Exit: Leaving Extremism Behind

A former right-wing extremist explores why people join hate groups and what makes them decide to leave.
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Dinner with the President

Pakistani filmmaker Sabiha Sumar and co-director Sachithanandam Sathananthan request a dinner with President Musharraf as he’s facing impeachment charges and engage him in an enlightening discussion about the past and his vision for the country.
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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.
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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.
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Love the Sinner

LOVE THE SINNER is a personal documentary exploring the connection between Christianity and homophobia in the wake of the 2016 shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
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Deep Run

Executive produced by Susan Sarandon, DEEP RUN is a powerful verité portrait of trans life in rural North Carolina. Exiled by her family and rejected by an ex-partner, 17-year-old Spazz has no one to lean on for support. But when Spazz falls in love again and summons up the courage to become Cole, a strong-willed trans-man, his candid humor and steadfast, all-inclusive Christian beliefs counter the bigotry he experiences daily. This deeply personal documentary reveals rebirth and courage within America’s deeply conservative Bible Belt as Cole struggles to find a church that will affirm his identity and the couple's relationship. With a small group of supportive friends, relatives, and his girlfriend, Ashley, Cole's search for love and belonging leads him to a radical revision of what faith and church can be. An intimate study of young outsiders in an insular Christian community, DEEP RUN explores the intersection of modern identity and faith in the American South. Essential viewing for LGBTQIA Audiences, Queer and Gender studies classes.
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Beautiful Sin

BEAUTIFUL SIN tells a surprising reproductive rights story, one that resonates from Central America to the United States and beyond. What if you desperately wanted a baby, but your country and religion prohibited you from trying the one medical treatment that could help you? In 2000, anti-abortion activists, with the help of the Catholic Church and a U.S. group, won a legal case that banned in vitro fertilization (IVF) in Costa Rica and gave the embryo legal rights, making Costa Rica the only country in the world to outlaw the treatment. BEAUTIFUL SIN tells the decade-long story of three couples struggling with infertility who take the Costa Rican government before an international human rights court to demand the right to use IVF. Filmmaker Gabriela Quirós charts the emotional journey of these couples as they contend with infertility and explores the legal ramifications of reproductive rights. It’s a universal story about what happens when state power and religious ideology clash with the desire to have a child. Funding for this program was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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Voices of Muslim Women from the US South

When one thinks of the American Deep South, the image of veiled Muslim students strolling the University of Alabama campus is the last thing that comes to mind. VOICES OF MUSLIM WOMEN FROM THE US SOUTH is a documentary that explores the Muslim culture through the lens of five University of Alabama Muslim students. The film tackles how Muslim women carve a space for self-expression in the Deep South and how they negotiate their identities in a predominantly Christian society that often has unflattering views about Islam and Muslims. Through interviews with students and faculty at Alabama, this film examines representations and issues of agency by asking: How do Muslim female students carve a space in a culture that thinks of Muslims as terrorists and Muslim women as backward?
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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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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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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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Virgin Tales

Evangelical Christians are calling out for a second sexual revolution: chastity! As a counter-movement to the attitudes and practices of contemporary culture, one in eight girls in the U.S. today has vowed to remain "unsoiled" until marriage. But the seven children of Randy and Lisa Wilson, the Colorado Springs founders of the Purity Ball, take the concept one step further. They save even the first kiss for the altar. Following the Wilsons for two years, this impressive documentary observes the family’s life up close as some of their children prepare for their fairytale vision of romance and marriage, and seek out their own prince and princess spouses. As VIRGIN TALES takes in home routines, church services, social gatherings, conventions and purity balls, a broader theme emerges: how the religious right is grooming a young generation of virgins to embody an Evangelically-grounded Utopia in America.
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Jasad & The Queen of Contradictions

Lebanese poet and writer Joumana Haddad has stirred controversy in the Middle East for having founded Jasad (the Body), an erotic quarterly Arabic-language magazine. Dedicated to the body’s art, science and literature, Jasad is one of the first of its kind in the Arab world and has caused a big debate in the Arabic region not only for its explicit images, erotic articles and essays on sex in Arabic but also for the fact that an Arab woman is behind it all. Despite Beirut’s external appearance of freedom portrayed through its infamous nightlife and women’s stylish and open revealing fashion sense, this is all still taboo. JASAD & THE QUEEN OF CONTRADICTIONS, by Lebanese director Amanda Homsi-Ottosson, tackles the subject of sexuality in Lebanon, giving insight on the rare use of the Arabic language to discuss sex and erotica. Different views regarding the magazine and sexuality are also given by the head of a women’s rights organization, a sexual health educator and a doctor who performs hymen reconstruction surgeries. Despite the debates, the threats and the lack of funds, one passionate woman shows no sign of slowing down her small steps towards a “sexual revolution” in the Arab world.
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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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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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Rights & Wrongs

