17 September 2011
A Palestinian exile’s return home and the temptations of a deeply devout Muslim are two of the stories depicted in a new film season beginning in London next week.
Winds of Change: Cinema from Muslim Societies aims to challenge the “highly distortive stereotypes [of Muslims] often seen in Western news journalism” and take forward discussion since the Arab Spring, say organisers of the season, to be held at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA).
The mixture of documentary and fiction films, new and old, cover civic freedom, human rights, gender and social equality the challenges of modernity and the place of religion within social structures.
Almost 10 per cent of London’s population identify themselves as Muslim according to updated census figures and Haim Bresheeth, co-curator of the season feels this makes the city “an excellent setting” for the event.
“We’ve had 10 years of Islamophobia in the west but especially in London,” he says.
“The current government and the one before have done very little to counter it or even shed it, and we are trying to take this on. London is a big Muslim city.”
One of the films to be shown – Microphone – was completed just as the Arab Spring in Tunisia and Egypt began and sees its young protagonist return to Egypt from the U.S. to join the youth movement for change. Another, The Green Wave is a documentary compiling shocking, moving accounts of demonstrators caught up in Iran’s 2010 Green Revolution.
The film season also re-introduces classics such as 1977’s Ceddo by Senegalese director Ousmane Sembène about the struggle of indigenous African culture “against the double onslaught of Christianity and Islam”.
Also Tunisian director, Moufida Tlatli’s Les Silences du Palais from 1994 which follows a young girl’s return to the palace where her mother has worked her whole life. The palace still practices droit du seigneur – the old code where the master of a considerable estate is given the right to take the virginity of his workers’ young daughters.
The inclusion of both these classics indicates issues that need readdressing after the Arab Spring but also highlight filmmaking's long history in Muslim societies as a vehicle for fighting for democracy.
Winds of Change opens on Wednesday 21 September with a debate tiled “Is There A Muslim World?” which questions whether a singular, homogenous Muslim global phenomenon exists.
Winds of Change: Cinema from Muslim Societies is taking place at the Institute of Contemporary Arts from Wednesday 21st to Sunday 25th September 2011. Book online at www.ica.org.uk. Call Box Office 020 7930 3647