29 JANUARY 2020

ENFF On Tour in Utrecht brings two extraordinary docu-fiction films made by female directors: ARAF (Berlinale) by Turkish cineast Didem Pekun, shot in Bosnia and Herzegovina and ONCE UPON A TIME IN SHANGHAI (IDFA) by Azerbaijani filmmaker Leyli Gafarova made during the shooting of the fiction feature film BRA by Veit Heilmer, with the special appearance of the Serbian actor Miki Manojlovic.
The screening of this two hybrid films in Louis Hartlooper Complex Utrecht will be accompanied by film analyses by professor Nenad Fiser who will have a conversation with the audience after the screening. ARAF is a diary of a ghostly character, Nayia, who travels between Srebrenica, Sarajevo and Mostar. ONCE UPON A TIME IN SHANGHAI is hilarious and thought-provoking hybrid documentary that explores complexity of a film shooting in a colourful area in Baku – Azerbaijan. At the end, all visitors are invited to a delicious Balkan Cocktail.

Wednesday 29 January
19:00 hours
Louis Hartlooper Complex
Tolsteegbrug 1
3511 ZN Utrecht

ARAF by Didem Pekun

A poetic and haunting elegy of displacement shot in Bosnia by the Turkish director and film scholar. The film premiered at Berlinale and won the Human Rights Award at Sarajevo Film Festival.


A’raf – a Turkish word for limbo or purgatory – symbolises the borderland between heaven and hell for those who are, from incapacity, neither morally bad nor good, according to Qur’an. In this very special essayistic road movie, we follow a diary of Nayia, a ghostly character who travels between Srebrenica, Sarajevo and Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She has been in exile since the war and returns for the memorial of the Srebrenica genocide. Her diary notes merge with the myth of Daedalus and Icarus – Icarus being the name given to the winner of a bridge-diving competition in her home country. This years-old tradition in Mostar appears as a central motif of the film. The carefully chosen visual style with black and white photography remarkably emphasises the emotional state and grief of people at the Srebrenica Memorial.


Country: Greece, Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Year: 2018
Length: 45 min
Director: Didem Pekun
Screenwriter: Didem Pekun
Director of Photography: Petros Nousias
Sound: Theofilos Botonakis; Fatih Ragbet, Eli Haligua
Editing: Didem Pekun
Cast: Dino Bajrić (Icarus)
Production: Maria Thalia Carras, Olga Hatzidaki – Locus Athens; Didem Pekun


I was in a trance when I was making this film, or perhaps in a nightmare I was unable to snap out of. Everything fell into place in that manner, in the sense of how the team came together, how the production materialized out of a series of what almost looked like impossibilities…The film is also an elegy in slow motion; an elegy of an event that the world fast-forwarded. I wanted to rewind and replay and really look to see through the commemoration, because commemoration is an act of protest against this repulsive phenomenon of genocide and the desire to erase a people from history.

once upon a time in shanghai by leyli gafarova

The renowned German director Veit Helmer is shooting a fiction film in a poor area of the capital Baku in Azerbaijan. The area is called Shanghai and its inhabitants are part of the film. The director’s assistant, Lejli Gafarova, makes a documentary parallel to shooting of the fiction and the famous actor, Miki Manojlovic, arrives too. A hilarious and thought-provoking documentary.


Intercepting the footage of the German film crew trying to film around the railroad going through Shanghai with scenes of the slum’s daily life, the director takes us on a journey through the last days of a slum in Azerbaijan’s capital. Men talk with a sense of nostalgia and pride over the petty crimes they’ve committed as youngsters from Shanghai. Elders instruct children to express their love for Shanghai, while children talk about the fear they feel when a train interrupts their play at the railroads and friends end up in the hospital.


Country: Azerbaijan/Germany
Year: 2018
Length: 35 min
Director: Leyli Gafarova
Director of Photography: Leyli Gafarova
Editing: Leyli Gafarova
Sound: Michiel De Malsche, Leyli Gafarova
Music: Emin Sabitoglu
Producer: Veit Helmer


Leyli Gafarova was born in Azerbaijan and studied film at the Royal Institute for Theatre Cinema and Sound in Brussels. She finds inspiration in conflicts of everyday life and human interactions. She made five short fiction films before moving to documentaries. Her films include ‘Everything is beautiful about life’ and ‘A Humble room ADO’ 2017.

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