The “Perfect Sweat” series, in cooperation with Bray’s Run Productions and Motion Films Istanbul, begins filming today at the historic Sultan hammam of the Ciragan Palace Kempinski. The episode is produced and directed by Tuba Guvelioglu, whose credits include Netflix’s “Chef’s Table,” “Expedition Unknown,” and “The Martha Stewart Show.”
In this episode, photojournalist Mikkel Aaland, author of the 1978 classic, “Sweat,” returns after 44 years to Turkey, home of the Turkish bath, or hammam. His guide /co-host for this episode is Elizabet Kurumlu, a local hammam devotee.
“I arrived in Istanbul in 1975,” says Aaland. “I was young, and broke, and I stayed at a youth hostel near the Blue Mosque for a dollar a night. I was here to study the hammam, the Turkish form of the sauna used for centuries all over the Middle East. I am excited to see what has changed since then.”
With roots that go back to the ancient Roman and Greek times, the hammam is known throughout the Middle East as a place to clean body, mind and spirit. Its name means “spreader of warmth” and it is in the center of many important social rituals and customs. In this episode we will participate in a traditional pre-wedding henna ceremony newly popularized by Turkish millennials held in the magnificent 16th century Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hammam, located midway between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. We will witness an increasingly popular “Pledge” hammam ritual in the newly renovated Cukurcuma Hammam in the hip Cukurcuma neighborhood. We will help send an enlisted soldier off to the army with a party in the Cemberlitas Hammam, one of the oldest functioning hammams in Istanbul, designed by the great Renaissance architect Sinan.
We will see the contemporary Turkish artist Tarik Cengiz (known as the Picture Tailor) at work crafting typical hammam implements such as clogs and dipping bowls. We will visit the historic city of Bursa, famous for its hammam textiles and clothing and in the Kervansaray Thermal Hammam we will learn how to wash with intent from Nail Dede, a Sufi Master. And finally, we will meet Belgin Aksoy, the inspirational creator of Global Wellness Day and hear from her how Turkeyand the world is moving wellness programs from luxury spas to everyday life.
About the series: The Perfect Sweat
Throughout recorded human history, the sweat bath has comforted, healed, and strengthened the social bonds between rich and poor, young and old, strong and the weak. In Finland and much of the modern world, the sweat bath is known as the sauna. But the sauna is only part of the picture. In the Middle East the sweat bath is known as the hammam, in Mexico the temescal, in Russia the banya, among Native Americans, it is known as the sweat lodge, and in Japan the kara-furo and mushi-buro. Each bathing culture has its passionate devotees, unique history, rituals, and architecture.
Now, in this documentary series, sweat bathing guru Aaland teams up with local guides and retraces his steps in search of the perfect sweat. What he finds is an explosive rebirth of the ancient bathing traditions, traditions which include community rituals that are meant to revive the human spirit and change the world. So sit back and relax, and travel with us on this amazing and unique adventure!
Bray’s Run Productions
Bray’s Run Productions is a Seattle-based independent film production company founded by Greg Moga that specializes in exploring culture, history and travel through the prism of charismatic people across the globe. We open doors into aspects of culture that traditional media has overlooked.
Mikkel Aaland, producer / host
Mikkel Aaland is an award-winning photojournalist and the best-selling author of fifteen books. Aaland’s best-known book is the 1978 classic best seller ‘Sweat, the illustrated history and description of the Finnish sauna, Russian Banya, Islamic Hamman, Japanese mushi-buro, Mexican Temescal and American Indian & Eskimo sweat lodge.’
Elizabet Kurumlu, co-host/guide Turkey
Elizabet Kurumlu (Liz) has worked in productions for TV channels such as National Geographic, Discovery, PBS, BBC, CNN, Channel 4, ZDF, ORF, and hosted such well-known people as Kofi Annan, Michael Portillo, and Boris Johnson. She has guided and accompanied Michelin starred chefs, and international journalists from such prominent publications as Food Travel, The Times, and Vogue Gourmet.
Liz became a hammam devotee when she first discovered that the traditional Turkish baths are about surrender, always good for the soul, the mind and the body. From a 2,000-year-old hammam to private home hammams, from luxury hotel spa hammams to hole-in-the-wall local hammams, she has experienced more than 100 during her travels throughout Turkey and beyond, continuing her search for the perfect 3H – historic, hygienic, halcyon – hammams where she can surrender.
SOURCE Bray’s Run Productions
CONTACT: Sarah Moga Alemany, email@example.com, 619-379-1182, www.perfectsweatseries.com