The Reclaim The Name screening at Glasgow Short Film Festival 2019 is curated by Amima Muslim Women’s Resource Centre, along with Scottish filmmaker Raisah Ahmed. The selection of seven short films from around the world showcase different female Muslim directors and cover a variety of themes that subvert common misconceptions of Muslim women. The screening is followed by a discussion with One Day in Whitechapel director Seemab Gul and also a short poetry reading from Foyle Young Poet awardee Rumaisa Zubairi.
The first film this evening is Gaze (Iran/Italy, 2017) directed by Farnoosh Samadi. Here we follow a Muslim woman on a bus who witnesses a young man pickpocket another passenger. The anxiety that is conveyed grips the viewer and allows us to feel the torment and nerves that the protagonist faces. The tone of the screening changes with the following film in the programme. Switzerland is the focus of Letter to S. (Switzerland, 2015). Layla Abyad directs a short film that looks at the difference between Syria and Switzerland. The film is investigative in style with a voice narrating over documentary footage of peaceful protests and community groups who discuss refugees and representations of people from Syria. At times the film draws laughs as an older generation of Swiss people struggles to understand the young Muslim women in the community.
One Day in Whitechapel (UK, 2015), directed by Seemab Gul, exposes racist behaviour and takes place during a protest in London where members of the English Defence League harass a young Muslim woman. The film is loud, bold and gripping and uses drama to highlight how violence and harassment are commonplace. During the Q and A at the end of the screening, we learn that the director is an activist and the method in which the protests are shot shows how intimidating and menacing these situations can be. Seemab Gul puts us right within the action and we see the violence and distress up close.
After Sophie (USA, 2017) from director Minhal Baig is a mock documentary that draws on horror cinema and investigates the suicide of a teenager. Photographs and CCTV footage are employed to great effect to tell the story of the teenager who is personally absent in the film. The technique is clever and alienating and expresses the themes of identity in a moving method. Hopscotch (Scotland, 2017) is a film poem that exposes the abuse Muslim women receive on the streets of Scotland. It is a hard-hitting film that uses explosive language and abstract imagery. Hopscotch is written by poet Nadine Aisha Jassat and directed by Roxana Vlik. The film was developed in partnership with Amima and Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre and has been used as an educational tool to raise awareness of street harassment.
Fireplace (Syria/ Turkey/ USA, 2017), directed by Samah Safi Bayazid and Muhammad Bayazid is a claustrophobic tragedy drama. On Christmas Eve in Syria, a young boy hides in a fireplace during an air strike. The boy is trapped and we witness his torment, frustration, loneliness and suffering. The final film in the Reclaim The Name screening is a comedy with a serious message. Just One Night (USA, 2018) from director Sahar Jahani follows two Muslim women who visit a bar. The film asks questions of traditional dress, attitudes and friendship, as the pair try to navigate a space that is unfamiliar to them, but one they wish to occupy. The diverse selection of films shows the array of stories from around the world that highlight issues affecting Muslim women.