- Published on Saturday, 17 September 2011 12:31
Rarely do Americans see a side of Pakistan - a nation that plays an integral part in the United States’ “war on terror” - apart from the slew of sensational images broadcast on mainstream media. The most frequently recurring image is that of a nation plagued by violence and poverty.
Bol or “Speak,” Pakistan’s second internationally released film, opened in movie theatres across the United States last Tuesday, giving international audiences a chance to see a cultural and artistic side of Pakistan. In Pakistan the film broke records, grossing 22.038 million Pakistani Rupees in six days.
Directed by Shoaib Mansoor, Bol is the story of a bold young lower-middle-class Pakistani woman, the eldest of many sisters, all of whom are born to a strictly fundamentalist father whose greatest desire is to have a son. In repeated attempts to preserve what he sees as his honor, he commits crimes and eventually ends up contradicting even his own most cherished beliefs.
Though it is far from a Bollywood blockbuster intended to please the masses, Bol has even received appreciation from long-time political rival India. It has created an opportunity for Indians to glimpse a film from a neighboring country about which most have had limited (and mostly negative) exposure through Indian mainstream media.
- Published on Saturday, 09 April 2011 09:29
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a sea of unspeakable tragedies that to us, outsiders looking in, have become commonplace. It has come to mean nothing but flashing headlines of destruction and sadness involving sobbing, distraught people, none of whom are distinguishable from another. We change the channel, vaguely disturbed, and forget all about it until the next tragedy comes along, sure to be forgotten in turn as well.
Now, with the advent of Miral, the conflict finally has a face — four of them, in fact. The film tells the closely interwoven stories of four extraordinary Palestinian women and is based on a semi-autobiographical novel by a woman who is an extraordinary Palestinian herself, journalist Rula Jebreal.
The first of these stories is that of Hind Husseini, founder and director of the Dar-El-Tifel girls orphanage/school of Jerusalem. Hind is an outstanding example of the Palestinians who have overcome the harsh circumstances of their continuously deteriorating situation to become beacons of hope. From a well-known family, she used her influence to develop Dar-El-Tifel and along with it the psyche of so many young Palestinian girls who otherwise would not have had a future.
- Published on Wednesday, 30 March 2011 17:38
With the release of Bal (“Honey”), acclaimed Turkish director Semih Kaplanoglu brings the final piece of the “Yusuf Trilogy”. The series, produced in reverse chronological order to tell the story of a poet who grew up in the remote mountains of Turkey’s Black Sea Region, released Yumurta (“Egg”) and Süt (“Milk”), in 2007 and 2008. Through the final episode, Bal, we explore Yusuf’s childhood.
The facts of the story are simple enough: Yusuf, a young boy with a stutter, adores his father, who works in tough conditions collecting honey, and has a more distant relationship with his mother, who is less tolerant of Yusuf’s affliction but is nonetheless a strong and caring figure.
At school, where his teacher is a kind man of few words, Yusuf pleads at a chance to read aloud to the class, always with the same result. When pressed to read new material, his stutter invariably stops him cold, keeping him from sharing with his peers socially and academically.
- Published on Monday, 28 March 2011 16:26
At the Women’s Voices Now sponsored Women’s Voices from the Muslim World Short Film Festival, the program titled “The Woman Warrior,” focused on the narratives of empowered Muslim women in the Middle East and beyond.
Totaling less than 6 minutes, 1700% Project: Mistaken for a Muslim packs a lot of emotion into a little reel. The short, which was developed as a collaboration between artist Anida Yoeu Ali and filmmaker Masahiro Sugano, highlights the negative stereotypes and treatments that Muslims, Middle Easterners, and South Asians have faced in the United States in the post 9/11 era. Fittingly, the piece derives its name from the 1700% increase in hate crimes against Muslims or groups perceived to be Muslim in the last decade.
Using vivid stories of real-life violence and racism as her pretext, Ali recites a poem with a heartbeat-like cadence that echoes the pain and injustice committed against innocent victims. This thump-thump style aptly juxtaposes the film’s two recurring images of death: martyrdom represented by the narrator on a stretcher, and an old man crumbling into opaque whiteness. While both images are rather cold and unsettling, they achieve a lasting effect: decontextualizing and recontextualizing the hate crimes into contemporary discourse. To her credit, Ali reminds us of the turbulent times that we live in.
- Published on Thursday, 24 March 2011 14:24
Women’s voices from the Muslim world are seldom heard in our part of the world. And even if they are brought to light in the mainstream media, the stories that are told are mostly of oppression and injustice. A young non-profit organization Women’s Voice Now took up the vital task of providing a voice to those women with their recent film festival event.