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George Eastman Museum to host free screening of Muhammad: The Messenger of God on Sunday, March 26

Controversial Iranian film to be introduced by cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, with concluding commentary by Dr. Muhammad Shafiq of Nazareth College

Rochester, N.Y., March 7, 2017—As part of its celebration of the work of cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, the George Eastman Museum will present the East Coast premiere of Muhammad: The Messenger of God (Majid Majidi, Iran 2015) on Sunday, March 26 at 2 p.m. The film will be introduced by Vittorio Storaro, who will receive the George Eastman Award in recognition of his contribution to the art of film on the evening of Saturday, March 25. At the end of the screening, Dr. Muhammad Shafiq, executive director of the Brian and Jean Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue and professor of religious studies at Nazareth College, will provide context and commentary on the film, which has been the source of international controversy.

Muhammad: The Messenger of God had a very limited release in Los Angeles in 2015, and there are no plans for future distribution,” said Dr. Bruce Barnes, Ron and Donna Fielding Director, George Eastman Museum. “The Dryden Theatre is able to screen this motion picture only because Mr. Storaro is carrying his personal DCP [high-resolution digital copy] from Rome to Rochester. By making the screening free, we hope to encourage many people to take advantage of this possibly unique opportunity to see the film.”

The 171-minute epic by renowned Iranian director Majid Majidi focuses on the Prophet Muhammad from birth to age 13. After five years in production, Muhammad: The Messenger of God became the most expensive film ever made in Iran, with a budget of more than $40 million. The film had its world premiere as the opening picture at the 39th Montreal World Film Festival on August 27, 2015. It was screened at more than 140 theaters in Iran and had a limited release in Lebanon, Poland, and Iraq. Muhammad: The Messenger of God had extremely limited distribution in the United States in December 2015, screening for one week in Los Angeles. There are no plans for further distribution in the United States.

The film became the subject of controversy within several Sunni Muslim nations and organizations, including Egypt’s Al-Azhar University and the Raza Academy in India. The Saudi Arabian government banned the film, with the condemnation that it depicted the prophet in an “untrue light” and undermined the important role he plays in Islam.

“As a leader in presenting and preserving international cinema and as a steadfast advocate of freedom of expression,” added Barnes, “the Eastman Museum is proud to present this controversial epic by an important Iranian director. Our institution does not take any position with respect to the details of its depiction of Muhammad from birth to age 13.”

Event Details

Screening of Muhammad: The Messenger of God, with introduction by Vittorio Storaro and remarks by Dr. Muhammad Shafiq
Sunday, March 26 at 2 p.m. (Doors open at 1:15 p.m.)
Dryden Theatre, 900 East Avenue, Rochester, NY
Free Admission (no reserved seats; first come, first served)

The East Coast premiere and rare screening of the epic production filmed by Vittorio Storaro, with an introduction by Storaro himself. Directed by internationally awarded and respected Iranian veteran Majid Majidi, this extravagant historical spectacle chronicles the first thirteen years in the life of the Prophet Muhammad. The screening will be followed by remarks by Dr. Muhammad Shafiq.

Related Special Events

Screening of Apocalypse Now Redux, with introduction by Vittorio Storaro
Friday, March 24 at 7 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30 p.m.)
Dryden Theatre, 900 East Avenue, Rochester, NY
$25, general admission—tickets available at eastman.org/storaro

Cinematographer Vittorio Storaro will provide a special introduction to this screening of Apocalypse Now Redux, Francis Ford Coppola’s epic re-edited to include nearly fifty minutes of footage not seen on the film’s initial release. In this retelling of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper, Laurence Fishburne, Harrison Ford, and Robert Duvall costar in one of cinema’s definitive statements on the madness of war, elevated to its status as a classic also thanks to Storaro’s frighteningly beautiful cinematography.

George Eastman Award Ceremony and Film Screening of Dick Tracy
Saturday, March 25 at 8 p.m.
(Doors open at 7 p.m.)
Dryden Theatre, 900 East Avenue, Rochester, NY
$45(preferred seating), $35 (reserve seating)—tickets available at eastman.org/storaro

The George Eastman Museum will present cinematographer Vittorio Storaro with its highest honor in motion pictures. The evening will include an intimate conversation with Storaro and a screening of a rare 35mm print of Dick Tracy (Warren Beatty, US 1990, 105 min.). Storaro’s cinematography in Beatty’s big-screen visualization of the perennial tough, indefatigable crime-fighter captures every nuance of the dense set and giddy costume designs. The massive cast boasts some fabulous performances from Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Paul Sorvino, and Mandy Patinkin.

About Vittorio Storaro
Born in Rome in 1940, Storaro was educated in cinematography at the Italian Film Institute (Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia), where he graduated in 1960. He began his career as a cinematographer on Giovinezza Giovinezza (Italy, 1968), directed by Franco Rossi. Since then, he has worked on more than seventy projects, winning more than forty awards, including three Academy Awards for Best Cinematography (Apocalypse Now, Reds, The Last Emperor). Storaro is best known for his repeated work with three great directors: Bernardo Bertolucci (The Conformist, Last Tango in Paris, 1900, The Last Emperor, The Sheltering Sky, Little Buddha), Francis Ford Coppola (Apocalypse Now, One From the Heart, Tucker: The Man and His Dream), and Warren Beatty (Reds, Dick Tracy, Bulworth). He was recently the cinematographer for Woody Allen’s Café Society and is currently working on post-production for another Allen feature.

About Muhammad Shafiq, PhD
Dr. Muhammad Shafiq is the executive director of the Brian and Jean Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue and professor of Islamic and religious studies at Nazareth College. He also holds the IIIT Chair in Interfaith Studies at Nazareth College. He was the imam of the Islamic Center of Rochester, Inc. until 2007. Dr. Shafiq holds a PhD from Temple University, and an MA and BA from the University of Peshawar. He has written more than forty articles and several books, including Interfaith Dialogue: A Guide for Muslims. He has led intra-faith and interfaith leadership training workshops in Chad, Niger, Indonesia, Belgium, and other parts of the world. His work promoting interfaith dialogue was recognized at Doha International Interfaith Conference in 2013.