“Colors of an Ancient Beirut” narrates the colorful history of the ancient Beirut stadium, which served as the venue for the first professional sporting event ever organized in the city. “The Race” chronicles the origins of modern sporting events, starting with a feat of Olympic bronze medalist Maradine Matar in 1960. The story takes you back through the colorful stages of Lebanese sports, from its establishment to the present where big names such as the International Cricket Stadium, the Beirut National Stadium, and the Nasibi Sports Club occupy prominent spaces in the city’s sporting landscape. “Colors of an Ancient Beirut” alternates contemporary clips of Beirut’s old souk-style buildings with newly animated reflections of the UFA building – highlighted by an occasional laser light reflecting off the stadium’s translucent windows – that reflect upon the colorful history of the city. The film includes a number of historical landmarks, including the Al Aqsa Mosque and the grand old Ras Mohammed International Airport.
“The House Museum” (KHAS) is a rare cinematic depiction of life in the district of Beirut. The film traces the beginnings of a family, going through its transformations from humble housewives and craftsmen to members of the elite Nasibi clan who settled down and became masters of the city’s architectural secrets. A number of key players from both sides of the Nasibi family line up as well, and they are depicted in the film like wise old fathers, mentors, and advisers to the protagonist. The film succeeds, however, by taking full advantage of its chosen subject matter: architecture and art. The Nasibis are portrayed as a wise and engaging lot, always eager to learn about new developments in their field.
“The Colour of Egypt” (KHAS), which came out in 2021, is yet another film with an interesting pedigree. Like the other two films, it too centers on the colorful history of the region. But in addition to Ras Mohammed and his colorful sidekick, Fadi Baba, the film introduces a character from Russia, Vasiliya Vishnevsky, who is a scholar specializing in ancient architecture. The two Russia-Lithuanian actors also share a passionate connection, which reaches its climax at the end of the film
In 2021, UMF-TV produced and aired a documentary about the life of Vasiliya Vishnevsky and his role as a Russian scholar in the world of ufa. Though highly informative, the documentary bore a slight twist when one of the scholars featured in the film tried to convert a few of the subjects he had studied into Russian. The film was ultimately deleted from Turkish television stations. Perhaps the association between ufa and bashkortostan had faded; or perhaps, just like Vasiliya Vishnevsky himself, people decided that they were simply better known as Rus, whether they wanted to admit it or not.
At present, there are still some vestiges of vestigial traces of ufa-baih in Turkey. The flag of the Republic of Bashkortostan is close to the coat-of-arms of the predominantly Russian city of St. Petersburg. And though there have been major outbreaks of Islamophobia, or rather anti-Moscow sentiments in some parts of the country (notably the cathedral towns in the north and south of Moscow), in all likelihood the word has simply fallen out of use. Many people probably still associate the word ‘Bashkortostan’ with the coat-of-arms of the capital, St. Petersburg, and nothing else. Whether this is because of the fact that there is no longer anything left of the Soviet Union, or merely because many people do not know the meaning of the word, the truth is that the once glorious Ufa is long gone.
Today, a visit to any city in the world will reveal the various forms of cultural expression, religious beliefs and even political ideology that co-existed side by side with the communal way of life. The truth is that the bond between the peoples of the ancient realms was far stronger than the iron curtain that separated them for centuries. Religious tolerance, the respect for individual beliefs, and freedom of press are some of the more secular human rights that are alive and well in Turkey today. As a former member of the Soviet Union, I can say that, without a doubt, Turkey has had much to gain from its association with ufa. However, this is perhaps best seen on the positive side – without a doubt, Russia, as well as Iran, will continue to spread their cancerous ideologies, while Turkey will be safe from their poisonous rays.