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

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

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.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid