The Cost of Feminism

Lynne Rogers

Unveiled Views: Muslim Women Artists Speak Out
Directed by Alba Sotorra
Women Make Movies, 2009

In the documentary, “Unveiled Views”, Muslim feminists with and without the veil, speak of their costly pursuance of art and freedom.  In Turkey, the glamorous and tenacious Eren Keskin, a human rights attorney with a classically trained singing voice, withstands constant death threats, imprisonment and harassment as she perseveres in the struggle to resist repression of Muslim rights.  Iranian filmmaker, Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, disappointed with post-revolutionary reforms, looks to the media “to inform, to educate and to expose those issues they prefer to keep silent.”  The film footage of adorable teenage girls illegally “cruising” illustrates Bani-Etemad’s sympathy for her country’s restricted youth.  She resolutely confesses that, “Unfortunately my hands are too small to take the world into my arms.”  In Bosnia, Alma Suljevic, an artist and demining activist, refuses to be a victim and instead commits herself to creating a “bigger space for mankind.” Tense footage shows her at work cleaning the minefields where Bosnian children play football.  Later, as she travels through Europe exhibiting her work, she sells potted jars of soil from the minefields to finance further demining.  The camera then looks at a family of admirable sisters in Afghanistan who have grown up with war.  While this episode of the documentary is slightly confusing, the clips of the young woman reading her poetry and her older sister discussing the needs of her community in their confined spaces are both quite moving. The film concludes with the Pakistani dancer, Nahid Siddiqui who went from a young dancer with her own weekly television show to a political exile when the military government banned dance and accused her of spreading “Indian” culture.  Still a vibrant artist, Siddiqui returns to Pakistan to teach the beauty and independence offered by dance.  All of these courageous artists offer a response to military repression with a commitment to beauty motivated by a humanistic patriotism that does not ignore the past but looks to the future. 

This review appeared in Vol.16, No. 62, (2010).

Copyright © 2010 by Al Jadid

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