Friday, February 29, 2008

Online Islamic film festival, "The Muslim-American Experience"

There is a Muslim-American film festival online, called "The Muslim-American Experience". The basic link is here. The link for the winners is here.

Brigid Schulte has a story about it on p B1, Metro of the Feb. 29 Washington Post, “Filmmakers focused on faith: Movie festival challenges Muslim stereotypes and puts spotlight on diversity,” link here.

All of the films are shorts, most under six minutes. The theme is “stories, not stereotypes.”

The winner was “A Land Called Paradise,” directed by Lena Khan, with Kareem Salame. 2000 Muslims were asked what they would say, and much of their messages are on posters, to lilting music. One person mentioned that some Muslims were once slaves, another mentioned that her sister died in the 9/11 attacks, and another made a joke about Justin Timberlake. The film emphasized that Islam sponsors charity programs and emphasizes sharing with the poor and outlaws interest or usury.

Lena Khan also directed “Sleeper Cell,” a spoof in film noir style where an agent spies on the home of a Muslim suspected of running a cell, and even finds boxcutters. The film opens in black and white and changes to color when the real person shows up.

Lena also directed “Bassem is Trying,” the best one-minute film, where a hapless man tries to prove himself.

The best animated film was “Arranged,” by Mediha Sandhu, where the narrator parodies the norms of some Muslim families with arranged marriages and the demands that women fit into certain norms. The animation fills in the figures as if being colored.

The best documentary was “Healing our Community” by Sharif Rosen, about the UMMA community clinic in Los Angeles, established in 1996.

The best comedy was “Muslim While Flying” by Baba Ali (Ummah films), a spoof where the speaker (on camera most of the time) makes fun of the extra scrutiny Muslims get when flying.

The best drama was “Glimpse” by Qasir Q Basim, where Muslim parents have different vantage points: the father talks about discipline and obedience to Allah, and the mother talks about values, and the kids have to figure this out.

The best film by someone under 18 was "The Countdown", directed by Rene Dongo, narrated by Sofia Snow, who stands on a tenement rooftop in Boston and shows the city from which the hijackers took off on 9/11, and remembers that day. The film sometimes shows the sky with shots of contrails from jets.

"The Children of Adam", by Nina Pari Aghabeikzadeh, shows a young women going to Iran to spend a year, and finding the spectacular country much more livable than she had expected. She describes how the FBI chased her father for writing Islamic poems and how they seize his computer, all right after 9/11.

"21", by Laura Plotkin, in black and white, shows an American born woman describing attacks on her by other Americans because of stereotyping.

"Ordinary People", by Sufe Bradshaw, depicts Muslim artists, including a guitar musician, trying to communicate a message of tolerance and love.

"A USA Patriot Act Story", by Kellie Hiynh, from MAS Media and Inland Empire, shows ordinary Muslim men being spied on in libraries, even in shower stalls when lathering.

"A Question of Race in Islam", by Laylaa Abdul-Khabir, presents a college student in California, half Chinese and half African American and raises as a Muslim. The film points out that there are more Muslims in both Indonesia and China than in Saudi Arabia.

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