Films: Woman in Islam

SUBMISSION Directed by Theo van Gogh and Ayaan Hirsi Ali

The film seeks to expose the abuses of women in Islamic and Arab countries. It is a stylistic film with heavy and deliberate cuts. With every cut there is the whiplash sound effect. It consists of a few short monologues by women whose heads are veiled, but the rest of their bodies are covered only by thin black lace. Verses of the Quran pertaining to adultery are traced onto their semi-nude forms.

BBC 2 November, 2004 Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh has been stabbed and shot dead in Amsterdam, Dutch police say. Police arrested a man in a nearby park after an exchange of gunfire. The man, aged 26, had joint Dutch and Moroccan nationality, they said. Van Gogh, 47, had received death threats after his film Submission was shown on Dutch TV. It portrayed violence against women in Islamic societies. The film was made with liberal Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali refugee who fled an arranged marriage. Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been under police protection since the film was aired. She has also received death threats and has renounced the Islamic faith.

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PASSION Director: Mohamed Malas

Passion is a tragic tale of honour killing, based on the little known about the real woman who died, whose death was deemed worthy of a mere snippet in the newspaper. The film's director, Mohamed Malas, had to shoot his film in Paris, because the Syrian government wouldn't let him shoot there. The film has been banned in Syria as well, so it won't be seen there, either. Writer-director Malas was inspired to write the film after reading a snippet in a Syrian paper about a woman who was slain by her uncle, two cousins and two brothers in an "honor killing" because she had developed a passion for the songs of Egyptian singer Oum Kalsoum. Passion tells the tale of Imane, a 30-something woman from a traditional Muslim family who married the man she loved against the wishes of her family, who wanted her to wed her cousin.


KANDAHAR Written and directed by: Mohsen Makhmalbaf.
Cast: Niloufar Pazira, Hassan Tantai, Sadou Teymouri.

This film is an unblinking glimpse into the hardships of life in Afghanistan, and the difficult odyssey of one woman in particular. Inspired by a true story, "Kandahar" tells the story of Nafas (Nelofer Pazira) an Afghani woman who has been living in Canada and working as a journalist when she recieves a disturbing letter from her sister, who has remained in Afghanistan.

Her sister, who has been maimed by a land mine, writes of the oppressive treatment of women and says that she will commit suicide when the next eclipse happens. With only three days until the eclipse, Nafas attemps to travel to Kandahar, a difficult undertaking in a country where women are forbidden to travel alone and are forced to wear the head-to-toe burkha.



Marina Golbahari, Arif Herati, Zubaida Sahar
Director: Siddiq Barmak

It's fair to say that Osama may offer the most honest and straightforward cinematic portrayal of life in Afghanistan during the rule of the Taliban. The film's authenticity derives from its having been shot in Kabul (post-Taliban), so there's no need for another country to act as a stand-in. Director Siddiq Barmak recruited his non-professional cast, including impressive lead actress Marina Golbahari, from orphanages and refugee camps, further adding to the "you are there" feeling that pervades the production.

The story is simple, yet painfully tragic. Golbhari plays the 12-year old daughter of a widowed Afghan doctor (Zubaida Sahar) who is forced to stop working when the Taliban come into power. Left without a means of income, the mother dresses up her daughter as a boy and sends her out to work. Renamed "Osama," the child, on the cusp of puberty, ends up being pressed into a military training school, where she is ruthlessly bullied by the boys because of her feminine features. Yet Osama cannot reveal the truth about herself, since the punishment for impersonating a boy could be death.