I Am the Revolution

I AM THE REVOLUTION is an empowering portrait of three determined women in the Middle East who are leading the fight for gender equality and freedom. Politician Selay Ghaffar is one of the most wanted people in the world by the Taliban and yet she still travels through Afghanistan to educate other women about their rights. Rojda Felat is a commander of the Syrian Democratic Army, leading 60,000 troops to defeat ISIS, including freeing their hold on Raqqa and rescuing its people. And Yanar Mohammed, named by the BBC as one of 100 most influential women in the world in 2018, pushes for parliamentary reform in Iraq while running shelters for abused women. Despite battling seemingly overwhelming obstacles, all three women display resilience, bravery and compassion. I AM THE REVOLUTION challenges the images of veiled, silent women in the Middle East and instead reveals the extraordinary strength of women rising up on the front lines to claim their voice and their rights.
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The Feeling of Being Watched

In the Arab-American neighborhood outside of Chicago where journalist and filmmaker Assia Boundaoui grew up, most of her neighbors think they have been under surveillance for over a decade. While investigating their experiences, Assia uncovers tens of thousands of pages of FBI documents that prove her hometown was the subject of one of the largest counter terrorism investigations ever conducted in the U.S. before 9/11, code-named "Operation Vulgar Betrayal." With unprecedented access, THE FEELING OF BEING WATCHED weaves the personal and the political as it follows the filmmaker’s examination of why her community-including her own family-fell under blanket government surveillance. Assia struggles to disrupt the government secrecy shrouding what happened and takes the FBI to federal court to compel them to make the records they collected about her community public. In the process, she confronts long-hidden truths about the FBI’s relationship to her community. THE FEELING OF BEING WATCHED follows Assia as she pieces together this secret FBI operation, while grappling with the effects of a lifetime of surveillance on herself and her family.
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Azmaish: A Journey Through the Subcontinent

Pakistani filmmaker Sabiha Sumar’s inspiring and probing documentary explores the complex relationship between India and her native country. Traveling the two nations, Sumar and Indian actress Kalki Koechlin witness radically changing political landscapes, their encounters giving rise to a personal and poetic search to uncover the voices of the silent majority, particularly those of women. At home, Sumar has candid interviews with Pakistanis from different classes and regions, conversations where she is often the lone woman at the table. In India, Sumar and Koechlin speak with political figures and ordinary people, examining the rise of Hindu fundamentalism. As they despair at the decline of secular thought and the narrowing of expression they see in both nations, they also uncover the shared humanity beyond the divisive political rhetoric. As nationalism surges in the U.S. and around the globe, AZMAISH is a valuable tool for sparking classroom conversations about intolerance, and also serves as an excellent primer for Americans on the India/Pakistan conflict from a woman’s perspective.
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Breaking Silence

Three Muslim women share their stories of sexual assault—and, in a deeply personal way, they challenge the stigma that has long suppressed the voice of survivors. Throughout America, many Muslim communities persist in stigmatizing all discussion of sex-related subjects. Even though sexual assault and abuse are widespread, conversations about it are rare—and the pressure for victims and their families to “keep it a secret” helps perpetuate abuse. BREAKING SILENCE takes a radical and humanizing approach to the emotional scars of sexual assault, giving women the space to share their voices without shame. Deepened by the perspectives of Imam Khalid Latif of The Islamic Center at NYU, the film challenges stereotypes and cultural beliefs held by both Muslims and the non-Muslim public. It is indispensable for those dealing with sexual assault and abuse in academic and non- academic settings, courses on Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies and Women’s Studies, and for any discussion of violence against women.
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Girls' War

As the forces of ISIS and Assad tear through villages and society in Syria and Northern Iraq, a group of brave and idealistic women are taking up arms against them—and winning inspiring victories. Members of “The Free Women’s Party” come from Paris, Turkish Kurdistan, and other parts of the world. Their dream: To create a Democratic Syria, and a society based on gender equality. Guns in hand, these women are carrying on a movement with roots that run 40 years deep in the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey. GIRL’S WAR honors the legacy of Sakine Cansiz, co-founder of the PKK who was assassinated in Paris in 2013, and reflects on the sacrifices made by all of the women in the movement, who have endured jail, rape, war, and persecution in their quest to liberate their lives and sisters from male dominance. With scenes of solidarity, strength, and love amongst these brave women soldiers, GIRL'S WAR is a surprising story of Middle Eastern feminism on the front lines.
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Nada's Revolution

A coming of age story in the wake of the Arab Spring, NADA’S REVOLUTION is an intimate portrait of a young, post-revolution Egyptian woman fighting for her freedom and independence in a society caught between old traditions and modernization. Amidst the political turmoil that has paralyzed Egypt for almost three years, we follow Nada’s struggle to establish herself as an independent woman and theater professional as she sets out to make her old dream come true: to work with children’s theater. When the revolution broke out in 2011, Nada–like many other young women–was full of energy and hope. But in the aftermath of the revolution and when the election of President Morsi further pushes the country into political turmoil, the situation appears hopeless. Nada is confronted with the question of how to stay true to her own dreams, while conservative ideas about gender roles and women’s freedom are hard to change. Nada’s fight is not over.
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Feminism Inshallah: A History Of Arab Feminism

The struggle for Muslim women’s emancipation is often portrayed stereotypically as a showdown between Western and Islamic values, but Arab feminism has existed for more than a century. This groundbreaking documentary recounts Arab feminism’s largely unknown story, from its taboo-shattering birth in Egypt by feminist pioneers up through viral Internet campaigns by today’s tech-savvy young activists during the Arab Spring. Moving from Tunisia to Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, filmmaker and author Feriel Ben Mahmoud tracks the progress of Arab women in their long march to assert their full rights and achieve empowerment. Featuring previously unreleased archival footage and exclusive multigenerational interviews, FEMINISM INSHALLAH is an indispensable resource for Women’s Studies, Global Feminism, Middle East and Islamic Studies.
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Casablanca Calling

As political conflict and change sweep the Arab world, CASABLANCA CALLING highlights a quiet social revolution under way in Morocco, where 60% of the women have never attended school. For the first time, Moroccan women are trained and employed as official Muslim leaders or morchidat. Charged with teaching an Islam based on tolerance, compassion and equality, they provide vital support and guidance to communities, especially to girls and women. At the film’s heart are Hannane, Bouchra and Karima, three morchidat assigned to mosques in different parts of Morocco. CASABLANCA CALLING follows them for a year on rounds to schools and other sites to provide advice on marriage and employment; champion education for girls and women; caution against early marriage; and help resolve personal problems. Offering unique access to a story we rarely see, this illuminating documentary demonstrates how women’s empowerment through moderate Islam is transforming a nation.
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Kismet

Wildly popular at home, Turkish soap operas have taken the world by storm with more than 300 million viewers in 80 countries across the Middle East, North Africa, the Balkans, and Asia. With unprecedented access, KISMET delves into this phenomenon, weaving together excerpts from the major shows including interviews with their talent and the writers, producers and directors behind the scenes—primarily made up of women—and portraits of the everyday viewers in Turkey, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bulgaria, and Greece. Exploring how the serials captivate, inspire and empower women, the film reveals how the soaps impact and break down negative stereotypes and traditional taboos. The soaps openly discuss rape, sexual and domestic violence, child and arranged marriages, and honor killings while also sparking change in gender relationships, activism against sexual abuse, and a wave of divorce across the Middle East. Invaluable for studies in media and popular culture, KISMET discloses how profoundly Turkish soaps penetrate viewers’ social and religious realities while empowering and helping women to transform their lives and strengthen the debate about women’s rights across the region.
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My Stolen Revolution

A student activist in Iran’s 1979 revolution that overthrew the dictatorial Shah, Nahid Persson Sarvestani fled to Sweden with her baby after Islamists seized power and began persecuting leftists who had been their revolutionary allies. Three decades later, events in Iran inspire Nahid to revisit that part of her life. Prompted by brutal crackdowns on anti-government protests in 2009 and long-suppressed guilt for abandoning a younger brother to imprisonment and death, the internationally acclaimed filmmaker locates and reunites with five female activists who survived torture and terror in the Islamist regime’s jails. Now living in exile, the women share gripping accounts of how their jailers tried to break them physically and spiritually, and describe what sustained them during these horrible ordeals. With the support of these stalwart survivors, Sarvestani finds answers to haunting questions about her brother’s last days. Shifting skillfully between past and present, this deeply personal documentary is an essential resource for understanding Iran today.
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Camera/Woman

Working as a videographer at weddings in Casablanca, Khadija Harrad is part of the new generation of young, divorced Moroccan women seeking to realize their desires for freedom and independence while honoring their families' wishes. Mother of an 11-year-old son and primary breadwinner for her parents and siblings as well, she navigates daily between the elaborate fantasy world of the parties she films and harassment from her traditionally conservative family, which disapproves of her occupation and wants her only to remarry. CAMERA/WOMAN, shot in vérité style, follows Khadija on the job, at home, and with supportive women friends who are divorced and share similar experiences. As it unveils the issues that confront working-class Muslim women in societies now undergoing profound change, this arresting film reveals that for Khadija, unbowed in the face of overwhelming odds, the camera becomes a liberating force.
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Invoking Justice

In Southern India, family disputes are settled by Jamaats—all male bodies which apply Islamic Sharia law to cases without allowing women to be present, even to defend themselves. Recognizing this fundamental inequity, a group of women in 2004 established a women’s Jamaat, which soon became a network of 12,000 members spread over 12 districts. Despite enormous resistance, they have been able to settle more than 8,000 cases to date, ranging from divorce to wife beating to brutal murders and more. Award-winning filmmaker Deepa Dhanraj (SOMETHING LIKE A WAR) follows several cases, shining a light on how the women’s Jamaat has acquired power through both communal education and the leaders’ persistent, tenacious and compassionate investigation of the crimes. In astonishing scenes we watch the Jamaat meetings, where women often shout over each other about the most difficult facets of their personal lives. Above all, the women’s Jamaat exists to hold their male counterparts and local police to account, and to reform a profoundly corrupt system which allows men to take refuge in the most extreme interpretation of the Qur’an to justify violence towards women.
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In the Name of the Family

Schoolgirl Aqsa Parvez, sisters Amina and Sarah Said, and college student Fauzia Muhammad were all North American teenagers—and victims of premeditated, murderous attacks by male family members. Only Muhammad survived. Emmy® winner Shelley Saywell examines each case in depth in this riveting investigation of "honor killings" of girls in Muslim immigrant families. Not sanctioned by Islam, the brutalization and violence against young women for defying male authority derives from ancient tribal notions of honor and family shame. As friends and relatives trace escalating tensions leading to the crimes, IN THE NAME OF THE FAMILY explores community reactions to the tragic events. The film also delves into the dual, precarious existence of other young Muslim women struggling to bridge two worlds, along with Muslim women’s efforts to help girls at special risk. With consummate documentary skills and a passion for human rights, Saywell puts a much needed human face on a subject that is all too often silenced or sensationalized in post-9/11 North America.
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The Mosque in Morgantown

THE MOSQUE IN MORGANTOWN follows one woman’s campaign for change against extremism in her West Virginia mosque, throwing the community into turmoil and raising questions that cut to the heart of American Islam. When former Wall Street Journal journalist and single mother Asra Q. Nomani returns from working in Pakistan to her hometown mosque in Morgantown, West Virginia, she believes she sees signs of trouble: exclusion of women, intolerance toward non-believers, and suspicion of the West. She finds such signs particularly alarming and determined to halt the ‘slippery slope’ that she maintains leads from Islamic intolerance to violence, she begins a campaign to drag the mosque’s practices into the 21st century, triggering a heated battle between tradition and modernity. Nomani’s activist tactics alienate would-be allies in the mosque, leading many to wonder who most deserves the label of “extremist.” Director Brittany Huckabee takes a balanced view of the tensions dividing this community, exploring both sides from a neutral standpoint. This riveting Emmy® Award nominated film is not only about women’s rights in the mosque but about the struggles of a Muslim community faces as it strives to be a part of American life.
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Mother, Lebanon & Me

A visually striking meditation on loss and a perceptive political critique, this deeply personal work has two subjects: filmmaker Olga Naccache’s ailing mother and the chaotic country where Naccache was raised. Both fell sick in 1975, the onset of incurable depression for one and a bloody civil war ushering in deep divisions for the other. In this sequel to LEBANON: BITS AND PIECES (1994), Naccache ponders the plight of the country she clearly loves while honoring the mother dear to her. Her montage draws on conversations with Naccache's mother toward the end of life, along with footage of this beautiful, accomplished woman and ardent secularist in more physically robust times. Stunning scenes of tranquil Beirut and southern Lebanon contrast with close-ups of a nation under siege from within and abroad. Recent interviews with two longtime friends—a leftist teacher of philosophy in a Christian village school and a Shiite Muslim viewing Hezbollah as Lebanon’s only hope—raise crucial questions about the nation’s identity and precarious future.
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Dinner with the President

When Pakistani filmmaker Sabiha Sumar and co-director Sachithanandam Sathananthan request a dinner with President Musharraf as he’s facing impeachment charges in 2007, to their surprise the request is granted. They engage him in an enlightening discussion about the past and his vision for the country. Going beyond the dinner table, the filmmakers interview a wide range of Pakistanis including religious fundamentalists and young beach partiers about issues such as the role of women in politics and the meaning of democracy. The conversations reveal a nation full of contradictions, where ethnic and tribal loyalties struggle against modernization. DINNER WITH THE PRESIDENT asks audiences to rethink conventional Western wisdom about individual rights, power, and political process.
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The Noble Struggle of Amina Wadud

On March 18, 2005, Amina Wadud shocked the Islamic world by leading a mixed-gender Friday prayer congregation in New York. THE NOBLE STRUGGLE OF AMINA WADUD is a fascinating and powerful portrait of this African-American Muslim woman who soon found herself the subject of much debate and Muslim juristic discourse. In defying 1400 years of Islamic tradition, her action caused global awareness of the struggle for women’s rights within Islam but also brought violence and death threats against her. Filmmaker Safari follows this women’s rights activist and scholar around the world as she quietly but with utter conviction explains her analysis of Islam in the classroom, at conferences, in her home, and in the hair dresser’s shop. Wadud explains how Islam, with its promise of justice, appeals to the African American community. And she links the struggle for racial justice with the need for gender equality in Islam. Deeply engaging, this film offers rare insights into the powerful connections between Islam, women’s rights, and racial justice.
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Linda & Ali

LINDA AND ALI provides a nuanced and intimate look into the life of a traditional Muslim family in Doha, Qatar. But Linda and Ali’s 20-year marriage is far from traditional. Linda was brought up Catholic in Arizona and met Ali – a Shiite Muslim from Qatar – at college in the 1980’s. Shot during the American invasion of Iraq, this poignant film shows how Linda and Ali struggle to surmount their cultural differences while raising their seven children in a lively, loving home. Unlike many foreign wives, Linda adopted the Shiite Muslim traditions of her husband, and swathed in black, she looks like any other Qatari woman. Within the four walls of their comfortable home, however, Western and Middle Eastern ideals, ethics and attitudes often collide. Linda enrolls her daughters in gymnastics classes, clashing with local morals, but she has yet to convince the girls that a “love marriage” such as hers is preferable to an arranged marriage. Filmmaker Lut Vandekeybus hones in on surprising and candid family discussions about issues such as second wives, religion and Qatari society in general, painting a fascinating portrait of a family living at the complex intersection of gender roles, nationality and religion. For two years, Vandekeybus was given extraordinary access to a culture rarely open to outsiders, and the resulting film offers viewers a unique opportunity to view Muslim culture through Linda’s eyes and counteract the often distorted images of Islamic culture and Muslim people provided by the mainstream media
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For a Place Under the Heavens

Acclaimed director Sabiha Sumar, recent winner of the Golden Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival for her feature Silent Waters, offers an insightful perspective on Pakistan in this finely crafted personal film. Beginning with the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Sumar traces the relationship of Islam to the state in an effort to understand how women are coping with and surviving the increasing religiosity of civil and political life in her country. Raised in a more secular time, she struggles to comprehend how religious schools have expanded at once unthinkable rates and presents chilling footage of a mother encouraging her toddler to be a martyr when he grows up. Mixing political analysis with interviews with activist colleagues, noted Islamic scholars and Pakistani women who have chosen to embrace fundamentalism, Sumar’s provocative questions dramatically capture the tension between liberal and fundamentalist forces that are shaping life in contemporary Pakistan. “Less an ethnography than a philosophical and historical inquiry into the meaning of gender within Islam, it provides a witty, incisive, and important reflection on the "parameters" of gender hierarchy and, indeed, the "truth" of law, both secular and religious. Required viewing to understand some of the specific ideological conundrums within the sexual politics in Pakistan.” Joseph Boles, Northern Arizona University
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Divorce Iranian Style

Hilarious, tragic, stirring, this fly-on-the-wall look at several weeks in an Iranian divorce court provides a unique window into the intimate circumstances of Iranian women’s lives. Following Jamileh, whose husband beats her; Ziba, a 16-year-old trying to divorce her 38-year-old husband; and Maryam, who is desperately fighting to gain custody of her daughters, this deadpan chronicle showcases the strength, ingenuity, and guile with which they confront biased laws, a Kafaka-esque administrative system, and their husbands’ and families’ rage to gain divorces. With the barest of commentary, acclaimed director Kim Longinotto turns her cameras on the court and lets it tell its own story. Dispelling images of Iran as a country of war, hostages, and “fatwas”, and Iranian women as passive victims of a terrible system, this film is a subtle, fascinating look at women’s lives in a country which is little known to most Americans. Directed by Kim Longinotto and Ziba Mir-Hosseini, author of MARRIAGE ON TRIAL: A STUDY OF ISLAMIC FAMILY LAW.
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In My Father's House

In this beautiful, poetic and deeply personal film, Moroccan filmmaker Fatima Jebli Ouazzani investigates the status accorded women in Islamic marriage customs and the continuing importance of virginity. Ouazzani left her father’s house in Morocco sixteen years ago to escape the constraints her culture and its traditions have put on women. She returns now to confront those traditions, her own family and herself. Following three generations of women — her grandmother and mothers’ arranged marriages, her grandmother’s subsequent attempts to divorce, and Naima, a young woman who has returned home for a traditional wedding ceremony—she questions whether her choice for a life of her own was worth the loss of her father. Jebli Ouazzani offers us a rare glimpse of the shifts and changes in Moroccan and Islamic culture in this powerful, moving film.
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Covered: The Hejab in Cairo, Egypt

Just over a decade ago it was hard to find women on the streets of Cairo who veiled, a custom that their forebearers struggled to overthrow at the beginning of the twentieth century. But today, many Muslim women in Egypt wear a head scarf called the hejab, and in more extreme cases they cover their entire faces. This absorbing documentary offers a rare opportunity to examine the restoration of veiling and the reasons for its pervasiveness through the eyes of Egyptian women. In unique interviews with women of different ages and backgrounds, COVERED reveals that Islamic tradition, religious fundamentalism, and growing nationalism are not solely responsible for decisions to wear the hejab. Diverse social, economic and political factors, as well as personal preferences, often play prominent roles. As timely as it is compelling, the film shows how complex causes account for a phenomenon that is poorly understood outside the Muslim world.
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Girls Still Dream

In this engrossing new documentary, award-winning filmmaker Ateyyat El Abnoudy realistically portrays the challenges facing girls in a country where one in four marries before age sixteen and one in five ever attends school. While girls both in and out of school share ambitions ranging from becoming a doctor to attaining basic reading skills, parents express mixed feelings about education's relevance. An affecting view of how Egyptian women still struggle for such basic human rights as education and the avoidance of compulsory marriage, GIRLS STILL DREAM highlights the cultural clash between traditional values and young women's growing self-awareness in the developing world.
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Conversations Across the Bosphorous

