Monday, May 17, 2010

Sheik, Rattle and Roll

It's not every documentary film premiere that comes packaged with a performance by a pioneering punk rock band (Cinecyde) and a belly dancer (Lana) thrown in for good measure. But that's the colorful setting for the Tuesday May 18th Detroit unveiling of The Sheik: Wrestling's Greatest Villain, a loving one-hour look at late Lebanese-American resident Edward Farhat, whose wrestler alter ego of an evil Syrian prince complete with Bedouin-style headdress won the hearts of local wrestling fans in the 1960s and early 1970s.

The 242-pound ring-weighted Farhat, who passed away in 2003, is credited with pioneering a number of extreme wrestling techniques such as the throwing at opponents of a fireball. Director Mark Nowotarski interviewed Farhat's manager and a former bodyguard for the film, which also features footage of a 1994 bout shot by Nowotarski that the filmmaker says was The Sheik's final professional appearance. Tomorrow night's premiere is paired with the screening of an earlier Nowotarski documentary, The J.W. Westcott Story: Serving the Great Lakes Waterways, a Telly Award winning look at the crew of the only U.S. ship tasked with delivering mail to other ships as they are under way.

[The Sheik: Wrestling's Greatest Villain]

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