By Amina Nazarli
The long-awaited premiere of "Ali and Nino” film, produced by star director Chris Tike based on a novel of an Azerbaijani writer, was held solemnly in the Heydar Aliyev Center on October 5.
Azerbaijan's First Lady, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva and the Foundation's vice-president, Head of the project and Executive Producer of the film Leyla Aliyeva watched the film.
The solemn premier presentation brought together creative team of the film and representatives of the public also attended the premiere.
Ali and Nino is a tale of love by an Azerbaijani author, who wrote his world bestseller under the pen name Gurban Said. The epic love story is one of the most original works of twentieth century literature, reflecting Azerbaijan’s fight for independence and love between two young people of different religions.
Prior to the screening of the film, the event featured a video message of Adam Bakri, a starring actor of "Ali and Nino". He expressed his regret for failing to attend the presentation in Baku. He said that he enjoyed his role in the film. Addressing the event in Azerbaijani he said: "I had a very nice time in Azerbaijan, and it is my honor to meet with you."
The film which starts with the words as the 'Word War I breaks out', '50 percent of the world's oil reserves falls to Azerbaijan', 'the country is located at the crossroads of East and West', aroused great interest at the first cadres.
Muslim prince Ali and Georgian aristocrat Nino have grown up in the Russian province of Azerbaijan. Their tragic love story sees the outbreak of the First World War and the world's struggle for Baku's oil. Ultimately they must choose to fight for their country's independence or for each other.
The shootings started in February 2015, and continued until June in Baku, the historic part of the Icheri Sheher (Old City) and other parts of the capital, also in Gobustan, Khinalig and other regions.
Starring in the 104-minute movie are Adam Bakri as Ali and María Valverde as Nino. Other actors are Halit Ergenc, Mendy Petinkin, Connie Nielson, Riccardo Skamarchio, Homayon Ershadi, Fakhraddin Manafov, Assaad Bab, Numan Acar and others.
The film's producer is Chris Tike, chief director is BAFTA winner Asif Kapadia. Screenwriter of "Ali and Nino" is a British novelist, screenwriter and film director, Academy Award winner Christopher Hampton.
Following the premiere, Tike addressed the event, saying that in fact, today it was the world premiere of the “Ali and Nino” film”. He expressed his deep gratitude to Azerbaijani First Lady, Mehriban Aliyeva for her support of the production of the film.
“Personally I am for the first time watching the dubbed film into Azerbaijani. I hope the film will be a great success. It was a pleasure for us to make a film in this country, and we loved your country,” he said.
He also hailed the film's executive producer Leyla Aliyeva's love for her work, her creative ideas and support of the film making process. Chris Tike then invited Leyla Aliyeva, Christopher Hampton, Maria Valverde and Numan Acar to the stage.
The film's screenwriter Christopher Hampton described “Ali and Nino” as an unusual work of the art. “The film created an opportunity for me to get closely familiarized with the country. The people are very friendly. I had a very nice time here,” he said.
Maria Valverde, in turn, said that it is the first time in a creative career she starred Caucasian woman. “It was very interesting to work on the heroin. My character is a very strong woman,” she said.
The actress admitted that she is pleased to come to Azerbaijan anew and feels at home here.
“I can say on my own behalf and on behalf of the entire crew of the film -- we fell in love with Azerbaijan, in the nature of your beautiful country, the atmosphere and the attitude of people,” said Maria.
The actress stressed that she will be glad to receive an offer to play in any other Azerbaijani film, and will certainly consider it.
The film was first shown on the sidelines of the prestigious International Film Festival Sundance in Park City, Utah, the U.S. this January.
Foreign media hails Ali and Nino's soundtrack and cinematography. "The music is nostalgic, as well as romantic, sad and hopeful," it says.
Asian World Film Festival which will start on October 24, has chosen "Ali and Nino" as a film to be screened at the opening ceremony.
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