Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Muslim perspectives examined through on-campus film series

by Dena Popova

In the past years there has been some prejudiced misunderstanding of Muslim art. It has been left with a mystical, but at the same time stereotypical, understanding. It is mainly affected by such examples as “Thousand and One Nights” and “Aladdin,” and the impression they have left in mainstream culture. There is a need for update.

The Muslim world is not a figurative term referring to the distant lands far in the East. Instead, it consists of about 50 countries, from Morocco to Indonesia to Britain, which are all different from one another and at the same time all related in terms of the same religion.

This semester, as a component of the course Muslim Worlds: A Literary and Cinematic Exploration, every Tuesday at 7 p.m. there will be a series of film screenings. Professor Susan Schomburg said, “This film series is intended as an educational opportunity, enabling viewers to encounter fresh perspectives on Islam, Islamic societies and Islamic creativity today, perspectives rarely engaged by mainstream U.S. media.” These films are contemporary tales that show the place of religion in the everyday life. Professor Schomburg added that “these films also present a diverse spectrum of Muslim perspectives: those of women and men, adults and children, homosexuals and heterosexuals, socio-economic elites and subalterns, urbanites and rural village dwellers.”

On Jan. 23, the first screening from the film series took place in Olin 157. Every Tuesday through May 1 there will be a screening of a movie from the Muslim world. The films are open to the public and include English subtitles.

The opening film was the Hollywood epic-style interpretation of the founding of Islam and the life of the early Muslim community. “The Message,” made in 1976, was the first feature film of the Syrian emigrant to the U.S., Moustapha Akkad. Five years later, he made another feature movie, “Lion of the desert,” starring Anthony Quinn in the main role. These two films gave him international recognition from film critiques, but what he is most popular for in the U.S. is the Halloween series that he directed from 1978 until 2002.

Among the movies to be shown is “Ali Zaoua,” directed by the Moroccan Nabil Ayouch. This film features a cast that includes real street children. The list of screenings includes two films of Iraninan Majid Majidi, considered to be one of the most notable contemporary directors. His “Rang-e Khoda” (“The Color of Paradise”) and “Baran” (“Rain”) present a touching point of view about human fragility and the delicate place of religion in life. Another Iranian movie is Kamal Tabrizi’s Marmulak (“The Lizard”), which presents a humorous view of religious orthodoxies and popular credulity. Other films scheduled include “Xala” (“The Curse”), Senegal; “Garam Hawa” (“Hot Winds”), India; “My Son the Fanatic,” United Kingdom; and “Surviving Sabu,” United Kingdom.

Professor Schomburg also invites all the viewers who attend the screenings to stay for the discussions immediately following the films.

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