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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Lena Khan

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 15, 2009 by Nur Meryem Seja

Lena Khan is a 24 year old independent filmmaker from California. She’s smart, talented, and is paving the way for Muslim women in the film industry.Hijabtrendz recently had the chance to catch up with her and talk about her latest project and how she got her start in film.

Hijabtrendz: What made you decide to become a filmmaker? Where did you go to school and what did you major in?Lena Khan:I went into college thinking I wanted to be a professor. Just before finishing undergrad I got a feeling that there was such a large bulk of America that received most of their education on the world and social issues not from professors but from movies.

I had already known and had regularly bemoaned the portrayal of Muslims in cinema, whether it was in “The Siege” where a man is obviously shown making wudu` (ritual ablution) before hijacking a plane, or in “Black Hawk Down” where militants and “enemies” are shown while the call to prayer rings in the background.

I figured instead of complaining about it I would just be the one to make the movies myself and educate the public through films that entertain but have a message.

So after I received my bachelors degrees in political science and history I went to the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.

Hijabtrendz: Did you find it hard as a Continue reading

How Bollywood portrays ‘the other’

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on November 17, 2008 by Nur Meryem Seja

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Film is not just an entertainment medium. It has been used and continues to be used to view history and can create and reinforce perceptions about the ‘Other.’ In Hindi cinema, the largest film industry in the world, depictions of the partition of India have been used to not only distort but propagandise how Pakistan and Muslims are viewed. A sanitised view of oneself and a muddied view of others is dangerous and irresponsible if left unchecked.

‘Cinema is the great interpreter of the past and constantly programs the memory of its audience,’ wrote Gaston Roberge (131). The twentieth century saw the greatest exodus known to mankind. Partition resulted in a displacement of 12 million refugees, over a million killed and tens of thousands of women kidnapped. Independence and its resulting traumatic partition was a subject mainly ignored by film makers at the time. After the second war between India and Pakistan in 1971, however, the political winds changed, and so did cinema. Indian cinema (commonly known as Bollywood) has shifted from a position of ignoring this phenomenon as a taboo, to being more antagonistic towards Pakistan and its Muslim population.

Gurinder Chadha, an English filmmaker of Indian descent, has written about Continue reading

Made in Sweden: Halal-TV

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on November 17, 2008 by Nur Meryem Seja

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A couple of days ago, a new TV show about Muslim women in Sweden, Halal-TV, aired its first episode on Sveriges Television (SVT), a Swedish television channel.

As expected, the show, which features three young Muslim women as hosts, was stirring up debate before it even began. A Kurdish-Swedish author, Dilsa Demirbag-Sten, pointed out that 23-year-old host Cherin Awad had said, at age 18, that stoning a woman to death was an appropriate punishment for adultery. Awad, a lawyer, has since retracted her previous comments.

The show also features 22-year-old doctor-to-be Dalia Azzam Kassem and 25-year-old dental hygienist Khadiga El-Khabiry. All were born in Sweden.

But that’s not what the hullabaloo is now about. On the very first episode, Awad and El-Khabiry refused to shake the hand of Carl Hamiltion (all pictured below), a columnist from the left-wing newspaper, Aftonbladet. According to a transcript published in the Expressen newspaper, this exchange occurred:

“I’m sorry, you ought to shake my hand,” said Hamilton.

“That’s something I decide,” replied El Khabiry.

“No, I don’t think so!” Hamilton shot back. Continue reading

Akkad: “The media runs the world. No tanks or planes.”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 17, 2008 by Nur Meryem Seja

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I met producer Moustapha Akkad at his Century City office March 26, 2002. Among many subjects, we talked about Jewish control of the media.

Moustapha: “The media runs the world. Absolutely. No tanks or planes. The media and the public companies. This is what The Protocols of [the Learned Elders of] Zion [is all about].

“The Zionists, last century, were persecuted in Europe. So they immigrated to the United States. They had a target. They were united. And they did not permit [statements] critical of Zion. They went all the way to control the world and to control the minds of the people through the media. There’s a lesson to learn from them.

“They have control of the media here. We know it. They did not do it through tanks or machine guns. They planned of course. They united. Did you see Pat Buchanan’s book [The Death of the West: How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasions Imperil Our Country and Civilization]? He makes sense.”

Luke: “Yes, he’s a sharp guy. He doesn’t mind telling it like it is, no matter how controversial.”

Moustapha: “There is a red line if I get into the issue of Israel but the Jews, like everyone else, wants to make money. Hollywood is not ethnic. There’s English, Irish, Spanish, French, Roman…”

Luke: “But movie and TV producers are 70% Jewish.”