By returning to the roots of Islam and understanding how societies have found justification for their treatment of women within Islamic sources, this thoughtful and far reaching film is an essential resource that debunks myths about women and Islam. Renowned Muslim feminist scholars and journalists, including Asra Q. Nomani, Mona Eltahawy, Azadeh Moaveni, Dr. Amina Wadud, Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl and Asma Gull Hasan, detail how from early on very different understandings of the Qur’an lead to vastly different translations, with enormous repercussions for women living in different Islamic societies around the world. The film alternates between the history of Mohammad and issues facing Muslim women today—from the wearing of the veil, to praying in the mosque, and attitudes towards domestic violence and honor killings. It also looks at how feminism works within Islam in the modern era. RIGHTS & WRONGS is indispensable for courses on Islamic and Middle Eastern studies, comparative religion, women’s studies and more.
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Quest for Honor

QUEST FOR HONOR, which premiered at Sundance and was shortlisted for an Academy® Award, investigates the still prevalent practice of honor killing in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq.
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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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Voices Unveiled: Turkish Women Who Dare

Can Islamic values co-exist with full equality for women? VOICES UNVEILED examines this timely issue through portraits of three women pursuing life paths and careers of their own choosing in present-day Turkey. Each has defied social expectations in a democratic, secular nation where religious fundamentalism has re-emerged as a political force and patriarchal values still prevail. Well-known textile artist Belkis Belpinar, whose work combines science and kilim rug traditions, resisted her father’s wishes that she study engineering. Dancer and psychologist Banu Yucelar braved family opposition to modern dance, widely perceived as a form of prostitution. Women’s rights activist Nur Bakata Mardin helps women in underserved communities, where old beliefs hold sway, form small business cooperatives. As engaging as its subjects, VOICES UNVEILED punctuates its in-depth portraits with insights from other Turks and lively discussions that include intergenerational debates over veiling. The film is a valuable companion to WOMEN OF TURKEY, which offers a different take on gender roles that embrace modern lifestyles and Islamic culture.
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Women of Turkey: Between Islam and Secularism

In this thought-provoking documentary, veiled and unveiled women explore relationships between Islam and secularism in present-day Turkey, where millions of women, many of them educated and urban, wear the headscarf or hijab. For her survey, filmmaker Naccache, who was born in Turkey and raised in Lebanon, draws on historical footage and individual visits with Turkish women from across the professional spectrum. Among them are the owner of a gallery devoted to Islamic art; a left-wing journalist whose politics stem from her religious convictions; a young intellectual adhering to a spirituality based on no single religion; and the film critic and columnist for a popular online newspaper. Their wide-ranging interviews, which analyze the background and impact of controversial bans on headscarves in universities and civil service, yield fresh perspectives on Turkish women’s integration of Islamic culture and modern lifestyles, as well as their far-reaching achievements and priorities for the future.
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Women of Faith

This absorbing documentary examines women’s decisions to lead religious lives in the Roman Catholic tradition in the post-feminist era. Throughout history, nuns were given certain advantages over other women, while still oppressed within their vocational pursuits. They were taught to read and write, encouraged to pursue music, literature, art, philosophy and spirituality, and officially allowed to escape marriage’s powerless role of wife. But why would a woman choose a nun’s life today? Individual interviews with seven women provide answers—and explore how rebellion can happen within and outside the Church, how women in the Church reconcile conflicting, religious, personal, and political beliefs, and how they view official Church positions on contraception, homosexuality, and women’s ordination as priests. The diverse group includes Poor Clares, contemplative nuns who spend most of their days in prayer, Maryknolls who have served in Central America, and a Roman Catholic Womanpriest. Both timely and insightful, the film provides a rare look at their experiences and current controversies over tradition, change and power within the Catholic Church.
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Salata Baladi (An Egyptian Salad)

Award-winning Egyptian filmmaker Nadia Kamel’s heritage is a complex blend of religions and cultures. Her mother is a half-Jewish, half-Italian Christian who converted to Islam when she married Nadia’s half-Turkish, half-Ukrainian father. Prompted by the realization that her 10-year-old nephew Nabeel is growing up in an Egyptian society where talk of culture clashes is all too common, she urges her feminist, pacifist, activist mother, Mary Rosenthal, to share their diverse family history. But, as she and Mary weave their way through the family’s multiethnic fairytales, they bump unexpectedly into the silence around old prejudices concerning the estranged Egyptian-Jewish branch of their family living in Israel since 1948. Bravely inspired to further challenge the boundaries between cultures, religions, and nationalities that are used to divide people, Kamel embarks on an amazing personal journey with her mother and nephew to Israel and Italy, confronting with an open heart, fears and prejudices along the way.
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Searching 4 Sandeep

Single, frustrated, and lonely in the middle of Sydney’s thriving gay community, director Poppy Stockell decides to “research” a light-hearted look at the lesbian Internet-dating scene. To her surprise and delight, she forges a deep online connection with an English woman, Sandeep Virdi. When their innocent flirtation turns into true attachment, Poppy sends Sandeep a camcorder and viewers watch as Poppy and Sandeep’s virtual relationship blooms into a poignant love complicated by the reality that Sandeep is Sikh, lives at home with her conservative family, and has kept her sexuality a secret. Humorous and thoughtful, Searching 4 Sandeep explores the collision of love and ethnic, religious, and sexual identity. Filmmaker Stockell raises serious questions about a new kind of global romance at odds with the cultural, social, and geographical distances between people. Will Sandeep’s family overcome their homophobia? Will the star-crossed lovers surmount the obstacles separating them? Through raw, incredibly frank footage, Searching 4 Sandeep follows the couple’s tumultuous relationship across two years, and three continents, in a touching examination of sexuality, religion, globalization, and culture seen through the lens of this uniquely modern love story.
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My Daughter the Terrorist

This fascinating documentary is an exceedingly rare, inside look at an organization that most of the world has blacklisted as a terrorist group. Made by the first foreign film crew to be given access to the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) of Sri Lanka, the film offers important insights into the recently re-ignited conflict in Sri Lanka. Twenty-four-year-olds Dharsika and Puhalchudar have been living and fighting side-by-side for seven years as part of LTTE’s elite force, the Black Tigers. Their story is told through cinema verité footage, newsreel footage, and interviews with the women and Dharsika’s mother. The women describe heartbreaking traumas they both experienced at the hands of the Sri Lankan army, which led them to join the guerrilla forces. As they discuss their readiness to become suicide bombers and their abiding loyalty to the unnamed “Leader” – who they are sure would never harm civilians – grisly images of past LTTE suicide bombings provide somber counterpoints. Their curiously flat affects raise the possibility that they have been brainwashed. This even-handed documentary sheds light on the reasons that the Tamil Tigers continue their bloody struggle for independence while questioning their tactics.
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3 Times Divorced

How does a Palestinian woman in Israel survive an abusive husband? When Gaza-born Khitam’s abusive Arab Israeli husband divorces her and gains custody of her six children, she suddenly finds herself fighting two heart-breaking battles: against the Sharia Muslim court to get her children back, and against the state of Israel, which considers her an illegal resident and denies her protection in a shelter for battered women. 3 TIMES DIVORCED is a fascinating and disturbing look at a civil and religious legal system that denies women the right to get a divorce independent of their husbands. It highlights the bind that abused women find themselves in when their immigration status is contingent upon marriage. With remarkable access and an unflinching lens that never sensationalizes, award-winning filmmaker Ibtisam Salh Mara'ana captures Khitam’s astonishing courage as she faces an impossible situation with no country or court to protect her.
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Belfast Girls

BELFAST GIRLS is a quiet, powerful story of two young women growing up in a city where neighbors are cut off from each other by permanent concrete and corrugated iron screens. These so-called “peace walls” have also become mental walls, dividing one community from another. Living in different worlds within the same city, Mairéad Mc Ilkenny and Christine Savage share the legacy of 30 years of conflict in Northern Ireland. With insightful clarity, Swedish director Malin Andersson reveals how, in their daily struggles and triumphs, these two strong women have more in common with each other than they have differences. For 20-year-old Catholic Mairéad, childhood memories of brutal arrests of her father at night and a constant fear for her life mix with wonderings what the “other side” looks like. She has never gotten to know a Protestant in her entire life – until the day her flatmate starts a new relationship. Suddenly “the other side” has moved into her house. Christine is Protestant and walks on the other side of the wall, dreaming about a house of her own and a boy to love. When she finally finds him, he’s a Catholic. Both girls find the courage to defy the legacy of separation handed down to them, creating a more hopeful future for themselves.
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These Girls

Screened to audiences at the Cannes, Toronto, and New York film festivals, this fresh, irresistibly lively, intensely engaging documentary from widely acclaimed Egyptian director Tahani Rached (SORAÏDA, WOMAN OF PALESTINE and FOUR WOMEN OF EGYPT) follows a band of teenage girls living on the streets of Cairo. Rached won astonishing access to the girls’ world; this vigorous, cinematic film is built upon the deep trust of its subjects and the long experience of the filmmaker. Already at a disadvantage as impoverished and abused girls in a Muslim society, they encounter rape, drug addiction, prostitution, pregnancy and motherhood on the streets. While the girls’ troubles are not downplayed, neither are their courage, playfulness and vibrant camaraderie. Rached brings alive the pulse of Cairo’s streets, offering an unsentimental portrait that avoids traps of guilt or cheap pity. What stands out is the strength and sheer joy that these girls project. With deft skill Rached reveals an invisible world and offers a loving homage to the inspirational, fierce girls who inhabit it.
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The Sermons of Sister Jane

From Oscar and Emmy Award-winning filmmakers Allie Light and Irving Saraf (Dialogues With Madwomen and In The Shadow of The Stars), in partnership with Carol Monpere, also an Emmy Award-winner, comes their latest film, The Sermons Of Sister Jane: Believing the Unbelievable. This documentary is an engaging portrait that sparkles with the courage, wit and humanity of Sister Jane Kelly, who combines her deep spiritual faith with her equally powerful commitment towards resistance and change. When Sister Jane discovered that a priest in her church was molesting young men and stealing from the congregation, and when the evidence was ignored by the church, she contacted the press, creating a scandal. Throughout the film she shares her progressive views on issues such as birth control, homosexuality, and women priests. She impels the Catholic Church to return to egalitarian roots of community. The scenes filmed at Plowshares, an organization she created to feed and serve the poor and homeless, demonstrate Sister Jane’s powerful ability to translate her faith into profoundly meaningful action. This touching documentary, skillfully produced by these acclaimed filmmakers, reveals Sister Jane’s long struggle to speak out against what she believed was wrong, and how this ongoing battle ultimately has heart-breaking results.
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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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They Call Me Muslim

In popular Western imagination, a Muslim woman in a veil – or hijab – is a symbol of Islamic oppression. But what does it mean for women’s freedom when a democratic country forbids the wearing of the veil? In this provocative documentary, filmmaker Diana Ferrero portrays the struggle of two women – one in France and one in Iran – to express themselves freely. In 2004, the French government instituted an "anti-veil law," forbidding Muslim girls from wearing the hijab to school. Samah, a teenager in Paris who, at 14 decided to wear the veil, explains how the law attacks her sense of identity – and does not make her feel liberated. “Who says that freedom is not wearing anything on your head?” she asks. Half a world away in Tehran, “K,” forced to wear the hijab by the Islamic regime, defiantly wears it her own way – and her translucent scarf loosely draped over her hair puts her at risk of arrest. When Ferrero films her at home, K, comfortable in a tank top and shorts, says, “They call me Muslim... But do you see me as a Muslim? What do you have in your mind for a Muslim person?” Beautifully shot and finely crafted, THEY CALL ME MUSLIM highlights how women still must struggle for the right to control their own bodies – not only under theocratic regimes, but also in secular, democratic countries where increasing discrimination against Muslims and sexism intersect.
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That Paradise Will Be Mine

Why would a woman in one of the most liberal Western European countries choose to become a Muslim and faithfully follow the demands of her new conviction – including wearing the veil? This eye-opening film follows the lives of three women dealing with the consequences of their choice to convert to Islam. Rather than pressing the women for the reasons behind their choice, director Merel Beernink takes a close look at their day-to-day lives, letting them speak candidly about how they feel in their new cultural and religious context. Issues of marriage and relationships loom large for all three women. Astrid, who had a brief but unhappy arranged marriage, is now living with her parents and looking for a husband. Inge is considering a move to Cairo to marry her Egyptian fiancé. Rabia is married to a Muslim man and struggling with matters such as polygamy and homosexuality. Their perspectives are complemented by revealing and often touching interviews with their parents. Capturing these women’s struggle to reconcile the expectations of their families and friends with the demands of their new conviction, Beernink’s intimate portraits offer fascinating insight into the choices made by these women to lead a different kind of life.
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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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The Lost Tribe

