I Am the Revolution

I AM THE REVOLUTION is an empowering portrait of three determined women in the Middle East who are leading the fight for gender equality and freedom. Politician Selay Ghaffar is one of the most wanted people in the world by the Taliban and yet she still travels through Afghanistan to educate other women about their rights. Rojda Felat is a commander of the Syrian Democratic Army, leading 60,000 troops to defeat ISIS, including freeing their hold on Raqqa and rescuing its people. And Yanar Mohammed, named by the BBC as one of 100 most influential women in the world in 2018, pushes for parliamentary reform in Iraq while running shelters for abused women. Despite battling seemingly overwhelming obstacles, all three women display resilience, bravery and compassion. I AM THE REVOLUTION challenges the images of veiled, silent women in the Middle East and instead reveals the extraordinary strength of women rising up on the front lines to claim their voice and their rights.
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A Thousand Girls Like Me

A THOUSAND GIRLS LIKE ME is an awe-inspiring vérité documentary that tells the story of a young Afghan woman’s brave fight to seek justice and protect her children after experiencing years of abuse at the hands of her father. Khatera Golzad’s father physically and sexually abused her for more than thirteen years, and after several aborted pregnancies, she gave birth to a daughter and a son. Despite her many attempts to file charges, neither the Afghan police nor the legal system helped her. In 2014, she appeared on national television to publicly accuse her father, finally succeeding in bringing her case to court despite threats from male relatives and judges who labelled her a liar. Shedding light on the broken Afghan judicial system and the women it seldom protects, A THOUSAND GIRLS LIKE ME is the story of one woman’s battle against cultural, familial, and legal pressures as she embarks on a mission to set a positive example for her daughter and other girls like her. In a country where the systematic abuse of girls is rarely discussed, Afghan filmmaker Sahra Mani’s film is ultimately a story of bravery, love, hope and resilience.
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Girls' War

As the forces of ISIS and Assad tear through villages and society in Syria and Northern Iraq, a group of brave and idealistic women are taking up arms against them—and winning inspiring victories. Members of “The Free Women’s Party” come from Paris, Turkish Kurdistan, and other parts of the world. Their dream: To create a Democratic Syria, and a society based on gender equality. Guns in hand, these women are carrying on a movement with roots that run 40 years deep in the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey. GIRL’S WAR honors the legacy of Sakine Cansiz, co-founder of the PKK who was assassinated in Paris in 2013, and reflects on the sacrifices made by all of the women in the movement, who have endured jail, rape, war, and persecution in their quest to liberate their lives and sisters from male dominance. With scenes of solidarity, strength, and love amongst these brave women soldiers, GIRL'S WAR is a surprising story of Middle Eastern feminism on the front lines.
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Sonita

Two-time Sundance Film Festival award winner SONITA tells the inspiring story of Sonita Alizadeh, an 18-year-old Afghan refugee in Iran, who thinks of Michael Jackson and Rihanna as her spiritual parents and dreams of becoming a big-name rapper. For the time being, her only fans are the other teenage girls in a Tehran shelter. And her family has a very different future planned for her: as a bride she's worth $9,000. Iranian director Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami (GOING UP THE STAIRS) poignantly shifts from observer to participant altering expectations, as Sonita's story unfolds in this personal and joyful portrait. An intimate portrait of creativity and womanhood, SONITA highlights the rarely seen intricacies and shifting contrasts of Iranian society through the lens of an artist who is defining the next generation.
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Nada's Revolution

A coming of age story in the wake of the Arab Spring, NADA’S REVOLUTION is an intimate portrait of a young, post-revolution Egyptian woman fighting for her freedom and independence in a society caught between old traditions and modernization. Amidst the political turmoil that has paralyzed Egypt for almost three years, we follow Nada’s struggle to establish herself as an independent woman and theater professional as she sets out to make her old dream come true: to work with children’s theater. When the revolution broke out in 2011, Nada–like many other young women–was full of energy and hope. But in the aftermath of the revolution and when the election of President Morsi further pushes the country into political turmoil, the situation appears hopeless. Nada is confronted with the question of how to stay true to her own dreams, while conservative ideas about gender roles and women’s freedom are hard to change. Nada’s fight is not over.
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Feminism Inshallah: A History Of Arab Feminism

The struggle for Muslim women’s emancipation is often portrayed stereotypically as a showdown between Western and Islamic values, but Arab feminism has existed for more than a century. This groundbreaking documentary recounts Arab feminism’s largely unknown story, from its taboo-shattering birth in Egypt by feminist pioneers up through viral Internet campaigns by today’s tech-savvy young activists during the Arab Spring. Moving from Tunisia to Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, filmmaker and author Feriel Ben Mahmoud tracks the progress of Arab women in their long march to assert their full rights and achieve empowerment. Featuring previously unreleased archival footage and exclusive multigenerational interviews, FEMINISM INSHALLAH is an indispensable resource for Women’s Studies, Global Feminism, Middle East and Islamic Studies.
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Playing With Fire: Women Actors Of Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, women deciding to be actors make a dangerous choice. Banned under Taliban rule (1994-2001), Afghan theater is experiencing a comeback with many women at the forefront. But with powerful forces of Islamic fundamentalism, a resurgent Taliban, and patriarchal traditions in play, actresses often face the harshest criticism and are even sometimes viewed as prostitutes. Socially ostracized, and pressured to abandon their careers, they receive beatings and death threats for them and their family. Some are forced to flee the country and some are even killed. PLAYING WITH FIRE introduces us to six courageous Afghan women who share their passions for acting, dreams, and difficult realities. They include Sajida, a student targeted by extremists; Monirah, besieged co-founder of an innovative women’s theater troupe; Tahera, forced into exile because of award-winning work at a theater festival; Roya, whose TV career brings her constant harassment; and Leena and Breshna, unprotected by their stage and motion picture fame. Filmmaker Anneta Papathanassiou exposes pervasive erosions of Afghan women’s rights. Her timely, eye-opening documentary perfectly captures art’s transformative power and the dangers these courageous women face to do the work they love.
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Six Days: Three Activists, Three Wars, One Dream

This inspiring documentary, which follows three brave human rights defenders in Liberia, Abkhazia, Georgia and Iraq over six days, gives insight into the everyday struggle to improve the situation of women worldwide. SIX DAYS shines a necessary light on some of the most urgent and important human rights issues facing women today: girls education, honor killings, bride kidnappings and women’s health issues. Giving refuge and voice to women beaten, burned and threatened with death by their families, journalist Lanja, fearlessly challenges honor killings and domestic violence in Iraq’s Kurdish region. Nelly runs a cooperative and shelter in Monrovia, Liberia’s slums so that impoverished women can learn to read and earn money for their families. And in the breakaway republic of Abkhazia, Georgia, Maia, director of a women’s health group fighting for women’s sexual rights, brings medical care to women and girls in remote Caucasus villages while battling “bride kidnappings” and other archaic customs that lead to forced marriage. As it follows these three remarkable women, thousands of miles apart, SIX DAYS bears witness to their unwavering, shared commitment to women’s education, empowerment and dreams of a better life. An important film for those who wish to understand the challenges facing women in developing countries around the world and how feminism continues to help improve womens’ lives.
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Sound of Torture

Since 2006 when Europe closed its borders, human trafficking has burgeoned in Egypt’s Sinai Desert, where Eritrean asylum seekers and refugees heading north to Israel are kidnapped, held hostage, and tortured by Bedouin smugglers demanding exorbitant ransoms for their freedom. Fleeing an oppressive military dictatorship at home, with a “shoot-to-kill” policy at the border and where only pregnant women are exempted from service, over 300,000 Eritreans have fled their homeland in North Africa. Many of these men, women and children die in Sinai’s torture camps. This powerful documentary intimately follows Swedish-Eritrean journalist Meron Estefanos and her efforts to aid the hostages and their families. From Stockholm she runs a popular online radio show, fielding calls for help from Eritrean victims and their relatives. Her activism takes her to Israel and Egypt’s Sinai Desert to seek the release of a badly abused young woman held captive with her baby and to search for another who disappeared along the Egyptian-Israeli border after her ransom had been paid. Both eloquent and harrowing, SOUND OF TORTURE spotlights one of today’s most underreported human rights violations and the one woman who is making it her mission to create change.
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Kismet

Wildly popular at home, Turkish soap operas have taken the world by storm with more than 300 million viewers in 80 countries across the Middle East, North Africa, the Balkans, and Asia. With unprecedented access, KISMET delves into this phenomenon, weaving together excerpts from the major shows including interviews with their talent and the writers, producers and directors behind the scenes—primarily made up of women—and portraits of the everyday viewers in Turkey, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bulgaria, and Greece. Exploring how the serials captivate, inspire and empower women, the film reveals how the soaps impact and break down negative stereotypes and traditional taboos. The soaps openly discuss rape, sexual and domestic violence, child and arranged marriages, and honor killings while also sparking change in gender relationships, activism against sexual abuse, and a wave of divorce across the Middle East. Invaluable for studies in media and popular culture, KISMET discloses how profoundly Turkish soaps penetrate viewers’ social and religious realities while empowering and helping women to transform their lives and strengthen the debate about women’s rights across the region.
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Forbidden Voices: How to Start a Revolution with a Computer

Their voices are suppressed, prohibited and censored. But world-famous bloggers Yoani Sánchez, Zeng Jinyan and Farnaz Seifi are unafraid of their dictatorial regimes. These fearless women represent a new, networked generation of modern rebels. In Cuba, China and Iran their blogs shake the foundations of the state information monopoly, putting them at great risk. This film accompanies these brave young cyberfeminists on perilous journeys. Eyewitness reports and clandestine footage show Sánchez's brutal beating by Cuban police for criticizing her country's regime; Chinese human rights activist Jinyan under house arrest for four years; and Iranian journalist and women's advocate Seifi forced into exile, where she blogs under a pseudonym. Tracing each woman's use of social media to denounce and combat violations of human rights and free speech in her home country, FORBIDDEN VOICES attests to the Internet's potential for building international awareness and political pressure.
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Rights & Wrongs

By returning to the roots of Islam and understanding how societies have found justification for their treatment of women within Islamic sources, this thoughtful and far reaching film is an essential resource that debunks myths about women and Islam. Renowned Muslim feminist scholars and journalists, including Asra Q. Nomani, Mona Eltahawy, Azadeh Moaveni, Dr. Amina Wadud, Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl and Asma Gull Hasan, detail how from early on very different understandings of the Qur’an lead to vastly different translations, with enormous repercussions for women living in different Islamic societies around the world. The film alternates between the history of Mohammad and issues facing Muslim women today—from the wearing of the veil, to praying in the mosque, and attitudes towards domestic violence and honor killings. It also looks at how feminism works within Islam in the modern era. RIGHTS & WRONGS is indispensable for courses on Islamic and Middle Eastern studies, comparative religion, women’s studies and more.
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Poetry of Resilience

Academy® Award nominated director Katja Esson’s (FERRY TALES, LATCHING ON) exquisitely made film explores survival, strength and the power of the human heart, body and soul—as expressed through poetry. She highlights six different poets, who individually survived Hiroshima, the Holocaust, China’s Cultural Revolution, the Kurdish Genocide in Iraq, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Iranian Revolution. By summoning the creative voice of poetry to tell stories of survival and witness, each reclaims humanity and dignity in the wake of some of history’s most dehumanizing circumstances. POETRY OF RESILIENCE gives us an intimate look into the language of the soul and brings us closer to understanding the insanity of war and how art will flourish, in spite of any obstacle.This film is recommended for courses in poetry studies, literature, peace and conflict studies and genocide studies.
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Voices Unveiled: Turkish Women Who Dare