Moustapha: “Yes. The studios are. That control is Continue reading

Islam on Film: Discussion with a Muslim Film Director

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on October 26, 2008 by Nur Meryem Seja

E-mail https://i2.wp.com/islamicinsights.com/images/stories/islam_on_film.jpgFarzad W. has more than a decade of media production knowledge, including newsroom experience. He is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Missouri in St. Louis teaching cinema, digital editing, and other media aspects since 1995.  He was the winner of the 1996 Emmy Award – Mid America Chapter for producing and directing “Plight of the Refugees”. Many of us may remember seeing his video on YouTube, a black and white production with an American Muslim woman sitting in front of the mirror. On one side of the mirror, she’s dressed in Hijab, and on other side she’s without it, as she “discusses” wearing Hijab. It is inspiring and true to the experiences of the Muslim woman and her veil. I sat down with director Farzad W. to discuss his inspiration for this video and the state of Muslims in the media.

What was your inspiration for your video “A Discussion”?

This piece was based on an article that I wrote on Muslim Writers Society’s website a few years ago. The dialog is based on true discussions between different women and also based on discussions with some Muslim women who explained their struggle about wearing Hijab. What “inspired” me was the strength of Muslim women who wear the Hijab. Hijabi women have always been on the defensive, and due to their kind nature (generally speaking), they tend to be patient with all the crap that they get. This video was meant to show that a woman who wears the Hijab does so by her own will and it’s not an easy choice, and it explained the socio-religious reasons for wearing it and for not wearing it.

How is studying and being a practicing Muslim in the film and video industry?

Being a “practicing Muslim” or a Muslim who cares about Islamic laws is really challenging in this field, at least in America. Studying it had its own challenges. For example, I don’t shoot kissing scenes or nudity, and I am careful with profanity and sexual contents. But at the same time, I received a lot of respect and support from non-Muslims and less from Muslims. This was really surprising to me. But I have to clarify something: even if I were not a Muslim, I would still stay away from sexual scenes because they are not creative at all, and I see them as a cheap shot to get artificial audience…audience who are interested in the nudity but not interested in the core message of the film.  Continue reading

The Middle East International Film Festival 2008

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 26, 2008 by Nur Meryem Seja

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https://i1.wp.com/www.zawya.com/pr/images/MEIFFEXECS_2008_09_17.jpgAbu Dhabi The organizers of the second Middle East International Film Festival, to be held from October 10-19, announced the special presentations line-up today at a press conference held at the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH).

Unveiling the special presentation screenings were Vice Chairman of MEIFF and Director General of ADACH, Mohamed Khalaf Al Mazrouei, Project Coordinator Eissa Al Mazrouei, Executive Director Nashwa Al Ruwaini and Abdalla Bastaki, Director of the Emirates Film Competition.

Abu Dhabi’s cultural project, with its future horizons and openness to the other, would not be completed without a strong presence of cinema which constitutes one of the major themes of contemporary culture. The Middle East International Film Festival, since its launch in October last year, constitutes the first crucial step on that long road,” said Mohamed Khalaf Al Mazrouei.

https://i1.wp.com/www.meiff.com/images/header_1x1.png“The inaugural Middle East International Film Festival was a huge challenge as to start a new festival that strives to have a predominant role in the international festival world is not easy with over 3000 other festivals taking place every year around the world. We believe that universality does not happen except through regionalism the Festival serves Arab cinema, especially in the Emirates and the Gulf, and we are honored to have great Arabic titles both in and out of competition as well as a massive selection of international films. We aspire to serve the art of film from all over the world. This year we promise an experience not to be missed for cinema lovers and interesting industry initiatives that would cater for the Industry professionals. Our extended ten days of the festival along with the new and returning sections of the festival will add on to the quality of achieving status as a must attend festival” quoted Nashwa Al Ruwaini.

In its second year, MEIFF strives to become a centre for filmmakers in the region and internationally to meet and present their films in a city fast becoming the leading cultural centre in the Middle East. The international element of the Festival this year is truly reflected in the line up of films that we will be screening this year. Jon Fitzgerald, MEIFF’s Director of Programming stated “It was a real challenge trying to achieve a true balance between East and West in our programming due to the sheer excellence in submissions from both this part of the world and beyond. Our viewing committee and programmers have viewed over a thousand films in order to get to the stage we are at currently in finalizing the final slate.” The festival has films from over 35 countries and all the five continents scheduled to screen this year, with the competition films and the other programming sections due to be released over the coming weeks leading up to the festival. Continue reading