Alias Kurban Saïd

ALIAS KURBAN SAID is the quest for a mysterious writer with the help of excerpts from his novel ALI AND NINO – a recent sensational discovery with cult-status – and other partly autobiographical novellas. The journey touches areas of spiritual pursuit and takes us past exotic historical sites at the beginning of the twentieth century that have acquired a new relevance now, at the beginning of this new century.

The pursuit is more important than the goal, for the true identity of the writer is as heavily contested as it is dubious. The documentary shows us ‘the art of survival’ against a grim background. It has something of the atmosphere of a fantastic fairytale about a smart aleck, chameleon like braggart too quick for his foes and working in secret on his tragic masterpiece.


The mystery of the author of the 1937 cult novel “Ali and Nino” — a recently-rediscovered “Romeo and Juliet of the Caucasus” — is explored in “Alias Kurban Said.” Renowned Dutch documaker Jos de Putter travels from Azerbaijan to Austria to the U.S., chasing down who wrote the book under the pseudonym Kurban Said. Magnificent historical whodunit, wherein crumbling photographs, yellowing documents, and forgotten reels of 35mm film are invested with tremendous evocative power, should find post-fest welcome on indie cable…’

…’Overlaying much of docu’s multi-sourced footage is the off-screen voice of Bruno Ganz, reading aloud relevant descriptions from the novel’ uit variety


Jos de Putter

Jos de Putter (1959), born in Terneuzen, The Netherlands, finished his studies in 1984 as a political and literary scientist. He worked as a film critic for SKRIEN and different newspapers. From 1988 till 1992 he was a member of the editorial staff of Skrien. De Putter publishes as a freelance journalist in the following newspapers NRC handelsblad, de Volkskrant, De Groene Amsterdammer, Hard Gras en De Gids. He makes programmes for Diogenes, VPRO from 1995 till 1998. In 1993 he makes his first documentary IT WAS A LOVELY DAY, followed by SOLO, the favela’s law in 1994, 1999 The making of a new empire, 2002 Brooklyn Stories, 2002 The Damned and the sacred, 2004 Alias Kurban Said.


Director: Jos de Putter
Cinematography: Stef Tijdink
Sound: Tom d’Angremond, Pieter Guyt
Editor: Patrick Minks
Music: Paul M. van Brugge