Can Islamic values co-exist with full equality for women? VOICES UNVEILED examines this timely issue through portraits of three women pursuing life paths and careers of their own choosing in present-day Turkey. Each has defied social expectations in a democratic, secular nation where religious fundamentalism has re-emerged as a political force and patriarchal values still prevail. Well-known textile artist Belkis Belpinar, whose work combines science and kilim rug traditions, resisted her father’s wishes that she study engineering. Dancer and psychologist Banu Yucelar braved family opposition to modern dance, widely perceived as a form of prostitution. Women’s rights activist Nur Bakata Mardin helps women in underserved communities, where old beliefs hold sway, form small business cooperatives. As engaging as its subjects, VOICES UNVEILED punctuates its in-depth portraits with insights from other Turks and lively discussions that include intergenerational debates over veiling. The film is a valuable companion to WOMEN OF TURKEY, which offers a different take on gender roles that embrace modern lifestyles and Islamic culture.
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Mother, Lebanon & Me

A visually striking meditation on loss and a perceptive political critique, this deeply personal work has two subjects: filmmaker Olga Naccache’s ailing mother and the chaotic country where Naccache was raised. Both fell sick in 1975, the onset of incurable depression for one and a bloody civil war ushering in deep divisions for the other. In this sequel to LEBANON: BITS AND PIECES (1994), Naccache ponders the plight of the country she clearly loves while honoring the mother dear to her. Her montage draws on conversations with Naccache's mother toward the end of life, along with footage of this beautiful, accomplished woman and ardent secularist in more physically robust times. Stunning scenes of tranquil Beirut and southern Lebanon contrast with close-ups of a nation under siege from within and abroad. Recent interviews with two longtime friends—a leftist teacher of philosophy in a Christian village school and a Shiite Muslim viewing Hezbollah as Lebanon’s only hope—raise crucial questions about the nation’s identity and precarious future.
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Unveiled Views

In this revealing documentary five extraordinary women talk about their occupations, aspirations, and the rights and status of women in their Muslim countries. Bosnian Alma Suljevic risks her life daily clearing the landmines near Sarajevo that are war’s deadly legacy, then sells minefield earth in European art galleries so that she can continue her work. Eren Keskin, a longtime human rights activist and lawyer with music conservatory training, fights to change Turkey’s legal practices that perpetuate violence against women. Veteran filmmaker Rakshan Bani-Ehmad, true to her credo that art must “look, observe, and discover”, frequently pushes Iran’s censorship rules to the limit. Surrounded by conflict since childhood, young Afghani writer Moshagan Saadat creates brave, profoundly moving and memorable poems. And renowned Pakistani dancer Nahid Siddiqui, once forced to live outside her homeland when her work was banned, continues to perfect, renew, and teach her art form. Captured by Spanish filmmaker Alba Sotorra, who hitchhiked from Barcelona to Pakistan to shoot UNVEILED VIEWS, these self-portraits of hope, heroism, and pride challenge conventional Western stereotypes about women in the Islamic world.
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My Israel – Revisiting the Trilogy

Few filmmakers have probed issues of Israeli nationalism and Israeli-Palestinian relations more completely or intimately than Tel Aviv-born Yulie Cohen. In My Israel, Cohen revisits her acclaimed trilogy My Terrorist (2002), My Land Zion (2004), and My Brother (2007) with new footage, fresh perspective, and her trademark fearlessness. For Cohen, Israel is the land of her ancestors, the land her parents fought for during the 1948 war and the land she herself served as an Air Force Officer during the Entebbe crisis. In 1978, working as an El Al stewardess, she survived a terrorist attack in London that killed a colleague and left her with shrapnel in her arm. Embarking on a difficult and emotional journey, she attempts to free the surviving terrorist who attacked her, to question the myths of the state that she grew up in, and to reconcile with her ultra-orthodox brother after 25 years of estrangement. My Israel is an account of remarkable courage and understanding set against the last turbulent decade of Israeli history, successfully combining Cohen’s 10-year oeuvre in an incisive and refreshing new way.
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Four Wives – One Man

From Nahid Persson, the filmmaker of the award-winning Prostitution Behind the Veil, comes an intimate portrait of a polygamist family in a rural Iranian village. Persson reveals the intricacies of the relationships between the four wives, their husband, their astoundingly free-spoken mother-in-law and their numerous children. Sometimes humorous and often heartbreaking, this film follows the daily lives of the wives whose situation has turned them into both bitter rivals and co-conspirators against their abusive husband. Persson’s camera unobtrusively and beautifully captures the range of the family’s interactions – from peaceful, pastoral scenes of a family picnic, to the temporary chaos caused by a broken faucet in the kitchen, to a furtive, whispered conversation between two wives about the latest beating. The women’s work – making bread, weaving carpets, milking and herding the sheep – provide the background to their frank conversations. Avoiding sensationalism and sentimentality, this film provides unique insights into the practice of polygamy and its effect on the women involved.
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3 Times Divorced

How does a Palestinian woman in Israel survive an abusive husband? When Gaza-born Khitam’s abusive Arab Israeli husband divorces her and gains custody of her six children, she suddenly finds herself fighting two heart-breaking battles: against the Sharia Muslim court to get her children back, and against the state of Israel, which considers her an illegal resident and denies her protection in a shelter for battered women. 3 TIMES DIVORCED is a fascinating and disturbing look at a civil and religious legal system that denies women the right to get a divorce independent of their husbands. It highlights the bind that abused women find themselves in when their immigration status is contingent upon marriage. With remarkable access and an unflinching lens that never sensationalizes, award-winning filmmaker Ibtisam Salh Mara'ana captures Khitam’s astonishing courage as she faces an impossible situation with no country or court to protect her.
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The Noble Struggle of Amina Wadud

On March 18, 2005, Amina Wadud shocked the Islamic world by leading a mixed-gender Friday prayer congregation in New York. THE NOBLE STRUGGLE OF AMINA WADUD is a fascinating and powerful portrait of this African-American Muslim woman who soon found herself the subject of much debate and Muslim juristic discourse. In defying 1400 years of Islamic tradition, her action caused global awareness of the struggle for women’s rights within Islam but also brought violence and death threats against her. Filmmaker Safari follows this women’s rights activist and scholar around the world as she quietly but with utter conviction explains her analysis of Islam in the classroom, at conferences, in her home, and in the hair dresser’s shop. Wadud explains how Islam, with its promise of justice, appeals to the African American community. And she links the struggle for racial justice with the need for gender equality in Islam. Deeply engaging, this film offers rare insights into the powerful connections between Islam, women’s rights, and racial justice.
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Women of Turkey: Between Islam and Secularism

In this thought-provoking documentary, veiled and unveiled women explore relationships between Islam and secularism in present-day Turkey, where millions of women, many of them educated and urban, wear the headscarf or hijab. For her survey, filmmaker Naccache, who was born in Turkey and raised in Lebanon, draws on historical footage and individual visits with Turkish women from across the professional spectrum. Among them are the owner of a gallery devoted to Islamic art; a left-wing journalist whose politics stem from her religious convictions; a young intellectual adhering to a spirituality based on no single religion; and the film critic and columnist for a popular online newspaper. Their wide-ranging interviews, which analyze the background and impact of controversial bans on headscarves in universities and civil service, yield fresh perspectives on Turkish women’s integration of Islamic culture and modern lifestyles, as well as their far-reaching achievements and priorities for the future.
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My Home - Your War

MY HOME – YOUR WAR offers an extraordinary look at the effect of the Iraq war through the eyes of an ordinary Iraqi woman. Shot in Baghdad over three years that span the time before, during and after the invasion of Iraq, this profoundly moving film brings a perspective that – until now – has rarely been available to U.S. audiences. This film combines insightful interviews with Layla Hassan and her family, vibrant scenes of Baghdad and intimate footage shot by Layla herself to paint a compelling picture of how the war has affected average Iraqis. As Islamic fundamentalism takes hold in the chaos of Baghdad, her shy teenage son turns to militancy, her once-progressive sister dons the veil, and whatever freedom Layla once had under Saddam Hussein’s secular rule is steadily being eroded. While facts about the Iraq war garner much U.S. media attention, My Home – Your War is a deeply compelling account of something seldom discussed: how the Iraq war has created a situation where the rise of fundamentalism is putting women’s rights increasingly at risk.
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These Girls

Screened to audiences at the Cannes, Toronto, and New York film festivals, this fresh, irresistibly lively, intensely engaging documentary from widely acclaimed Egyptian director Tahani Rached (SORAÏDA, WOMAN OF PALESTINE and FOUR WOMEN OF EGYPT) follows a band of teenage girls living on the streets of Cairo. Rached won astonishing access to the girls’ world; this vigorous, cinematic film is built upon the deep trust of its subjects and the long experience of the filmmaker. Already at a disadvantage as impoverished and abused girls in a Muslim society, they encounter rape, drug addiction, prostitution, pregnancy and motherhood on the streets. While the girls’ troubles are not downplayed, neither are their courage, playfulness and vibrant camaraderie. Rached brings alive the pulse of Cairo’s streets, offering an unsentimental portrait that avoids traps of guilt or cheap pity. What stands out is the strength and sheer joy that these girls project. With deft skill Rached reveals an invisible world and offers a loving homage to the inspirational, fierce girls who inhabit it.
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Enemies of Happiness

"In September 2005, Afghanistan held its first parliamentary elections in 35 years. Among the candidates for 249 assembly seats was Malalai Joya, a courageous, controversial 27-year-old woman who had ignited outrage among hard-liners when she spoke out against corrupt warlords at the Grand Council of tribal elders in 2003. ENEMIES OF HAPPINESS is a revelatory portrait of this extraordinary freedom fighter and the way she won the hearts of voters, as well as a snapshot of life and politics in war-torn Afghanistan. Amidst vivid, poetic images of Joya's dusty Farah Province, the film tracks the final weeks of her campaign, when death threats restrict her movements. But the parade of trusting constituents arriving on her doorstep leaves no doubt that Joya is a popular hero. Among her visitors is a 100-year-old woman who treks two hours to offer loyalty and herbal medicine. King Solomon-style, Joya acts as folk mediator and advocate, adjudicating between a wife and her violent, drug-addicted husband and counseling a family forced to marry off their adolescent daughter to a much older man. Protected by armed guards, Joya heads to poor rural areas to address crowds of women, pledging to be their voice and ‘expose the enemies of peace, women, and democracy.’ In the presence of her fierce tenacity, we can imagine the future of an enlightened nation.” - Caroline Libresco, Sundance Film Festival
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They Call Me Muslim

In popular Western imagination, a Muslim woman in a veil – or hijab – is a symbol of Islamic oppression. But what does it mean for women’s freedom when a democratic country forbids the wearing of the veil? In this provocative documentary, filmmaker Diana Ferrero portrays the struggle of two women – one in France and one in Iran – to express themselves freely. In 2004, the French government instituted an "anti-veil law," forbidding Muslim girls from wearing the hijab to school. Samah, a teenager in Paris who, at 14 decided to wear the veil, explains how the law attacks her sense of identity – and does not make her feel liberated. “Who says that freedom is not wearing anything on your head?” she asks. Half a world away in Tehran, “K,” forced to wear the hijab by the Islamic regime, defiantly wears it her own way – and her translucent scarf loosely draped over her hair puts her at risk of arrest. When Ferrero films her at home, K, comfortable in a tank top and shorts, says, “They call me Muslim... But do you see me as a Muslim? What do you have in your mind for a Muslim person?” Beautifully shot and finely crafted, THEY CALL ME MUSLIM highlights how women still must struggle for the right to control their own bodies – not only under theocratic regimes, but also in secular, democratic countries where increasing discrimination against Muslims and sexism intersect.
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Leila Khaled: Hijacker

