February 18, 2008

Middle Eastern Women Directors Use Films as Social Commentary

Check out this Christian Science Monitor piece: Women Directors Use Films as Social Commentary about three women directors from the middle east and how they are using their films to speak out about issues in their oppressive cultures.

In the Middle East, women have a new voice: the movies. As nascent film industries bloom in the region, a few emerging women directors are probing some of the most delicate subjects within their male-dominated communities, giving viewers a glimpse into once-veiled worlds.
The directors discussed are: Israeli Arab Ibtisam Maraana; Buthina Canaan Khoury of the Palestine Territories and Haifaa Al-Mansour of Saudi Arabia (which has no movies theaters)
Mansour didn't intend to focus her filmmaking career on women's issues, but found the issues too important not to address. She began her filmmaking career making a seven-minute short, "Who?," in which a man disguised as a women – i.e., dressed in a traditional black, full-body covering called the abaya – stalks women and enters their homes.
"Women typically appreciate my movies and want to have a forum for these important issues," she says. But men, especially, surprisingly, educated ones, feel threatened."
Maraana compares her filmmaking to going to war.

Buthina Canaan Khoury, a Christian Palestinian filmmaker from the West Bank town of Taybeh, is used to pioneering unchartered territory. She was the first Palestinian camera woman and producer for the European Broadcasting Union inside the Palestinian Territories. Now the head of her own Majd Production Company, she has nothing less than a filmmaking agenda: to highlight key Palestinian issues.