Events | LAYKA Lens Series: "Sumurun:" Screening & Discussion

Online | March 14, 2021 | 11:00 am

Shortly before his emigration to the United States, director Ernst Lubitsch created a silent film in which he himself participated as an actor for the last time. Set in Baghdad in the Islamic Golden Age, Sumurun tells of the unrequited love of a hunchback (played by Lubitsch) for a traveling dancer and the elicit love between the enslaved harem girl Sumurun and a cloth merchant. Writer Thomas Mann saw the film in Munich in 1920 and later incorporated the film experience into his novel The Magic Mountain. While Sumurun has been often criticized for stereotypes and historical distortion, the film’s orientalism is also a European projection that tells us much about the social order after the end of the German monarchy and the early Weimar Republic. 

The event is part of Yiddishkait’s LAYKA Lens Series, in partnership with the Thomas Mann House. After the virtual screening of the film, the panelists will engage in a discussion about the silent classic. 

The event takes place on March 14, 11 a.m. (PST) / 20:00 (CET).

Register here.


Deniz Göktürk, Professor at the German Department UC Berkeley. Her research focuses on moving images, multilingual literature, and theories of migration, social interaction and aesthetic intervention in a global horizon.

Boris Dralyuk, Editor-in-Chief of the Los Angeles Review of Books. He is a literary translator and author and the editor of the editor of 1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution (Pushkin Press, 2016)

Nikolai Blaumer, Program Director at the Thomas Mann House. Since 2014, he has been working for the Goethe-Institut’s Department of Culture. He is co-editor of the book Teilen und Tauschen (S. Fischer Verlag, 2017).

The conversation is moderated by Rob Adler Peckerar, Director of Yiddishkait.


The event is part of Yiddishkait’s LAYKA Lens Series, in partnership with the Thomas Mann House and the Los Angeles Review of Books.


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