A Place Where Cultures Meet
Caravanserai: A place where cultures meet creates new pathways for Americans to experience the diversity of contemporary Muslim cultures by introducing U.S. audiences to exciting and dynamic artists from the Muslim world.
The name “Caravanserai” evokes the roadside inns in the Far East where caravan travelers would gather after a long day’s journey through the desert heat. At night, the caravanserais were safe-havens, cheerful resting spots for the sharing of news, companionship, and entertainment. Caravanserai: A place where cultures meet creates a modern caravan to experience and enjoy artists from the Muslim world.
Caravanserai: A place where cultures meet is produced by Arts Midwest on behalf of the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations with leadership support from the Building Bridges Program of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. Caravanserai’s film and media programming is coordinated by South Arts.
Caravanserai’s 2014–2015 film residencies present 15Malaysia, an innovative project featuring short films by 15 Malaysian filmmakers and produced by noted Malaysia-based musician, actor, and filmmaker Pete Teo.
Originally made for release on the Internet, these films feature some of the best-known personalities in Malaysia—including actors, musicians, and spiritual and political leaders. The films examine sociopolitical issues central to modern Malaysian society, from corruption and freedom of speech to racism, religion, and cultural identity. In a multi-racial country where public expressions on race, religion, and politics are often regarded as taboo and subject to media censorship, 15Malaysia is groundbreaking.
Following its release in August 2009, 15Malaysia quickly became an unprecedented cultural phenomenon in Malaysia. At its peak, the project’s YouTube channel was the 10th most watched channel of its kind in the world, its official Facebook page accumulated more than 100,000 fans, and online 15Malaysia banners bearing the words “Voices Of New Malaysia” were embedded in 54,000 blog entries. The project also encouraged participation across Malaysian society by curating diverse, user-created films on its website.
Pete Teo is an award-winning musician, actor, and filmmaker based in Malaysia, and he was the producer and driving creative force behind 15Malaysia. Teo’s multimedia work is characterized by a quirky ability to bridge the divide between popular and critical appeal. His deep-rooted association with the independent arts movement also makes him one of the most influential personalities in Malaysian arts today. His work has been featured in international media and film festivals around the world, including Venice, Cannes, Tokyo, Rotterdam, and Marrakech. When not working, he helps run an organic farm just outside Malaysia’s largest city, Kuala Lumpur.