October 26.21: Welcome

What is it about Bukhara that instantly envelopes you in a warm feeling of “welcome”? The mystical call to prayer at dawn? The people on the street who greet you by putting a hand on their heart and saying Assalomu Alaykum, literally “Peace be upon you.”? The tray of fruit and nuts offered by an old man with twinkling eyes when you unexpectedly drop by right before a family feast? The taxi driver who changes money for you when you forget to go to the bank? Sharing a cup of chai with a beloved artist in her studio? The tile maker’s grandson running after you with a gift of handmade animal figurines? Learning about local food, history, and culture over lunch? Neighbours chatting excitedly with each other and cheering on the street pavers after a year-long wait for roadwork to be completed due to pandemic-related delays? Being offered a taste of quince just picked off a tree in the caravanserai courtyard? New friends of all ages coming together at a beloved cultural institution to embark on a community film project? The cat who leads you home at the end of an evening ramble? The sense that many, many travellers have passed through this place before you and many, many travellers will pass through this place after you are long gone? Moments to just sit and contemplate the wonder of it all?

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Paolo Davanzo and Lisa Marr travel the world, sharing movies and music with the masses. At home in Los Angeles, they facilitate community screenings and workshops at the Echo Park Film Center, a non-profit media arts organization.

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