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  (Unavailable) Lebanon: Bits and Pieces
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film_image LEBANON: BITS AND PIECES is an exquisitely beautiful and profoundly moving exploration of the myths and realities of present-day Lebanon, as reflected through the voices of women. During Olga Nakkas’ childhood, Lebanon was known to the outside world as an exemplary model of peace in the heart of an Arab Middle East dominated by dictators. Following a seven year absence, Nakkas returned to Lebanon with a camera to record the dreams, disappointments and worries of women of her own generation and to meet a younger generation of women whose only memory is that of war. Through these voices, Nakkas’s own voyage of rediscovery is revealed — rediscovery of her country and of herself.

  Covered: The Hijab in Cairo
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film_image Just over a decade ago it was hard to find women on the streets of Cairo who veiled, a custom that their forebears struggled to overthrow at the beginning of the twentieth century. But today, many Muslim women in Egypt wear a head scarf called the hijab, and in more extreme cases they cover their entire faces. This absorbing documentary offers a rare opportunity to examine the restoration of veiling and the reasons for its pervasiveness through the eyes of Egyptian women. In unique interviews with women of different ages and backgrounds, "Covered" reveals that Islamic tradition, religious fundamentalism, and growing nationalism are not solely responsible for decisions to wear the hijab. Diverse social, economic and political factors, as well as personal preferences, often play prominent roles. As timely as it is compelling, the film shows how complex causes account for a phenomenon that is poorly understood outside the Muslim world.

  Death in Gaza
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film_image The harrowing documentary that portrays the horror of the Israeli conflict and the resulting death of its director, James Miller.

  Enemies of Happiness
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film_image "In September 2005, Afghanistan held its first parliamentary elections in 35 years. Among the candidates for 249 assembly seats was Malalai Joya, a courageous, controversial 27-year-old woman who had ignited outrage among hard-liners when she spoke out against corrupt warlords at the Grand Council of tribal elders in 2003. "Enemies of Happiness" is a revelatory portrait of this extraordinary freedom fighter and the way she won the hearts of voters, as well as a snapshot of life and politics in war-torn Afghanistan."- Caroline Libresco, "Sundance Film Festival"

  Four Women of Egypt
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film_image In this engaging, often hilarious documentary exploration of the contradictions and conflicts in modern-day Egypt, there is little the four women of the title, socialist Amina, grassroots activist Shahenda, Christian Wedad and Muslim journalist Safinaz agree on, but nothing they won't discuss. Despite their wildly divergent backgrounds, these vivacious, articulate women maintain a deep and committed friendship, arguing openly but with tolerance for their differences.

  Hidden Faces
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film_image Originally intended as a film about internationally renowned feminist writer Nawal El Saadawi, HIDDEN FACES develops into a fascinating portrayal of Egyptian women’s lives in Muslim society. In this collaborative documentary, Safaa Fathay, a young Egyptian woman living in Paris, returns home to interview the famed writer and activist, but becomes disillusioned with her. Illuminated by passages from El Saadawi’s work, the film follows Fathay’s journey to her family home and discovers similar complex frictions between modernity and tradition. Her mother’s decision to return to the veil after twenty years and her cousins’ clitoriectomies reveal a disturbing renewal of fundamentalism. This absorbing documentary broaches the contradictions of feminism in a Muslim environment; a startling, unforgettable picture of contemporary women in the Arab world.

  Maria's Grotto
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film_image A gripping portrait of women, whose lives were dictated by a moral code, Maria's Grotto is a painful true film about the issue of honor killings in Palestine . Khoury explores the issue through the stories of four women: one is wrongly accused of dishonoring her family and then murdered; the second dies after being forced by her brothers to swallow poison; the third survives repeated stabbings inflicted by her brother; and the fourth is a Hip-hop singer who dares speak out about honor killings, and faces death threats. Through these stories, Khoury exposes the magnitude of honor killings in Palestine.

  My Country My Country
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film_image The director follows a Sunni Ara doctor as he prepares to run for the early 2005 elections in Iraq. Six months in Iraq, culminating in the national election on January 30, 2005. We watch logistic preparations for the election, with UN, US, Australian, and local personnel unsure if the election will be held as scheduled, bracing for violence and for world attention. We also cut back and forth to Dr. Riyadh, a Sunni physician who practices at the Adhamiya Free Clinic and prays at the Abu Hanifa Mosque. He's an Iraqi Islamic Party candidate for the Baghdad Provincial Council; he visits Abu Ghraib prison and speaks out. We meet his wife and daughters: the family is cheerful, ironic, and droll. Will his party participate in the elections? Will he vote? Is his family safe?

  My Heart is My Witness
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film_image MY HEART IS MY WITNESS, by renowned French-Canadian filmmaker, Louise Carré, investigates the status of women in Islam through interviews with men and women from Mali, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Though often caricatured in the Western media as a homogenous group of veiled subordinates, this documentary shows the diversity of Muslim women, informed by both religion and culture. In Mali, women speak of the comfort afforded by their religion, while at the same time recognizing that Islam is abused by men to thwart women’s development. Though women maintain important roles in the economy and educational system, the intersection of religion and local culture facilitates their subservience within the polygamous society. In Morocco, while some put their faith and conviction in Islam and its proscriptions, others believe that only education and struggle can help women. This sentiment, that “Women’s rights are never given, they are always fought for,” is echoed by women from Algeria and Tunisia. Punctuated by reports of violence against women as reported in letters written by an Algerian woman, this moving and stirring exploration of women’s rights and restrictions in Northern Africa and the Arabic peninsula helps us understand these women’s lives, struggles and dreams.

  Nazrah: A Muslim Woman's Perspective
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film_image NAZRAH: A Muslim Woman’s Perspective is an intimate look at a diverse group of Muslim women living in the US Pacific Northwest. By creating a forum where Muslim women can freely engage in an open dialogue about complex issues, filmmaker Farah Nousheen exposes a vast and fascinating array of thoughts and ideas. The women discuss their views on Islam, current political events and how they reflect on the image of Islam in the West. The women also talk about the difficulty of achieving equality within the Muslim community while also fighting stereotypical portrayals of Muslim women in the US media. NAZRAH (the Arabic word for "perspective") also includes director Farah Nousheen's own views on being a Muslim woman at a time when Islam is in the international spotlight.

This collection of international films and documentaries is used exclusively by students and faculty of the School World Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. The World Studies Media Center strictly adheres to the copyrights and fair use guidelines of all titles housed in this collection.

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