While ex-Mormon-lesbian-atheist Sue-Ann Post has carved out a name for herself as a stand-up comic in Australia, she has been estranged from her family ever since she decided to abandon her Mormon upbringing. When she publicly demanded to be excommunicated from the Mormon church on a national TV talk show, she got what she asked for—leaving her completely ostracized from her Mormon community. This highly engaging doc follows Post as she journeys to Salt Lake City where she has been invited to speak at the Affirmation Conference—an annual gathering of gay and lesbian Mormons and ex-Mormons who are trying to reconcile their faith with their homosexuality. As cynical as she has become about her former religion, Post finds herself struggling with conflicting emotions that she had buried for years, while realizing that she has finally found her own lost tribe. Hilarious and moving, THE LOST TRIBE offers fascinating insights into the Mormon faith, and reveals the often explosive intersection of sexuality and religion.
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In My Father's Church

Charissa is a lesbian who wants a church wedding, but it doesn’t seem to help that her dad is the pastor of the town’s United Methodist Church. While he has been quietly supportive of his daughter’s lesbian relationship, Charissa’s father knows he would put his career at risk if he chose to officiate at her marriage ceremony. In 1999, the Methodist church took a firm stand by suspending a pastor for officiating a same sex union—and the clashes between clergy and gay couples have been making headlines ever since. Compelling and honest, IN MY FATHER'S CHURCH is a poignant exploration of the intersection of homosexuality and religion, from the perspective of someone who has much at stake. Though disappointed by her father’s resistance to marry her, Charissa and her bride-to-be Kelly continue to make their wedding plans—finding support in surprising places, and eventually are married by Charissa’s uncle. This emotionally charged story of one woman’s attempt to reconcile her love, faith and family brings to life the deep conflicts that gay marriage has caused in many churches—and for many individuals trying to maintain their faith while preserving their own identities.
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My Sister, My Bride

As the issue of gay marriage grips the country, this touching documentary follows the heartwarming and historic journey of two Jewish lesbians as they seek to celebrate their commitment to one another. Partners for five years, Farrell and Caren simply want to officially acknowledgment of their relationship like any other couple in love. Supported by their temple community in Nevada, the women put their own personal twist on a Jewish affirmation ceremony by creating their own: a B’rit Ahuvah. Two years later, when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom orders the County Clerk to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses, Farrell and Caren travel from Nevada with baby in tow to be married at San Francisco City Hall in a civil ceremony. Together with thousands of other hopeful couples, they participate in what has become a defining moment in the ongoing struggle for equality in this country. A story of love, marriage and the Constitution, MY SISTER, MY BRIDE personalizes the current legal debates and serves as a testament to the sheer determination of couples and families fighting for their right to love.
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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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Paradise Lost

Arab Israeli filmmaker Ibtisam Salh Mara'ana grew up in Paradise (Fureidis in Arabic), a small fishing village overlooking the Mediterranean. One of the few Arab communities remaining after the 1948 war, Paradise became culturally and politically isolated as Jewish settlements sprung up around it, and today it is a place defined by silence and repression. This thought-provoking and intimate film diary follows the director’s attempt to recreate the village’s lost history, including the story of her childhood hero Suuad, the legendary local “bad girl” who was imprisoned as a PLO activist in the 1970’s and banished from the community. The director’s frustration builds as her questions are resisted, and her hopes soar when she finally meets Suuad, now a Doctor of Law living in the UK. Stunning cinematography and evocative music underscore the power of Mara’ana’s film, whose lyrical, emotionally charged tone is strikingly honest and straightforward. Presenting the rarely heard voice of an Arab Israeli, this important film offers valuable insight into the contradictions and complexities of modern womanhood and national identity in the Middle East.
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Adio Kerida (Goodbye Dear Love)

