The Contest in Context: Storytelling, Self-ethnography, and Solidarity: Uyghur Film in Focus (virtual)

By Haverford College's Hurford Center (other events)

Thursday, December 9 2021 4:30 PM 6:00 PM EST

Join us for a virtual screening program and discussion on contemporary Uyghur film culture with directors Suli Kurban and Memtjan Semet, moderated by Anthropologist Darren Byler and Project Liaison Pia Chakraverti-Wuerthwein.

The conversation will consider the challenges faced by and present the great work coming from contemporary Uyghur filmmakers. The program ranges from self-ethnographic works set in the region and films created in the diaspora with Uyghur subjects, to work that represent the bonds Uyghurs are creating with other stateless peoples.

In preparation for the event, you can access and view all of the featured films at:

Filmmakers featured in the program: Asman Media, Tahir Hamut Izgil, Suli Kurban, Mukaddas Mijit, Memetjan Semet, and Dimurat Tohti & Abdukadirjan Upur.

This event is part of The Contest of the Fruits Exhibits & Events and the The Contest in Context virtual event series. This event will take place virtually via Zoom. A login link will be emailed to you prior to event. If you registered late, you can also join via this link

About our featured guests:

Anthropologist Darren Byler is an incoming Assistant Professor of International Studies at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia and a post-doctoral research fellow in the China Made Project at the Center for Asian Studies, CU Boulder. He is the author of a forthcoming ethnography titled Terror Capitalism: Uyghur Dispossession and Masculinity in a Chinese City (Duke University Press 2021) and a narrative-driven book titled In the Camps: China's High-Tech Penal Colony (Columbia Global Reports 2021). His current research interests are focused on infrastructure development and global China in the context of Xinjiang and Malaysia. 

Suli Kurban is a screenwriter and director who has lived in Munich since 1999. The native Uyghur (Ürümchi) fled to Germany at the age of 11, politically persecuted. As an actress at the Münchner Kammerspiele, the Bavarian Broadcasting Corporation became aware of Kurban in 2008. From then on she reports for the BR on socio-political issues. In 2009, Kurban was awarded the European Civis Media Prize. In 2011, Suli passed the entrance exam and completed a degree as a director at the University of Television and Film in Munich. In the meantime she completed several commissioned productions. In 2020 Suli successfully developed the script for her feature film "ASIAMANIA". Her films, film hybrids, Snapchat and Instagram, series hit the zeitgeist. Suli Kurban is currently in charge of the social media editorship for Vice Media of the real-time series @ichbinsophiescholl running on Instagram.

Uyghur film director and producer Memetjan Semet is the director of 6 fiction and documentary film shorts and a regional television program. Prior to moving to the United States in 2016 a number of his award-winning films were broadcast on television channels in Northwest China, reaching millions of Uyghur viewers. In the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Semet was part of a generation of young filmmakers who brought influences from Uyghur theater and rural traditions into conversation with Iranian and American film styles. After a long hiatus he is now beginning a new fiction film project utilizing amateur actors in the Uyghur diaspora.


The Contest of the Fruits takes a nineteenth-century Uyghur allegorical poem as the point of departure for investigations into language, politics, religion, humor, resilience, and resistance in a pluralistic world. It includes a virtual series, publication, new animation work, and exhibition at Haverford’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery by renowned artist collective Slavs and Tatars in partnership with Haverford College’s Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities, Twelve Gates Arts, and the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Philadelphia

The Contest of the Fruits exhibit runs from September 10th - December 12, 2021. All exhibits and events are free and open to the public. For full schedule details and locations, visit: If you have any questions or issues registering, please email: [email protected] 

The Contest of the Fruits is supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage


Haverford College's Hurford Center