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

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora