A series of screenings presented in collaboration with Louverture Films that seeks to generate discussions about cinema as a strategy of complexity and plurality and as a resistance to constructed realities


Itar El-Layl / The Narrow Frame of Midnight

A film directed by Tala Hadid about the intersecting destinies of three people on a journey from Morocco to Istanbul, the plains of Kurdistan, and beyond

Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Memory
  • Public culture
  • Social Justice

Opens to public





4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

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Slought and the SP2 Social Justice and Arts Integration Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania are pleased to announce a special screening of Itar El-Layl / The Narrow Frame of Midnight (2014) on Friday, December 14, 2018 from 6-9pm at Slought. It will be followed by a conversation with director Tala Hadid. This event is free and open to the public, however registration is requested. Please plan to arrive early as registering does not guarantee you a seat. Seating is first come, first served.

The Narrow Frame of Midnight charts the journeys of several characters as they struggle to find their place in the world. A young orphan, Aïcha, is found alone in the forests of central Morocco. She has a past that reveals a courageous attempt at self-determination. Taken and sold from her home in the Atlas Mountains, Aïcha finds herself at the mercy of Abbas, a petty criminal, and his girlfriend, Nadia. They cross paths with Zacaria, a Moroccan/Iraqi writer, who has left everything behind- including a troubled relationship with Judith, a teacher - to follow in the path of and search for his missing brother. The group embarks on a journey that will lead them from Morocco, to Istanbul, across the plains of Kurdistan, and beyond.

The paths of these characters intersect at different points in the film and though their destinies eventually diverge, they are connected in profound ways. The arc of each respective journey reflects and informs the circuit of the other journeys. Three of the characters (Aïcha, Zacaria and Judith) are people who are searching; they are explorers who at different points decide to take the leap and embark on a voyage whose end is unknown. The Greeks believed, as writer Jeanette Winterson reminds us, that the hidden life demands invisible ink. And so in a way, the characters with whom we travel in The Narrow Frame of Midnight are people who have decided to discern the hidden story within themselves and to continue to write it at any cost.

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Of Moroccan and Iraqi heritage, Tala Hadid made her first feature documentary film, Sacred Poet, on Pier Paolo Pasolini. Her films have screened at film festivals around the world, including Berlin and Venice and shown, among other venues, at the MoMA and Lincoln Center in NYC, The Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis, La Cinémathèque Française in Paris, the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington D.C, the Los Angeles County Museum and the Photographer's Gallery in London. Her films have received numerous awards, including a short film Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In 2013, the Fine Art photography publisher Stern published a volume of a selection of Hadid's photographs from her project Heterotopia as part of its Stern Fotografie Portfolio series of emerging photographers.

In 2014, Hadid completed work on Itarr el Layl. The award-winning film premiered at the Toronto film Festival and went on to screen at numerous film festivals and venues around the world, including the Lincoln Center in New York, the Rome Film Festival, and the London Film Festival.

In 2017, Hadid's project, House in the Fields, was an official selection at the Berlin Film Festival where it was nominated for the Glashütte Original Documentary Award. The film was also the recipient, among other prizes, of the Commune di Milano prize for best feature film at the 2017 FCAAL Milano Film Festival, the Prize for Best Documentary film at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, the Fiction/Non Fiction award at Millennium Docs against Gravity in Warsaw, the 2M Grand Prize at FIDADOC 2017, the 2017 John Marshall Award in the US, the Special Jury Prize at the 2018 National Film Festival in Tangiers, and the Grand Prize of the city at the 2018 International Mediterranean Film Festival of Tetouan. Hadid's work is also part of the Ruben Bentsov Moving Image Collection at the Walker Museum in the US.

Registration Requested

This event is presented in collaboration with Louverture Films and produced by Slought. It is presented in partnership with the School of Social Policy & Practice and Cinema & Media Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania.