News / USA

    Online Film Contest Focuses on Muslim Women

    Filmmakers invited to submit films for the first ever Muslim Women's Film Festival

    Filmmaker Vandana Sood believes the mainstream media tends to typecast Muslim women. 'Ideally, this film festival will break some of those stereotypes,' she says.
    Filmmaker Vandana Sood believes the mainstream media tends to typecast Muslim women. 'Ideally, this film festival will break some of those stereotypes,' she says.

    Multimedia

    Audio

    An online competition is now open for what's being called the first-ever international showcase of short films about Islam and women.

    The films focus on women of all faiths and backgrounds who are living in Muslim-majority countries, as well as Muslim women living as minorities around the world.

    The festival's lineup hasn't been finalized yet. Digital film entries are still being accepted in an online competition that runs through November 24 of this year and is open to filmmakers of all genders and backgrounds.

    Women's Voices Now

    When human rights lawyer Catinca Tabacaru heard that someone was thinking about putting together a film festival about Muslim women, she knew she had to get involved.

    So, in January 2010, Tabacaru joined with philanthropist Leslie Sacks and others to found Women's Voices Now, the non-profit organization  behind "Women's Voices from the Muslim World - a Short-Film Festival."

    Human rights lawyer Catinca Tabacaru co-founded the non-profit organization which is sponsoring 'Women's Voices from the Muslim World - a Short-Film Festival.'
    Human rights lawyer Catinca Tabacaru co-founded the non-profit organization which is sponsoring 'Women's Voices from the Muslim World - a Short-Film Festival.'

    The goal of the festival says Tabacaru, is to present an unbiased and comprehensive look at how women of all faiths, including Muslims, are asserting their rights both within and outside the Islamic world.  

    "There's so much work being done in Muslim majority countries and by Muslim women outside of those countries for women's rights," says Tabacaru. "There is a social movement happening and that's what we wanted to get behind."

    Festival Open to all filmmakers

    Filmmakers of all faiths and genders are invited to submit their films online. Once accepted into the competition, the films will first be reviewed and rated by web users and then officially voted on by a panel of judges.

    By having the short films on line, people from all over the world will have a chance to watch them, comment on them, and even rate them.

    As festival organizers select the film lineup, Tabacaru says they hope to present an unfiltered account of women's stories as well as highlighting women's voices from across the Muslim world.

    "So what we're exploring are women, women's rights, women's achievements, expansion of women's rights. We're non-religious, we're non-political, but what we've created is a collection of films about women who in some way are touched by Islam. And that is new," she says.

    It was especially important to her and the other festival organizers that some of the films focus on the positive contributions and accomplishments of Muslim women - and they do.

    "We're very used to hearing about the Muslim woman as the victim, the oppressed, the veiled," she says. "What we're seeing through this film festival is that we're getting stories which we would have never dreamt of getting. They are about women doing things that, before doing this project, I would never have imagined."

    Films about India

    New York City resident Vandana Sood is a 30-year-old Indian-born artist who entered a film in the competition. Her 21-minute documentary, "The Taxi Takes: Women and Islam," is about a Muslim woman taxi driver in Mumbai, India, who candidly discusses the controversial issue of the burka, or veil, with her fellow passengers.

    Sood says the festival has provided filmmakers like her with a unique opportunity to present a different perspective about Muslim women.

    "I think that is incredibly empowering because mainstream media does tend to typecast and stereotype Muslims - and Muslim women in particular - under a certain garb and ideally this film festival will break some of those stereotypes."

    Iranian-born Armenian Alysse Stepanian's 'Roghieh' is based on her experiences during the 1979 revolution.
    Iranian-born Armenian Alysse Stepanian's 'Roghieh' is based on her experiences during the 1979 revolution.

    Films about Iran

    Alysse Stepanian is an Iranian-born Armenian who has been living in the U.S. for the past 30 years. Her film, "Roghieh," is based on dream journals she wrote about her experiences after the Iranian revolution of 1979.

    While Stepanian herself is not a Muslim, she says growing up in a Muslim country helped her gain a lot of respect for the women there.

    "When you look at a country like Iran, or the women in Iran, from someplace like America, people see it as very exotic, or they see it as dangerous or scary, but when you live in a place like that, you're just living there, it's your home and you're not afraid," she says.

    Afghan film director Roya Sadat on the set.
    Afghan film director Roya Sadat on the set.

    Films from Afghanistan

    Festival organizer Tabacaru says the response so far to the online film competition has been very positive.

    Since the invitation to submit films online went out at the beginning of October, the festival has received entries from over 35 countries. Twenty six of the films are from Afghanistan alone.

    "And this is one thing this festival does; it provides information and it provides a new and more complex and nuanced view of these women, which I hope will challenge perceptions and will challenge the way we are so typically used to relating to the Muslim world. Because I think it's very important to the future," she says.

    Filmmakers interested in entering the competition can submit their films online at www.womensvoicesnow.org until November 24.  Winning entries will be awarded cash prizes and be screened at the three-day film festival next March in Los Angeles, California.

    You May Like

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora