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Cinema and Video

The Ball and the Polo Stick, or the Book of Ecstasy by Furqat Palvan-Zade

syg.ma team29/11/23 08:431.3K🔥

Starting on November 29th and for the next two weeks, the film-essay The Ball and the Polo Stick, or the Book of Ecstasy by researcher, filmmaker, and syg.ma co-founder Furqat Palvan-Zade is available on our Patreon.

You can access the film after signing up for a $5 monthly donation. This subscription not only supports our platform but also provides access to online screenings of experimental and documentary films created by a community of friends and colleagues, which we intend to organize in the future. 


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Fascination with the fifteenth-century Persian manuscript The Ball and the Polo Stick, or the Book of Ecstasy takes filmmaker and researcher Furqat Palvan-Zade on a journey across transient geographies of Central Eurasia, challenging the notion of history as something static and well-defined.

While commonly associated with the European upper classes, polo originated in the nomadic spaces of Central Eurasia. The film considers this sport a metaphor for the colonial history of the last few centuries.

By delving into the poetic text of the Book of Ecstasy, Palvan-Zade aims not only to make a decolonial gesture of reclaiming polo’s origins but also to narrate the stories of the violent geopolitical games played by Western superpowers in Central Eurasia.

The kaleidoscope of stories unfolding around the manuscript features

Sufi metaphors, imperial Russian generals, a thief-turned-oligarch, and the Karabakh horse gifted by Nikita Khruschv to Queen Elizabeth II

Unpacking these narratives, Palvan-Zade tries to provide a glimpse of the particularities and commonalities that constitute the fascinating — and sometimes absurd — mosaic of today’s world.

Screenshots from the film. Courtesy of the artist.
Screenshots from the film. Courtesy of the artist.
Screenshots from the film. Courtesy of the artist.
Screenshots from the film. Courtesy of the artist.
Screenshots from the film. Courtesy of the artist.
Screenshots from the film. Courtesy of the artist.
Screenshots from the film. Courtesy of the artist.

Furqat Palvan-Zade (1986), Tashkent, Uzbekistan (at the time the Uzbek SSR), lives in New Haven, USA.


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