CONVERSATIONS ACROSS THE BOSPHOROUS intertwines the stories of two Muslim women from Istanbul - Gokcen, from an orthodox Islamic family who takes off her veil after years of struggle; and Mine, from a secular family, who discovers her faith living as an immigrant in San Francisco. Both women demonstrate how their relationship to their faith has shaped and determined their personal lives. Combining evocative visual imagery with poetic and lively debate, CONVERSATIONS ACROSS THE BOSPHOROUS provides a deeper understanding of Turkish society and the current tensions between fundamentalist and secular forces.
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Lebanon: Bits and Pieces

LEBANON: BITS AND PIECES is an exquisitely beautiful and profoundly moving exploration of the myths and realities of present-day Lebanon, as reflected through the voices of women. During Olga Naccache's childhood, Lebanon was known to the outside world as an exemplary model of peace in the heart of an Arab Middle East dominated by dictators. Following a seven year absence, Naccache returned to Lebanon with a camera to record the dreams, disappointments and worries of women of her own generation and to meet a younger generation of women whose only memory is that of war. Through these voices, Naccache’s own voyage of rediscovery is revealed — rediscovery of her country and of herself.
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Algeria: Women At War

ALGERIA: WOMEN AT WAR offers a rare insight into the key role Algerian women played in their country’s liberation struggle from the French thirty years ago and their equally important place in today’s politics. Produced for Channel Four Television, this high-quality documentary uses a combination of interviews and archival footage to ponder the position of women in Algeria in the light of thirty years of single party rule, the rise of Islam and increasing political violence. It raises critical questions about the balancing act between women’s and national liberation struggles.
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Hidden Faces

Originally intended as a film about internationally renowned feminist writer Nawal El Saadawi, HIDDEN FACES develops into a fascinating portrayal of Egyptian women’s lives in Muslim society. In this collaborative documentary, Safaa Fathay, a young Egyptian woman living in Paris, returns home to interview the famed writer and activist, but becomes disillusioned with her. Illuminated by passages from El Saadawi’s work, the film follows Fathay’s journey to her family home and discovers similar complex frictions between modernity and tradition. Her mother’s decision to return to the veil after twenty years and her cousins’ clitoridectomies reveal a disturbing renewal of fundamentalism. This absorbing documentary broaches the contradictions of feminism in a Muslim environment; a startling, unforgettable picture of contemporary women in the Arab world.
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Measures of Distance

In this resonant work, Palestinian-born video and performance artist Mona Hatoum explores the renewal of friendship between mother and daughter during a brief family reunion in war-torn Lebanon in 1981. Through letters read in voice-over and Arabic script overlaying the images, the viewer experiences the silence and isolation imposed by war. The politics of the family and the exile of the Palestinian people are inseparable in this forceful, moving film.
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La Nouba des Femmes du Mont-Chenoua

Finally available in the United States, this classic film from acclaimed novelist and filmmaker Assia Djebar is essential viewing for an understanding of women in Algeria. Taking its title and structure from the “Nouba," a traditional song of five movements, this haunting film mingles narrative and documentary styles to document the creation of women’s personal and cultural histories. Returning to her native region 15 years after the end of the Algerian war, Lila is obsessed by memories of the war for independence that defined her childhood. In dialogue with other Algerian women, she reflects on the differences between her life and theirs. In lyrical footage she contemplates the power of grandmothers who pass down traditions of anti-colonial resistance to their heirs. Reading the history of her country as written in the stories of women’s lives, Assia Djebar’s LA NOUBA DES FEMMES DU MONT-CHENOUA is an engrossing portrait of speech and silence, memory and creation, and a tradition where the past and present coexist. Widely hailed as one of the most important figures in francophone Maghrebian literature, Djebar is the author of more than a dozen books, including A SISTER TO SCHEHEREZADE and WOMEN OF ALGIERS IN THEIR APARTMENT. She is currently Professor and Director of the Center for French and Francophone Studies at the Louisiana State University.
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