Islamic Art : Mirror of the Invisible World

A few days ago, I received an email regarding a new film or documentary that is going to be shown soon on PBS, and I got the privilege of access to the preview before the debut. It is an exciting thing especially considering the film is about Islamic art and architecture, one of which that I am sure my readers would be very interested to see. Below is the news release of the film included in the said email –

SILVER SPRING, MD – June 11, 2012 – Perceptions and ideas around Muslim identity and culture vary widely and too few are aware of the significant works of art and architecture that make up a large part of Islamic civilization’s legacy. Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World, is a new documentary from award-winning Unity Productions Foundation (UPF) that brings to life this legacy and will be broadcast nationally on PBS July 6th at 9:00 p.m. EST.

Narrated by actor, Susan Sarandon, this 90-minute film takes audiences on a global journey across nine countries and over 1,400 years ofhistory to present the stories behind the masterworks of Islamic art and architecture.

Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World is the ninth film by Executive Producers Michael Wolfe and Alex Kronemer and UPF (Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet, Cities of Light: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain, Prince Among Slaves). The film was produced to nurture a greater appreciation for the exquisite works of art that Islamic culture has contributed to humanity. “I believe all viewers, Muslim and non-Muslims alike, will bepleasantly surprised with what our film uncovers,” states Alex Kronemer. “As a window into an often misunderstood culture, this film has the ability to be a real catalyst for understanding and perhaps offer a new perspective on Islam’s values, culture and lasting legacy,” continues Kronemer.

The film will air on PBS as part of the new PBS Arts Summer Festival, a multi-part weekly series that will take viewers across the country and around the world.

Viewers of Islamic Art are presented with a kaleidoscope of exquisite works of art – from the opulent Taj Mahal of Agra, India, to the written word in the form of Arabic calligraphy with master calligraphers such as MohamedZakariya. A common theme linking each of the showcased works is the way each piece of art is so different from the next – exemplifying not only the beauty, but the diversity within Islamic cultures. Each masterpiece is a contribution to the larger narrative of just how much Muslims have contributed and still contribute to society.

Michael Wolfe says, “Never before have viewers had the opportunity to explore such richness of Islamic art and history with commentary from some of the world’s most renowned experts who have the ability to explain just why these works are so important.”  “We hope watching the film will result in Muslims feeling a source of pride, aswell as celebration in their heritage,” continues Kronemer.

After its national television debut July 6th, Islamic Art will be available on DVD for $19.95 through http://www.upf.tv.

Islamic Art has already caught the attention of thought leaders who are calling the film an important contribution to documentary filmmaking about Islamic cultures.

“UPF’s Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World is a stunning achievement in documentary filmmaking. Itopens a window onto a sight of Islam so often neglected in the west. The aesthetic, beauty, and culture offer an opening for us all to start a dialogue on the values that we share and hold in common.”  – Karen Armstrong, Award-Winning author of religion

“This film will open the eyes and the imagination of American Muslims, reminding us all of our rich artistic heritage. I highly recommend that all American Muslims watch this documentary and share it with their neighbors!” – Imam Mohamed Magid, President, Islamic Society of North America

Join us on Twitter at @islamicartfilm the evening of the premiere, July 6th, for a tweet chat using the hashtag #IslamicArt.

About Unity Productions Foundation

The mission of Unity Productions Foundation (UPF) is to create peace through the media. A nonprofit organization founded in 1999, UPF produces documentary films for both television broadcast, online viewing, and theatrical release, and implements long-term educational campaigns aimed at increasing understanding between people of different faiths and cultures, especially between Muslims and other faiths. For more information, visit http://www.upf.tv.

I replied to the email immediately and soon enough I got the access to the film. Despite my unstable and slow connection, I managed to watch the whole documentary ; in fact, I watched it several times.

The 90 minute film/documentary takes us to an awe-inspiring journey  across 9 countries and a thousand and a half years of history to look at some of the most magnificent and breathtaking examples of Islamic art and Architecture. The film, as I see it, intends to introduce the views to the the beauty and majesty as well as the diversity of Islamic art, culture and traditions by showcasing the finest examples of Islamic artifacts and monuments.

The documentary is divided into several chapters, each with a different theme or aspect of Islamic art and architecture. Throughout the documentary, which is narrated by Susan Sarandon,  you can listen to commentaries by several notable experts of the field, who explains the many facets of Islamic artistry.  One can learn so many things from this film – the history of the culture and traditions of Islam, the techniques, the skills and work that was put into the artifacts and the monuments.

It also invites the viewers to see the diversity of the Islamic culture throughout the Islamic world – how different art and architecture might be for example between the lavish monuments in the Arab countries as compared to the simpler architecture of the Sub-Saharan countries. Yet, despite that it draws the comparison between the different regions of the the Islamic World it also explains how all of them collectively are exclusively Islamic.

This documentary also gave the audience different views on Islamic art as well as dispelling several misconceptions. By watching it, one can obtain a brief yet insightful view into the Islamic culture and heritage, through the beauty of its art and architecture, in turn, giving his or herself an education about the religion itself.

If you are like me, and I imagine that you are, you would not want to miss this beautiful documentary, whether you are a long time aficionado or you just began to appreciate the beauty of the Islamic art. So if you are a reader n the United States, please tune in to PBS on 6th of July at 9:00 p.m. EST. For the rest of the world, you will have to wait after the debut to be able to purchase the DVD version of the film. Either way, this documentary is again is not to be missed.

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