A Flash of Lightning: “Bijli”

The film “Bijli” opens with an off-key rendition of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s haunting Sanu Ik Pal Chain Na Aave.  The poetry of the song describes a man who cannot find a moment’s peace without his beloved.  Some might consider this analogous to Bijli’s predicament as a woman trapped in a man’s body: constantly ill at ease without his other “half.”  Bijli is Fayaaz, the drag alter ego of this Pakistani-born dancer, who presently resides in New York City.This short film by filmmaker Adnan Malik … [Read more...]

The Women’s Voices Now Film Festival

Women's Voices Now is a non-profit organization that was founded in January 2010 and is based in New York City. Their mission is to "empower women and give voice to the struggle for civil, economic and political rights."Currently, they're accepting submissions for a film festival, "Women's Voices from the Muslim World: A Short-Film Festival." Regular submissions close November 1, 2010, but some short films are already up at the website.Here's one of the films, named "Girl's Talk:"Check … [Read more...]

Swimming Against the Current: A Look At Nia Dinata via Dispatches

CBC radio's weekly documentary program, Dispatches, recently ran a documentary by Natasha Fatah on Nia Dinata, one of Indonesia's best known film directors. In the documentary, entitled Cinema, censorship and sex, Fatah speaks with the internationally acclaimed director about her latest film, Chants of Lotus, as well as her experiences with film making in Indonesia.The documentary begins at the national premier of Chants of Lotus at a cinema in a high-end mall in Jakarta. The film itself is, … [Read more...]

Slumdog Millionaire: Muslimah As Princess

Spoiler alert: this post discusses important plot points.This past weekend I finally went to see Slumdog Millionaire. I have to admit that I loved the film and Jamal's rags-to -riches tale. The film has a fairytale bent that makes it likable (who doesn't like for the beat up hero to overcome and be happy in the end?) and at the same time problematic. However, the issue isn't with the main protagonist Jamal. In fact, he shows a strength, kindness and humanity that is almost superhuman. Plus, … [Read more...]

Unexpected sexualities: the sexual limits and transgressions of Muslim women in film

This was written by Cycads and originally published at her blog.Come into my parlour: A scene from Nadine Labaki's 'Caramel' (2007)The depiction of liberal Muslim women in film is a moment made of groundbreaking stuff. In a time where the veil is a symbol of subjugation, films about Muslim women like ‘Caramel' (2007) by Nadine Labaki*, with a narrative composed of universal themes like love and sex can stunningly shatter stereotypes. It is an anomaly amongst the more mainstream media i … [Read more...]

Unveiled: Hollywood’s Orientalist Fantasy

Guess what? Hollywood is making a film with a female Muslim protagonist! Yes, that's right. A female Muslim protagonist. The main character in the film is a Muslim woman. For the first time. And what is the name of the film, you may ask? Guess. Just take a quick guess. What's that? Did you say the word 'veil'? Very close! It's called Unveiled. Is that a surprise? Well, the fact that the film's main character is a Muslim woman may be, but the name, not so much, considering the main character is a … [Read more...]