Fakhraddin Manafov, Assaad Bab, Numan Acar, Halit Ergenç and others.

The film was based on a 1937 book of the same title, written under the name Kurban Said. Even today, much of its publication is surrounded by mystery.

The first edition of the Ali and Nino book was written in German and released in Vienna, but the true identity of the person behind the pseudonym Kurban Said has been the subject of dispute.

Currently, the most widely-accepted theory is that Kurban Said was in fact Lev Nussimbaum, a Kyiv-born Jewish writer who grew up in Baku.

The novel only gained widespread recognition in Azerbaijan in the 1970s, but was quickly taken to the nation’s heart.

Beyond Ali and Nino’s love story, the story is a quest for truth and reconciliation in a world of contradictory beliefs and practices: between Islam and Christianity, East and West, tradition and modernity, and a strata of social classes.

As a novel, Ali and Nino is a must-read to understand the layers of Azerbaijani identity through the centuries, and as a film, it plays an interesting role in understanding of national identities in the region and their mutual relations.


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