By Tim Horsburgh
Doc Depicts Last Call for Ancient Prayers
Multimedia project started this week in Egypt
Anna Kipervaser’s On Look Films embarked on the first of multiple trips to Egypt on Aug. 16, attempting to preserve a thousand-year-old Islamic ritual through film, sound recording and an art installtion.
Voices and Faces of the Adhan: Cairo aims to capture the diverse oral tradition of live calls to prayer before they are replaced by a digital recording in 2010.
Writer/executive producer Kipervaser’s team of collaborators will first make a feature-length documentary interviewing the professional Muezzins, the mosque official who calls Muslims to prayer, whose livelihoods and art are threatened by incoming government legislation.
They will then create an immense sound archive of the individual calls before they cease to exist.
The narrative structure of the film will take place over a single day, from the first prayer at sunrise to the last in the evening, Kipervaser states.
“During the course of the day we’ll show how calls coming from thousands of mosques affect life in the city, and how this digitization is in effect, the end of the Adhan tradition.”
Columbia College film professor and director Miguel Silveira and field producer Jeremy Johnson will accompany Kipervaser on August’s 10-day research and development trip. The 10-man main crew begins a 45-day location shoot in late September.
Other crew members include art director Rodion Ron Galperin, cinematographers Yoni Goldstein and Meredith Zielke, editor Dustin Majewski, principal Interviewer Sandra Kofler, and sound team Ryan ‘Catfish’ Chindlund and Ehsan Ghoreishi. Shooting will be on Panasonic AG-HPX300 cameras.
A team of 40 archivists will then work for 100 days to record all the Muezzins reciting the prayers. Kipervaser estimates a further 6 months of editing after that point, and hopes to secure festival entry and distribution in 2011.
The trips mark the culmination of over two years of research by multimedia artist Kipervaser, who was inspired to make this her first film project after visiting Cairo in 2007.
The project received a seed grant from the Hartley Film Foundation, which is also acting as a fiscal-sponsor. The proposed total budget for the sound archive and the documentary is $620,000.
“Securing the rest of our funding is really key. We’re asking for all the help we can get from people around the world,” Kipervaser says.
“It is really urgent. We have a time limit and have to act before the Egyptian government finalizes the plan to digitize the recordings.”