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Preview: Salam Film Series

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In the wake of tragedy, a natural response is to turn to the arts to find a sense of solace and strength. Art can help us work through our pain, reflecting the world as it is, or presenting a brighter picture of how we wish it to be. The empathic nature of film in particular is uniquely suited to cultivate a sense of understanding in audiences, and in some way help us make sense of the senseless.

Named for the Arabic word for "peace," the series will screen three films by renowned Middle Eastern filmmakers Youssef Chahine, Jafar Panahi, and Nuri Bilge Ceylan, in solidarity with Muslim people all over the world. Admission to all screenings is free.

Set in the Arab-ruled Spanish province of Andalusia during the 12th century, Youssef Chahine's 1997 film "Destiny" combines elements of melodrama and musical to tell the true story of philosopher Averroes (played by actor Nour El-Sherif). A true example of epic filmmaking from one of Egypt's greatest directors. (Sunday, April 21, 6 p.m.)

"The White Balloon" is a sweet fable about Razieh, a 7-year-old girl on a mission to buy a goldfish with money given to her by her mother. But along the way she encounters several people, each out to either help or hinder her journey. Made by renowned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi prior to being slapped with a government-mandated 20-year ban on filmmaking (not that he's let that stop him from making movies) this is appropriately a tale about holding onto hope in world that doesn't always reward it. (Sunday, June 16, 6 p.m.)

An existentialist murder mystery from Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan, the darkly funny "Once Upon a Time in Anatolia" follows the meandering investigation being conducted by policemen, prosecutors, and various officials. The men are searching for a corpse, supposedly the victim of a brutal murder. Their suspect can't remember where he buried the body because he claims he was drunk at the time. The long, strange journey that ensues reveals Ceylan's fascination with the more impenetrable depths of human nature. (Sunday, June 23, 6 p.m.)