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"Journey to Mount Tomor" : presented to FestFilm Festival Prishtina, in May 2014

a film by Iljir Selimoski
Friday 8 August 2014 by en, E. Noygues

FestFilm Festival in Prishtina

Iljir Selimoski is very moved to have achieved his goal and go on registering his film to international documentary festivals.

And it was an unforgettable moment, almost everybody raised a hand to ask a question! It was the opportunity for a very rich discussion both in Albanian and in English.

He wanted to pay tribute to my grandfather, indeed, but he mostly wanted to open a window on this lesser known corner of Europe, except to talk about war, the mafia, clandestinity, etc.

The story

Iljir, the French son of an immigrant from Macedonia, goes on the quest for the story of the grandfather he never knew. This ancester was a member of the Sufi order of the Bektâshî. Guided by his story, Iljir will travel through Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania. With him, we will reach the Mount Tomor, sacred place where the Bektashi gathers since the 13th century to realize a strange syncretism between Islam and Shamanism, open to the world.

The director

Student of the Cours Florent in Paris and the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts, Iljir Selimoski is an actor and a director.

On the stage, he plays Bernard-Marie Koltès, Oscar Wilde, Molière or Racine, confronting all periods and styles. On the silver screen, he often plays the part of the rugged characters with a big heart.

Close to his Eastern European roots, he is often part of the adventures with the merry group of Tony Gatlif.

He decides to write and direct Journey to Mount Tomor to explore these roots with more depth and tell a world that needs it the story of a humanistic and tolerant practice of Islam.

Director’s Note : the departure point...

The departure point of this movie is indeed myself, a son of immigrants from Macedonia born at the end of Orly Airport tracks. Inheriting from both these worlds, I decided to question my origins.

With this movie, I also decided to give an intimate homage to my grandfather and to my father, for the cultural heritage I have received. I also see it as a proof that a tolerant philosophy can be effectively transmitted.

In addition to my personal itinerary, there is also the more universal will to bring a new light on certain thematics that are very important to me.

In the first place, there is the region where this journey takes place. The Balkans. This part of Europe that often is heard for its painful news and whose history is paved with violent conflict. This film brings a new way to consider this area, often little known or understood.

Then, there is the will to show Islam with a different angle: this of the Bektashi order, an order my grandfather belonged to. This Islam, practiced in the heart of Europe, preaches tolerance and peace, practices the cult of nature while still being passionate about modern civilization, and that does not frown when one drinks wine or considers men and women as equals.

Through the different themes of the film and the quest that the audience is invited to follow, there is the ambition not to draw a caricature of the complexity of cultures and religions and to understand the past better in order to build peaceful tomorrows.

A few words about the Bektashi order

Bektashism is a religious order that originated in the Sufi movements of Islam. In the 13th Century, Haji Bektashi Veli, a saint and an Alevi mystical philosopher, is the founder of the eponymous order of the Bektashi that plays a crucial role in the conversion to Islam of Anatolia and the Balkans.

According to UNESCO, the Bektashi Alevi branch of Islam, with the addition of Haji Bektashi Veli’s teachings, shows a precocious philosophical modernity. With the words of the 13th century, Haji Bektash Veli propagates ideas that eight centuries later will seem strikingly similar to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). Art as a companion...

The son of a factory worker, I have found the road of the arts as a possible future. Rapidly, the love of what changes reality into dreams has become a powerful engine in my life. Theater, but not only, has become my occupation. I have become an artist. It is the gaze of a minstrel upon a certain reality that this movies suggests, and not a scientific proposition. A gaze that questions a complex theme surrounded by passionate debates. Those debates have impregnated the very structure of the narrative.

My movie has the peculiar intent of mixing the arts. A painter, a musician and a playwright have been brought in to allow for a diversity of visions, in order to open the reflexion with the widest angle possible. I wanted to depict in some way the interior voyage by rendering it through music, painting and text.

The paintings that punctuate the journey

Omer Kaleshi is an artist born in the village next my family’s in Macedonia. Exiled in Paris 50 years ago, he dedicated his life to paint exclusively shepherds and dervishes. I have been taken with the closeness of the world I wanted to depict and Mr Kaleshi’s works. The use of his paintings also addresses my wish to get closer to the older generations that I have never known by giving them of form of reality. The vivid colors and the simple lines have also corresponded artistically to the formal and artistic choices of mine in the film.

Music as a link

Tarik Chaouach, a French-Algerian composer, who comes from a family of shepherds, created a music that was conceived like a patchwork, borrowing from different countries and cultures with the world of Sufism as a general background. It creates a world originated from nomadism and creates a common thread bringing the elements of the film together.

A voice over in duet

A playwright (Euryale Collet-Barquero) was with me all along the process, as if to give some room naturally in the film to this art that has been with me for so long. The ghost of the grandfather takes life in words to give the journey a structure and open a dialog between the generational quests. This incarnation makes him both a witness and an acting force in the move. I, too, have decided to have a voice in the film to clarify my track. Those words bring the distance that is I think needed and make poetry closer to reality.



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