Timbuktu: A Film Review


A few months ago I watched Abderrahmane Sisako’s Timbuktu, as part of a retrospective of Sissako’s work at the Walker Art Museum.It stunned me at the time—the film examines how daily life changes in a Malian community where an al-Qaeda group has taken over. While the film focuses primarily on a young family’s tribulations when a murder is committed, the film explores how mundane, everyday situations under ordinary circumstances can suddenly become a minefield when the new impositions are not … [Read more...]

Review of Desert Dancer (2015)


Six years ago I attended a contemporary dance workshop, and while I’ve been dancing for most of my life, what struck me most was one improvisation that involved dancing as if you were the furniture in your room. When we had come up with a sequence of movements representing various wardrobes, nightstands, mirrors, beds and tables, we had to then dance it while interpreting the concept of fear.I was thinking about this workshop as I watched Desert Dancer (2015) by Richard Raymond. The film is p … [Read more...]

“Amira & Sam” and the Hijab


The issue of stereotyping Muslims has been controversial throughout Hollywood’s history, and looking at American films and TV in general, we can see that Muslim men (usually represented as dark skinned, bearded, and speaking broken English) have almost invariably placed the "bad people category." Nick Recktenwald, from The Mic comments on this here: In general, Muslims in Hollywood cinema exist as one-dimensional characters: ignorant menaces hell-bent on kidnapping or killing as many Westerners … [Read more...]

On Hany Abu Asad’s Omar and the “Missing Voice” of Women


Hany Abu-Assad’s film Omar (2013) has been described as “a film about love in the face of grueling adversity,” with the various obstacles facing the young couple symbolized by the very literal obstacle of the separation wall  that meanders into the West Bank, cutting off Palestinian areas from each other. Omar routinely scales the wall to meet up with Nadja, but as Abu Assad puts it in an interview: “This is the outside obstacle, because the inside obstacle between the two lovers is trust.” … [Read more...]

Dance Is How I Get Close to God: An Interview with Dancer and Upcoming Actress Isha Farha


Born into a family where art is a compulsion, Isha Farha started learning dance at the age of three from her mother, Kalamandalam Haseena. She is now adept in various Indian dance forms, including Bharathnatayam , Mohiniyattam, and Kuchipudi. She won the title of Kalathilakam in 2008 for excellence in the field of Bharathnatyam, Mohiniyattam, Kuchipudy, folkdance, one-act play and storytelling. She is the founder of the dance teaching institute Bharatha Bharathi.An engineer by profession, … [Read more...]

Between Sainu and Shahina: A character sketch of two Muslim women characters in Indian Cinema


With the recent controversy surrounding  Arabi Kalayanam (the term used to describe the practice of marrying  young girls from Kerala, India to Arab men for a lesser dowry), and legalizing marriage for Muslim girls younger than 18 years of age, I was reminded of T.V Chandran’s 2003 movie, Padam Onnu Oru Vilapam (Chapter One: A Wail). It is probably the only Malayalam movie which dives deeply into the multiple social evils that are still prevalent among Muslims in the Malabar community of Ker … [Read more...]

“Torn”: A Tale of Tolerance and Doubt

Scene from the movie Torn.

After reading the synopsis of Torn , a film written by Michael Richter and directed by Jeremiah Birnbaum, I thought: Oooh, this might be yet another film on the post 9/11 era, blaming the Muslim community for all evil things that happened, and echoing  all sorts of stereotypes that have defined America’s perceptions of Muslims around the world.But Richter and Birnbaum proved me wrong. After watching Torn, I believe cinema can still surprise us with bold ideas and out-of-the-box un … [Read more...]