Distinguished Anthropologist Ruth Behar (recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship) returns to her native Cuba to profile the island’s remaining Sephardic Jews and chronicle her family’s journey to the U.S. as Cuban-Jewish exiles. Highlighting themes of expulsion and departure that are at the crux of the Sephardic legacy, Behar seeks reconciliation with Cubans on the island and advocates for the possibility of return and renewal. She debunks myths about the country’s Jewish community and unravels the influence of interfaith marriage, Afro-Cuban santería, tourism and the embargo on contemporary Cuban-Sephardic cultural identity. The result is a bittersweet, lyrical, and often humorous portrait of modern-day Cuba that few know exists today. Narrated by Elizabeth Peña.
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For My Children

In October 2000, as the second Palestinian Intifada erupts, Israeli filmmaker Michal Aviad begins an exploration about both the moral and mundane dilemmas she faces every day in Tel Aviv. What begins with deceptive simplicity-a tender scene of sending the children off to school-quickly becomes a profound study of vulnerability and anxiety. Small acts like crossing the street are charged with inescapable fear. As the nightmare of violence escalates over the coming months, Michal and her husband Shimshon ask the quintessential Diaspora Jewish question, "When is it time to go?" The question reverberates through a stream of images-public and private, home video and historic archival footage-as her parents and extended family recount their own journeys to Israel from Europe, escaping death and the Holocaust, and from America, out of ideological commitment to Israel. Their stories are told with vivid, beautiful detail-at a bucolic family picnic, during a vacation on the California coast-and with a degree of candor and intimacy rarely seen in Israeli cinema. "I don't want to be an immigrant," says Shimshon, a political activist whose profound feelings about displacement and exile are interwoven with TV images of war, children asleep in their beds, grandma making pasta and the sounds of sirens. Tanks roll over the hills as tea is being made in the kitchen in a cosmic seesaw between blissful domesticity and the nightmare of public life, in this deeply moving and riveting video essay. -Deborah Kaufman
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Ramleh

A timely and powerful look at the ideological, cultural and political conflicts in contemporary Israel, this highly original documentary profiles three seemingly disparate women residing in the town of Ramleh. Located in the heartland of the Israel, this former Palestinian territory serves as a microcosm of the beliefs, biases and conflicts of women living in the country today. Profiled in this compelling documentary are Sima and Orly, two ultra-orthodox Jewish women who rediscover religion and enthusiastically support the conservative “Shas” party, the third largest political party in Israel; Svetlana, a single-mother and recent immigrant struggling to establish herself in her new country; and Gehad, a young Muslim teacher and law student attempting to find a sense of national identity in a predominately Jewish state. Filmed between the general elections in 1999 and the 2001 elections, Ramleh demonstrates the profound cultural and political divisions barring these women from living together as a united community, as well as reveals how their political landscape helped sow the seeds of the intifada in 2000. It similarly raises the question of whether each woman and the communities they represent will ever peacefully reconcile their search for tradition, religion and homeland.
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Runaway

“RUNAWAY is a powerful and heart-breaking documentary about a group of young runaway girls who are taken to a women's shelter in Tehran, Iran. The film focuses on the sufferings of young girls who struggle to free themselves from the tyrannical and abusive power of their families, mainly their fathers, brothers, and stepfathers. The sisterly feelings of the girls towards each other, their spiritual strength, their courage to rebel, and their wit are shown with a great degree of compassion and empathy in the film. The filmmakers have beautifully criticized the patriarchal system of family and the destructive power of male family members over the lives of their daughters and sisters. One can imagine that the issue of confinement and abuse goes beyond the issue of class when it comes to the problem of domestic violence and the desire to control women through anger, aggression and madness.” - Mehrnaz Saeed, Colombia College Chicago
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The Walnut Tree

Through a striking combination of documentary and experimental approaches, THE WALNUT TREE examines Holocaust memory, the family, and the role of photography in history. As its point of departure, the film shows three girls in Dutch costumes posing for their father's camera. This sweet but fleeting moment, made static in a snapshot, is contrasted with live-action images of railway tracks--tracks that carried the death transports--now blurred by the passage of time. Fragments of an interrupted childhood emerge in the matter-of-fact narration by the filmmaker's mother, recounting the fate of the family's photo album, her parents' walnut tree, and her final memories of her mother and father in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. A follow-up to her award-winning ZYKLON PORTRAIT, Elida Schogt's latest film is an eloquent mediation on survival and the stories called forth from within and beyond the frame.
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Seven Hours To Burn

