Film and Video

There is an extraordinary collection of 47 Magic Lantern slides from the 1930 Beloit College Logan Museum Expedition to Algeria by George L. Waite, the photographer and cinematographer. This is available in an online collection at the website of the Smithsonian Institution. Click here to access the collection.


In October, 2013, the main Yazidi religious festival at Lalish Temple in Iraqi Kurdistan was cancelled, due to security reasons. A film was made about this by EPOS and the trailer is available on Youtube.

There is an extraordinary cartoon video on Vimeo that gives the historical background to the current battle in Gaza. Check it out here. And God bless Andy Williams.

The Egyptian intellectual Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 67, made a major contribution to the study of the Qur’an and other important aspects of Islam, for which he was branded an apostate in Egypt. For a summary of his life with links to videos and major works, check out the page on him in the series of “A Profile from the Archives” on al-Jadaliyya. For a film on his thinking, Youtube has the Lebanese film في إنتظار أبو زيد .

Here is a Youtube trailer for an environmental documentary film about Yemen, produced by Tony Milroy of Arid Lands and Sustainable Communities Trust for the Channel 4 series ‘Fragile Earth’.

by Anouar Majid, Tingiata, April 15, 2014

The most controversial actress in Morocco and the Arab world gave me a tour of Rabat, the capital of Morocco. To say that it was a unique experience would, quite frankly, be a huge understatement. Parking attendants, men in uniform, women with hijabs and jellabas, food sellers and everyone—literally—who saw Latefa greeted her with smiles and affection. People took photographs with her and asked for new performances. She is truly a people’s artist, one who uses a container (labelled “cont’n’art”), among other tools, to foster awareness about health and difficult social issues.

The car ride, as you could see in the video, was, in itself, a fascinating spectacle. The free-spirited Latefa sang throughout most of trip, ending, most appropriately, with the theme of Carmen, reminding us that women are born to be free, not objects to be hidden away.

When I was young and impressionable, one of my favorite movies was They Died with their Boots On, the Errol Flynn movie about Custer’s last stand. There was Flynn/Custer with his sword raised out in front of his troops heading for the savage Indians. Had it been a fair fight, of course he would have won, but he stood his ground and was the last man standing. Watching this film recently, apart from the totally ahistorical plot of the made-for-Hollywood battle scene, I wonder how many horses were maimed from the trip wires. In a sense Flynn represented a hero against impossible odds, but in another it perpetuated the notion of the white man’s manifest destiny at the expense of the savage “red man.” I doubt it inspired any sarsparilla party types to go out and shoot any Indians, but it certainly reinforced a cultural bias that remains to this day.

I recently came across a film about the death of Husayn, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, at Karbala. This comes in Arabic and Urdu versions and is entitled “The Caravan of Pride” (موكب الاباء). Like the Flynn film, the bias in the film is evident from the start. This is a film highlighting the conservative Shi’a view of an evil and crazed Yazid. Watching the film creates sympathy for the tragic death of Husayn and his followers at the same time that it denigrates the incoming Umayyad caliphs as heretics. It is easy to forget that the event taking place happened in 61 AH/680 CE, before there were any of the Sunni law schools and five years before Abd al-Malik became caliph and authorized a new edition of the Qur’an. (more…)

What do a new film about the biblical Noah, who built the ark, and the Muslim Brotherhood have in common? Both have been banned in Egypt. Muhammad Morsi, the stealth brother who was elected president of Egypt, was removed from office last July (one day before we in America celebrated our revolution). On December 25 (the consummate day for thinking about peace one earth), Egypt declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. Now along comes Noah, at least the latest Hollywood version, with Russell Crowe donning the mantle (at least the biblical robe variety) of Charlton Heston and providing a robust challenge to John Huston’s whimsical Noah in The Bible. The major Egyptian Islamic institution, al-Azhar, has issued a fatwa condemning the film for depicting the Prophet Noah (who has an entire chapter devoted to him in the Quran). Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have already officially banned the film and Egypt is likely to follow suit, given the fatwa. (more…)

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