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Italian visual artist Yuri Ancarani’s beautiful and bizarre documentary takes us inside the rarefied world of Middle Eastern falconry. Here, the sport attracts passionate devotees from the Qatari hyper-rich who compete at auction for the best birds, drive deep into the desert to train their charges, and then assemble in Mad Max-style stadiums for spectacular tournaments.
Shot in stark observational style and with a soaring orchestral score, the film revels in the brilliant colors of the desert, filling the screen with eye-popping visuals. Beyond the landscape there is the surreal spectacle of the bizarre lifestyle of the film’s extravagantly wealthy subjects, including a cheetah riding in the passenger seat of a Lamborghini, falcons flying in luxury aboard private jets, and a gold-plated Harley Davidson. The result is jaw-dropping, visually striking film that slyly comments on the surreal levels of conspicuous consumption and opulence embraced by its subjects. (Dir. by Yuri Ancarani, 2016, France/Italy, in Arabic with English subtitles, 70 mins., Not Rated)

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