Members of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program gathered with students and professors for a discussion centered on three films from female filmmakers portraying their envisions of the Arab world emerging from the revolutionary times of the Arab Spring.
On April 19, Heba Khalil, a government and politics graduate student, presented clips of three out of eight films that debuted at the “8 Arab Women Filmmakers Festival,” a recent film festival in Berlin.
Although the films were created by women, not all were based on women’s issues, yet Khalil felt that their voices need to be heard and not ignored.
“They’re not that different from other women around the world making a change,” Khalil said.
The Arab Spring is a revolution which began late 2010 involving various protests and demonstrations stirring up in Arab countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.
The first film, directed by Marwa Zein from Sudan, titled “A Game,” brings its audience to take a closer look on what it is to be a woman and divorced in the Arab world.
After the audience watched a clip of a daughter playing a game in which she switched roles with her mother and in the end showing her mother the mistakes she is making, Khalil engaged in a moment of questions and comments.
As each student and professor gave their opinions and reactions, the other clips were shown. “Neither Allah, Nor Master” and “The Kingdom of Heaven” were the next two clips that captured the idea of a fight for secularism in the Arab world and accounts from women on the effects of Palestinian and Israeli conflict on Lebanon, where nothing of the Arab Spring happened.
“I hope they got the idea that Arab women are involved,” Khalil said. She hoped that the presentation of the films and the discussions afterward serves as both a call for exposure and also a source of enjoyment.
Misbah Hyder, a junior government and politics student, said she really enjoyed being able to give her input and be surrounded by a dynamic discussion of such an event like the Arab Spring.
“I think this issue is really important and in the American media it is not really highlighted. It was nice to see what everyone else was thinking about,” she said.
Rameez Farooqui, government and politics graduate student, said he has studied about Arab Spring before but never talked about the gender and social issues involved in it.
He felt the discussion brought our ideas and issues surrounding all different aspects and concerns.
“It gave a good spectrum of the different issues of what people are talking about in the Arab world,” he said.
Believing she works as an example that outspoken Arab women do exist in real life, Khalil hopes her audiences sees her as such.
She hopes to expand in her academic work and artwork in where she can bring a connection between government and social issues and the arts. “I hope it inspired people to have a political vision on some things,” she said.