In 1969 Palestinian Leila Khaled made history by becoming the first woman to hijack an airplane. As a Palestinian child growing up in Sweden, filmmaker Lina Makboul admired Khaled for her bold actions; as an adult, she began asking complex questions about the legacy created by her childhood hero. This fascinating documentary is at once a portrait of Khaled, an exploration of the filmmaker’s own understanding of her Palestinian identity, and a complicated examination of the nebulous dichotomy between "terrorist" and "freedom fighter." When Makboul tracks Khaled down, she finds Khaled living an ordinary life in Jordan, still firm in her belief that her actions were necessary and fully justified. The film weaves together scenes with Khaled, archival footage, and interviews with the people who were on the planes Khaled hijacked. Makboul searches for a way to reconcile her understanding of the Palestinian national narrative - which now includes Khaled’s actions - with the negative image she encounters from the rest of the world of Palestinians as bloodthirsty terrorists. At the same time, she comes to know Khaled for the very real person that she is as they talk, travel together, and share meals. The result is a multi-dimensional film unlike any other in its skillful handling of the complexities that arise when liberation movements incorporate violence as a tactic.
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Linda & Ali

LINDA AND ALI provides a nuanced and intimate look into the life of a traditional Muslim family in Doha, Qatar. But Linda and Ali’s 20-year marriage is far from traditional. Linda was brought up Catholic in Arizona and met Ali – a Shiite Muslim from Qatar – at college in the 1980’s. Shot during the American invasion of Iraq, this poignant film shows how Linda and Ali struggle to surmount their cultural differences while raising their seven children in a lively, loving home. Unlike many foreign wives, Linda adopted the Shiite Muslim traditions of her husband, and swathed in black, she looks like any other Qatari woman. Within the four walls of their comfortable home, however, Western and Middle Eastern ideals, ethics and attitudes often collide. Linda enrolls her daughters in gymnastics classes, clashing with local morals, but she has yet to convince the girls that a “love marriage” such as hers is preferable to an arranged marriage. Filmmaker Lut Vandekeybus hones in on surprising and candid family discussions about issues such as second wives, religion and Qatari society in general, painting a fascinating portrait of a family living at the complex intersection of gender roles, nationality and religion. For two years, Vandekeybus was given extraordinary access to a culture rarely open to outsiders, and the resulting film offers viewers a unique opportunity to view Muslim culture through Linda’s eyes and counteract the often distorted images of Islamic culture and Muslim people provided by the mainstream media
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A Woman's Word

Beautiful and intimate, A WOMAN'S WORD depicts the life and writings of three exceptional authors of the Arab word – Nawal Al Saadawi from Egypt, Hanan Al Shaykh from Lebanon, and Janata Bennuna from Morocco. For all three women, becoming a writer was never a choice but a necessity – a vocation fought for and hard won. In her own way, each writer struggles as an Arab woman in a society that often wants to shut down her powerful voice. Conveying the intense drive of these women to write as a way to make sense of the world, to battle their sense of alienation or to express their political dissent, this documentary shatters the clichéd image of the oppressed and helpless Arab woman too often portrayed in the media. A WOMAN'S WORD deftly weaves together interviews, family photos, voiceovers of each author reading from her work, and lingering, sensual footage of the cities each woman lives in. Each author discusses her childhood, her development as a writer, and the political and cultural forces that have shaped her life and work. By allowing the viewer to enter, for a moment, into the vibrant lives of these authors, this film offers an accessible introduction or insightful companion piece to the works of these authors.
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Women in Struggle

WOMEN IN STRUGGLE presents rare testimony from four female Palestinian ex-detainees who disclose their experiences during their years of imprisonment in Israeli jails and the effect it has had on their present lives and future outlooks. Once content in their lives as sisters, wives and mothers, each of the women became active members for the national fight for Palestinian independence, but their “crimes” differed markedly–one woman was detained in a peaceful protest while another was arrested for her participation in a bombing. Their painful recollections provide a fascinating personal perspective on their motives for political involvement, reveal their struggles in prison, and define the difficulties they have faced readjusting to life in Palestinian society. Though the women are now free, they continue to feel imprisoned by the current climate of the Intifada, by the “war on terror” and by the recently built “security” wall. With horrifying stories of torture suffered while in Israeli detention, the film brings to the forefront the hot-button issue of human rights abuses in prisons—and its particular implications for women prisoners. It also grapples with timely and difficult questions—what politicizes an individual? Are people born to fight, or do their circumstances force them to do so? Presented without narration, WOMEN IN STRUGGLE does not categorize its subjects as heroes or criminals, instead letting the women’s voices stand on their own to add another layer to the complex discourse on Israel.
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Search for Freedom

SEARCH FOR FREEDOM traces the dramatic social and political history of Afghanistan from the 1920s to the present through the stories of four remarkable women: Princess Shafiqa Saroj, sister of the beloved progressive King Amanullah (1919-1929); Mairman Parveen, the first woman to sing on Afghan radio; Moshina, a war widow and survivor of a Taliban massacre; and Sohaila, an exiled medical student who ran underground schools for RAWA (Revolutionary Association of Afghan Women) during the Taliban regime. Through their personal stories, a surprising portrait of Afghanistan’s history emerges. Stunning archival footage from the early 20th century captures a time of remarkable progress and freedom for women that belies most Western perceptions. Other historical footage and Jahnagir’s incisive commentary reveal women’s realities and resilience under near constant occupation, first with the Soviet invasion, then under the mujahadeen and more recently under the repressive Taliban. Defying and clarifying the image of Afghan women as mere victims, SEARCH FOR FREEDOM offers a nuanced portrait of women who find choices where none are offered, who continue to find hope in the face of exile and isolation.
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Afghanistan Unveiled

Filmed by the first ever team of women video journalists trained in Afghanistan, this rare and uncompromising film explores the effects of the Taliban’s repressive rule and recent U.S.-sponsored bombing campaign on Afghani women. None of the fourteen journalist trainees had ever traveled outside Kabul. Except for one, none had been able to study or pursue careers while the Taliban controlled their country. Leaving Kabul behind for the more rural regions of the country, the filmmakers present heartbreaking footage of Hazara women whose lives have been decimated by recent events. With little food and no water or electricity, these women have been left to live in caves and fend for themselves, abandoned in the wake of the U.S. invasion. While committed to revealing such tragedies to the world, the filmmakers also manage to find moving examples of hope for the future. A poetic journey of self-discovery, AFGHANISTAN UNVEILED is a revelatory and profound reminder of the independent media’s power to bear witness and reveal truth.
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For a Place Under the Heavens

Acclaimed director Sabiha Sumar, recent winner of the Golden Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival for her feature Silent Waters, offers an insightful perspective on Pakistan in this finely crafted personal film. Beginning with the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Sumar traces the relationship of Islam to the state in an effort to understand how women are coping with and surviving the increasing religiosity of civil and political life in her country. Raised in a more secular time, she struggles to comprehend how religious schools have expanded at once unthinkable rates and presents chilling footage of a mother encouraging her toddler to be a martyr when he grows up. Mixing political analysis with interviews with activist colleagues, noted Islamic scholars and Pakistani women who have chosen to embrace fundamentalism, Sumar’s provocative questions dramatically capture the tension between liberal and fundamentalist forces that are shaping life in contemporary Pakistan. “Less an ethnography than a philosophical and historical inquiry into the meaning of gender within Islam, it provides a witty, incisive, and important reflection on the "parameters" of gender hierarchy and, indeed, the "truth" of law, both secular and religious. Required viewing to understand some of the specific ideological conundrums within the sexual politics in Pakistan.” Joseph Boles, Northern Arizona University
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The Ladies Room

Directed by the acclaimed Iranian actress Mahnaz Afzali and filmed entirely inside a ladies washroom in a public park in Tehran, this absorbing documentary shatters Western preconceptions of Iranian women. Populated by addicts, prostitutes, runaway girls and others who simply enjoy the camaraderie and atmosphere, the ladies room becomes one of the few places where women feel comfortable enough to smoke cigarettes, discuss taboo subjects and remove their veils. In a series of frank and intimate conversations, these diverse women debate everything from drugs and family abuse, to sex, relationships and religion. Maryam is an epileptic who reveals the brutal circumstances that drove her to heroin addiction and self-mutilation; Sepideh describes her fraught relationship with her mother and her struggle to get back on her feet; and the old woman who runs the bathroom alternately offers tough love and a shoulder to cry on. Raw and provocative, this engrossing film is a remarkable verite look at the hidden lives of Iranian women.
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Paradise Lost

Arab Israeli filmmaker Ibtisam Salh Mara'ana grew up in Paradise (Fureidis in Arabic), a small fishing village overlooking the Mediterranean. One of the few Arab communities remaining after the 1948 war, Paradise became culturally and politically isolated as Jewish settlements sprung up around it, and today it is a place defined by silence and repression. This thought-provoking and intimate film diary follows the director’s attempt to recreate the village’s lost history, including the story of her childhood hero Suuad, the legendary local “bad girl” who was imprisoned as a PLO activist in the 1970’s and banished from the community. The director’s frustration builds as her questions are resisted, and her hopes soar when she finally meets Suuad, now a Doctor of Law living in the UK. Stunning cinematography and evocative music underscore the power of Mara’ana’s film, whose lyrical, emotionally charged tone is strikingly honest and straightforward. Presenting the rarely heard voice of an Arab Israeli, this important film offers valuable insight into the contradictions and complexities of modern womanhood and national identity in the Middle East.
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My Terrorist

In 1978, filmmaker Yulie Cohen was wounded in a terrorist attack by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. A stewardess for the Israeli airline El Al, she was attacked along with other crewmembers when getting off the bus to the hotel in London. In a remarkable twist of faith, twenty-three years later Cohen began questioning the causes of violence between Israelis and Palestinians and started to consider helping release the man who almost killed her, Fahad Mihyi. From the time she was a young girl, Cohen considered herself a staunch Israeli nationalist. Growing up in an upper middle class neighborhood in Israel (where her neighbors included future Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Arik Sharon, and military hero Moshe Dayan), she patriotically served in the military. After working as an Israel coordinator on a film shoot and visiting the occupied territories, Cohen came to realize that both Israelis and Palestinians played a role in perpetuating the cycle of hostility and bloodshed. It was her goal to stand up as a survivor and call for reconciliation on each side. An inspiring story of forgiveness, Cohen’s poignant documentary is a moving testimony of human compassion and a call for peace.
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For My Children

In October 2000, as the second Palestinian Intifada erupts, Israeli filmmaker Michal Aviad begins an exploration about both the moral and mundane dilemmas she faces every day in Tel Aviv. What begins with deceptive simplicity-a tender scene of sending the children off to school-quickly becomes a profound study of vulnerability and anxiety. Small acts like crossing the street are charged with inescapable fear. As the nightmare of violence escalates over the coming months, Michal and her husband Shimshon ask the quintessential Diaspora Jewish question, "When is it time to go?" The question reverberates through a stream of images-public and private, home video and historic archival footage-as her parents and extended family recount their own journeys to Israel from Europe, escaping death and the Holocaust, and from America, out of ideological commitment to Israel. Their stories are told with vivid, beautiful detail-at a bucolic family picnic, during a vacation on the California coast-and with a degree of candor and intimacy rarely seen in Israeli cinema. "I don't want to be an immigrant," says Shimshon, a political activist whose profound feelings about displacement and exile are interwoven with TV images of war, children asleep in their beds, grandma making pasta and the sounds of sirens. Tanks roll over the hills as tea is being made in the kitchen in a cosmic seesaw between blissful domesticity and the nightmare of public life, in this deeply moving and riveting video essay. -Deborah Kaufman
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Ramleh

A timely and powerful look at the ideological, cultural and political conflicts in contemporary Israel, this highly original documentary profiles three seemingly disparate women residing in the town of Ramleh. Located in the heartland of the Israel, this former Palestinian territory serves as a microcosm of the beliefs, biases and conflicts of women living in the country today. Profiled in this compelling documentary are Sima and Orly, two ultra-orthodox Jewish women who rediscover religion and enthusiastically support the conservative “Shas” party, the third largest political party in Israel; Svetlana, a single-mother and recent immigrant struggling to establish herself in her new country; and Gehad, a young Muslim teacher and law student attempting to find a sense of national identity in a predominately Jewish state. Filmed between the general elections in 1999 and the 2001 elections, Ramleh demonstrates the profound cultural and political divisions barring these women from living together as a united community, as well as reveals how their political landscape helped sow the seeds of the intifada in 2000. It similarly raises the question of whether each woman and the communities they represent will ever peacefully reconcile their search for tradition, religion and homeland.
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Hollywood Harems

"Tania Kamal-Eldin has once again produced a stunning video, a half-hour documentary, this time taking critical aim at Hollywood's abiding fascination with and fantasies about all things east. Juxtaposing film clips from the 20s through the 60s, 70s, and 80s, Kamal-Eldin explores the organization of gender, race, and sexuality in Hollywood's portrayal of the exotic east an indiscriminate fusion of things Arab, Persian, Chinese and Indian. She argues, convincingly, that in abridging cultural plurality and difference, these technicolor fantasies have worked both to shape and reinforce often derogative assumptions about peoples of the east while at the same time reinscribing the moral, spiritual, and cultural supremacy of the Anglo-European west. HOLLYWOOD HAREMS is skillfully crafted, well-paced technically adept production versatile and especially suitable for use in a variety of classroom settings." Dr Valerie Hartouni, Director, Critical Gender Studies Program, University of California at San Diego
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A Place Called Home

Persheng Sadegh-Vaziri grew up in pre-Revolution Tehran daydreaming about an ideal life in the West. Nineteen years later, after living and working in the U.S., Persheng explores her controversial decision to move back to Iran, to return to the place she never stopped calling home. In this fascinating and very personal documentary, Persheng's interviews with her family--with her mother and sister in the U.S. and with her father, who chose to remain in Iran--reveal some of the complex layers of expatriate, national and cultural identities. The film features a rare glimpse at women's lives in contemporary Tehran.
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Divorce Iranian Style

Hilarious, tragic, stirring, this fly-on-the-wall look at several weeks in an Iranian divorce court provides a unique window into the intimate circumstances of Iranian women’s lives. Following Jamileh, whose husband beats her; Ziba, a 16-year-old trying to divorce her 38-year-old husband; and Maryam, who is desperately fighting to gain custody of her daughters, this deadpan chronicle showcases the strength, ingenuity, and guile with which they confront biased laws, a Kafaka-esque administrative system, and their husbands’ and families’ rage to gain divorces. With the barest of commentary, acclaimed director Kim Longinotto turns her cameras on the court and lets it tell its own story. Dispelling images of Iran as a country of war, hostages, and “fatwas”, and Iranian women as passive victims of a terrible system, this film is a subtle, fascinating look at women’s lives in a country which is little known to most Americans. Directed by Kim Longinotto and Ziba Mir-Hosseini, author of MARRIAGE ON TRIAL: A STUDY OF ISLAMIC FAMILY LAW.
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In My Father's House

In this beautiful, poetic and deeply personal film, Moroccan filmmaker Fatima Jebli Ouazzani investigates the status accorded women in Islamic marriage customs and the continuing importance of virginity. Ouazzani left her father’s house in Morocco sixteen years ago to escape the constraints her culture and its traditions have put on women. She returns now to confront those traditions, her own family and herself. Following three generations of women — her grandmother and mothers’ arranged marriages, her grandmother’s subsequent attempts to divorce, and Naima, a young woman who has returned home for a traditional wedding ceremony—she questions whether her choice for a life of her own was worth the loss of her father. Jebli Ouazzani offers us a rare glimpse of the shifts and changes in Moroccan and Islamic culture in this powerful, moving film.
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Jenny and Jenny

This moving, closely observed portrait of adolescence documents one summer in the lives of two 17 year old cousins named Jenny. As North African Jewish immigrants living on Israel's working class Mediterranean coast, the girls' changing environment provides a fascinating window into a culture both religious and secular. In struggling towards self-definition, their experiences embody universal concerns of young women. An intimate look at the cousins at school, at home, and with friends, JENNY AND JENNY sensitively depicts the fragility and power of girls moving towards womanhood.
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Ever Shot Anyone?

Israeli filmmaker Michal Aviad provides a woman's take on how national culture is informed by male identity through the military experience that bonds her country's Jewish men. EVER SHOT ANYONE? documents Aviad's attempt to infiltrate the world of army reservists during their annual tour of duty on the Golan Heights. Gradually, but not without suspicion and hostility toward the intruder in their midst, the middle-aged civilian-soldiers reveal notions about male identity, friendship, family and gender relations. This dominant male culture through the eyes of the ultimate outsider--a woman.
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Covered: The Hejab in Cairo, Egypt

Just over a decade ago it was hard to find women on the streets of Cairo who veiled, a custom that their forebearers struggled to overthrow at the beginning of the twentieth century. But today, many Muslim women in Egypt wear a head scarf called the hejab, and in more extreme cases they cover their entire faces. This absorbing documentary offers a rare opportunity to examine the restoration of veiling and the reasons for its pervasiveness through the eyes of Egyptian women. In unique interviews with women of different ages and backgrounds, COVERED reveals that Islamic tradition, religious fundamentalism, and growing nationalism are not solely responsible for decisions to wear the hejab. Diverse social, economic and political factors, as well as personal preferences, often play prominent roles. As timely as it is compelling, the film shows how complex causes account for a phenomenon that is poorly understood outside the Muslim world.
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Girls Still Dream

In this engrossing new documentary, award-winning filmmaker Ateyyat El Abnoudy realistically portrays the challenges facing girls in a country where one in four marries before age sixteen and one in five ever attends school. While girls both in and out of school share ambitions ranging from becoming a doctor to attaining basic reading skills, parents express mixed feelings about education's relevance. An affecting view of how Egyptian women still struggle for such basic human rights as education and the avoidance of compulsory marriage, GIRLS STILL DREAM highlights the cultural clash between traditional values and young women's growing self-awareness in the developing world.
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Conversations Across the Bosphorous

CONVERSATIONS ACROSS THE BOSPHOROUS intertwines the stories of two Muslim women from Istanbul - Gokcen, from an orthodox Islamic family who takes off her veil after years of struggle; and Mine, from a secular family, who discovers her faith living as an immigrant in San Francisco. Both women demonstrate how their relationship to their faith has shaped and determined their personal lives. Combining evocative visual imagery with poetic and lively debate, CONVERSATIONS ACROSS THE BOSPHOROUS provides a deeper understanding of Turkish society and the current tensions between fundamentalist and secular forces.
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The Veiled Hope

THE VEILED HOPE explores the personal and political challenges facing Palestinian women through a series of wonderful portraits of women living on the Gaza and West Bank. The women explain how in their daily lives as doctors, schoolteachers and activists they are working to rebuild Palestinian cultural identity. They also provide a rare insight into the complex feelings women have surrounding the emergence of political Islamic movements. THE VEILED HOPE gives an in-depth analysis of the position of Palestinian women as they juggle women’s and national liberation struggles.
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Lebanon: Bits and Pieces

LEBANON: BITS AND PIECES is an exquisitely beautiful and profoundly moving exploration of the myths and realities of present-day Lebanon, as reflected through the voices of women. During Olga Naccache's childhood, Lebanon was known to the outside world as an exemplary model of peace in the heart of an Arab Middle East dominated by dictators. Following a seven year absence, Naccache returned to Lebanon with a camera to record the dreams, disappointments and worries of women of her own generation and to meet a younger generation of women whose only memory is that of war. Through these voices, Naccache’s own voyage of rediscovery is revealed — rediscovery of her country and of herself.
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Algeria: Women At War

ALGERIA: WOMEN AT WAR offers a rare insight into the key role Algerian women played in their country’s liberation struggle from the French thirty years ago and their equally important place in today’s politics. Produced for Channel Four Television, this high-quality documentary uses a combination of interviews and archival footage to ponder the position of women in Algeria in the light of thirty years of single party rule, the rise of Islam and increasing political violence. It raises critical questions about the balancing act between women’s and national liberation struggles.
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The Women Next Door

THE WOMEN NEXT DOOR is a thoughtful and emotive documentary about women in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Israeli director Michal Aviad was living in the United States when the Intifada broke out in the West Bank and Gaza. Filled with questions about how the Occupation affected women on both sides of the conflict she set off in a journey through Israel and the Occupied Territories with two other women -- a Palestinian assistant director and an Israeli cinematographer. The film explores the roles that the Occupation designated for women on both sides and the questions it raises. In a world of occupation, what is the meaning of femininity, motherhood, birth, violence, compassion and solidarity between women? Can the womanhood of Israelis and Palestinians be separated from their political reality? The women next door are the women on either side of the border, as well as, those who face the camera and those who stand behind it. THE WOMEN NEXT DOOR provides a unique perspective on women’s lives in the Middle East and the critical part they play in rebuilding societies ravaged by war.
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Hidden Faces

Originally intended as a film about internationally renowned feminist writer Nawal El Saadawi, HIDDEN FACES develops into a fascinating portrayal of Egyptian women’s lives in Muslim society. In this collaborative documentary, Safaa Fathay, a young Egyptian woman living in Paris, returns home to interview the famed writer and activist, but becomes disillusioned with her. Illuminated by passages from El Saadawi’s work, the film follows Fathay’s journey to her family home and discovers similar complex frictions between modernity and tradition. Her mother’s decision to return to the veil after twenty years and her cousins’ clitoridectomies reveal a disturbing renewal of fundamentalism. This absorbing documentary broaches the contradictions of feminism in a Muslim environment; a startling, unforgettable picture of contemporary women in the Arab world.
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A State of Danger

Shot in Israel and the Occupied Territories, this extraordinary documentary offers a unique, vital perspective on the Intifada seldom seen in U.S. mainstream media. Produced for the BBC, A State of Danger gives voice to Palestinian and Israeli peace activists, most of them women. Chilling testimonies to Israeli police brutality are supplemented by interviews with Israelis who support Palestinian self-determination. A STATE OF DANGER is a compelling, timely documentary that examines grassroots support, human rights and the role of Arab and Jewish women in bringing peace to the region.
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Beirut: The Last Home Movie

BEIRUT: THE LAST HOME MOVIE is an imaginative film which challenges documentary form and concepts of reality by exposing a personal response to a global event—three months in the life of a Lebanese family living in a heavily-bombed Beirut neighborhood. This extraordinary film captures the real-life experiences of a family living in one of the most chaotic wars in history and provides insight into the psychology of war, 20th century-style. It also reveals the power of cinema verité at its best: a seemingly simple recording of everyday life becomes a fascinating, complex and many-layered look at the connections between personal and political lives.
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Measures of Distance

In this resonant work, Palestinian-born video and performance artist Mona Hatoum explores the renewal of friendship between mother and daughter during a brief family reunion in war-torn Lebanon in 1981. Through letters read in voice-over and Arabic script overlaying the images, the viewer experiences the silence and isolation imposed by war. The politics of the family and the exile of the Palestinian people are inseparable in this forceful, moving film.
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La Nouba des Femmes du Mont-Chenoua

Finally available in the United States, this classic film from acclaimed novelist and filmmaker Assia Djebar is essential viewing for an understanding of women in Algeria. Taking its title and structure from the “Nouba," a traditional song of five movements, this haunting film mingles narrative and documentary styles to document the creation of women’s personal and cultural histories. Returning to her native region 15 years after the end of the Algerian war, Lila is obsessed by memories of the war for independence that defined her childhood. In dialogue with other Algerian women, she reflects on the differences between her life and theirs. In lyrical footage she contemplates the power of grandmothers who pass down traditions of anti-colonial resistance to their heirs. Reading the history of her country as written in the stories of women’s lives, Assia Djebar’s LA NOUBA DES FEMMES DU MONT-CHENOUA is an engrossing portrait of speech and silence, memory and creation, and a tradition where the past and present coexist. Widely hailed as one of the most important figures in francophone Maghrebian literature, Djebar is the author of more than a dozen books, including A SISTER TO SCHEHEREZADE and WOMEN OF ALGIERS IN THEIR APARTMENT. She is currently Professor and Director of the Center for French and Francophone Studies at the Louisiana State University.
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