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Alias Kurban Saïd 2004

  • 3.3
The hunt for the identity of a pseudonymous author leads extraordinary filmmaker Jos de Putter from Azerbaijan to New York to Italy in this "magnificent historical whodunit" (according to Variety), a travelogue through old films, crumbling letters and a minefield of religious and national identities. The 1937 novel "Ali and Nino" caused an immediate sensation on publication, due to its romantic Caucasus setting, Russian Revolution backdrop and steamy love affair between a Christian man and Muslim woman. Afterwards slipping into obscurity, it was recently rediscovered to much acclaim. The author, "Kurban Saïd," is a pseudonym; the mystery of who he (or she) really was is as enthralling as any novel, revealing a chain of seven or more possible Kurban Saïds, either Muslim or Jewish, German or Turkish, famous or not, and moving from the tea-pouring patios of Baku, Azerbaijan, to the scenic cliff-clinging cemeteries of Positano, Italy. As demonstrated by its feisty interviewees, ALIAS KURBAN SAÏD proves that a story (and, by extension, history) is still worth fighting for. - Jason Sanders
ALIAS KURBAN SAID attempts to unravel the identity of Kurban Saïd, a pseudonym for the author of a popular novel from the late-1930s. A recent sensational re-discovery with cult status, Saïd's "Ali and Nino" chronicles an affair between a woman and a man of different religious beliefs and their doomed relationship. But who, exactly, is Kurban Saïd? Dutch filmmaker Jos de Putter traveled the world interviewing various interested parties, each with their own definitive belief in the story-behind-the-story. The pursuit is more important than the goal when the "truth" is as heavily contested as it is dubious.

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