"A visually expressive personal documentary that explores a family's history. Filmmaker Thakur mixes richly abstract filmmaking with disturbing archival war footage to narrate the story of her Danish mother's and Indian father's experiences. Her mother survives Nazi-occupied Denmark while her father experiences the devastating civil war in India between Hindus and Muslims. Both émigrés to Canada, they meet and marry, linking two parallel wars. Their daughter lyrically turns these two separate histories into a visually rich poem linking past and present in a new singular identity." Doubletake Documentary Film Festival Catalogue
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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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Daring to Resist: Three Women Face the Holocaust

Why would a young person choose resistance rather than submission during Hitler's reign of terror while her world was collapsing around her? In this gripping documentary, three Jewish women answer this question by recalling their lives as teenagers in occupied Holland, Hungary and Poland, when they refused to remain passive as the Nazis rounded up local Jewish populations. Defying her family's wishes, each girl found an unexpected way of fighting back--as a ballet dancer shuttling Jews to safe houses and distributing resistance newspapers; as a photographer and partisan waging guerrilla war against the Germans; and as a leader in an underground Zionist group smuggling Jews across the border. Enriched by home movies, archival footage, and previously unpublished photographs, the women's varied and vibrant stories provide a unique look at Jewish resistance to Nazism, a subject all too often consigned to history's footnotes.
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A Place Called Home

Persheng Sadegh-Vaziri grew up in pre-Revolution Tehran daydreaming about an ideal life in the West. Nineteen years later, after living and working in the U.S., Persheng explores her controversial decision to move back to Iran, to return to the place she never stopped calling home. In this fascinating and very personal documentary, Persheng's interviews with her family--with her mother and sister in the U.S. and with her father, who chose to remain in Iran--reveal some of the complex layers of expatriate, national and cultural identities. The film features a rare glimpse at women's lives in contemporary Tehran.
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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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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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The Good Wife of Tokyo

“Forget those demure ladies with fragrant fans and meet the new breed of Japanese women!” - Amanda Casson, London Film Festival. Kazuko Hohki goes back to Tokyo with her band, the ‘Frank Chickens’, after living in England for 15 years. This wry and delightful film records her re-experiencing of Japan after a long absence, examining traditional attitudes to women and those of Kazuko’s friends who are trying to live differently. “This is a remarkable film which will appeal to general audiences as well as educators teaching about women, the family and/or religion in contemporary Japan. It deserves to be widely shown.” — Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership Center for Educational Media.
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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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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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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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Women of Niger

Niger is a traditionally Islamic country where authorized polygamy and Muslim fundamentalism clash with the country’s struggle for democracy. In elections in 1993, men voted by proxy for their different wives and daughters. Women who speak out about their rights have been physically attacked and ex-communicated by the ayatollahs. Working together, women are the most ardent defenders of democracy, which offers the best hope of winning the equal rights which are still denied them. Critical viewing for those interested in women’s human rights and the impact of fundamentalism.
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Monday’s Girls

This fascinating documentary, by the filmmaker of THE BODY BEAUTIFUL, follows two young Nigerian women’s different experiences of a traditional rite of passage. Young virgins, irabo, spend five weeks in “fattening rooms”, emerging to dance before the villagers and to be married. The girls wear heavy copper coils on their legs to enforce inactivity as they are waited on and honored by their families. One of the young village women, Florence, is keen to take part. But Akisiye, who returns from the city at her father’s behest, is not certain she wants to. Combining voice-over and interviews, MONDAY'S GIRLS documents tradition, modernity, dissent and contradiction in African women’s lives.
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The Women Next Door

THE WOMEN NEXT DOOR is a thoughtful and emotive documentary about women in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Israeli director Michal Aviad was living in the United States when the Intifada broke out in the West Bank and Gaza. Filled with questions about how the Occupation affected women on both sides of the conflict she set off in a journey through Israel and the Occupied Territories with two other women -- a Palestinian assistant director and an Israeli cinematographer. The film explores the roles that the Occupation designated for women on both sides and the questions it raises. In a world of occupation, what is the meaning of femininity, motherhood, birth, violence, compassion and solidarity between women? Can the womanhood of Israelis and Palestinians be separated from their political reality? The women next door are the women on either side of the border, as well as, those who face the camera and those who stand behind it. THE WOMEN NEXT DOOR provides a unique perspective on women’s lives in the Middle East and the critical part they play in rebuilding societies ravaged by war.
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