October 21, 2011
Saving Face vs. Getting to the Point
Tonight we held a screening of the award-winning films from the Festival at the Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts (RSICA). RSICA is one of the very few film schools in the Middle East region and is associated with the University of Southern California’s renowned School of Cinematic Arts. The panelists included Ammar Basha WVN filmmaker of “Breaking the Silence” and RSICA student, Amal Basha Yemeni activist head of the Arab Sisters Human Rights Forum since 2001, and a regional consultant for the International alliance at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Jordanian human rights attorney Mona Touqan.
It was quite a long event with an audience made up of film students and professors. The films were well received and the conversation was a lively one. The first reaction we received was from a professor who said we should be addressing why these issues are happening to women as opposed to always talking about what is happening. We responded that our experience has been, very surprisingly, that there are plenty of people that still don’t know (or are in denial) about the plight of women. That was evidenced in our discussions in Amman. Mona, the human rights attorney, jumped in with a lengthy commentary on how women on the whole live well in Jordan and that we often times over emphasize the problems which paints an unrealistic picture of life there. Amal responded to her co-panelists with a great deal of passion and upset. She said that when women play down the problems of their own gender then that takes away from any efforts to improve circumstances for everyone. “Have you considered our poor sisters in the villages and how they live?” she asked the attorney. The debate went back and forth but was finally interrupted so that we could take questions from the audience. The remainders of the questions were directed at the making of the films and the reasons behind the organizing of the Festival.
Director of Global Programs