The Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition (MMWC) recently announced its 4th Annual Milwaukee Muslim Film Festival to be held from April 22 through May 7.
The event is one of America’s leading International Muslim Film Festivals, with the 2018 lineup screening 10 showings of 7 films at 4 venues in Milwaukee for free. Due to the generous support of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Mary Nohl Fund, the festival returns this year with an array of films that highlight the Muslim experience.
The intention of the festival has been to use film as a way to open conversations on topics that are relevant to matters occurring in the world today, and developing an informed dialogue regarding Muslims and the Islamic world.
“Milwaukee is one of only a few cities in the entire nation to have a Muslim Film Festival. With the extreme polarization that is happening in our country, experiences such as these are of vital importance to help build bridges of understanding and provide opportunities for dialogue in an artistic and communal environment,” said Janan Najeeb, President of the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition and the founder of the Milwaukee Muslim Film Festival. “Milwaukee is known for it’s wonderful ethnic festivals, maybe one day it will also be celebrated as the city that welcomes the greatest variety of unique film fests as well.”
The Milwaukee Muslim Film Festival has paved a way for award-winning motion pictures to be discovered by a local audience, while offering creative filmmakers the attention they deserve. Unique this year, in an effort to encourage student attendance and allow the films to be accessible to all, every show is free admission. Shows will be held at the UWM Union Theater, Marquette University’s Weasler Auditorium, Alverno College’s Wehr Auditorium and Cardinal Stritch University’s Shroeder Auditorium.
“Too often the conversation about Islam is based on bias news reports or movies where Muslims are portrayed as villains for the purpose of entertainment,” added Najeeb. “So we want to change this negative view and generate helpful and healing conversations. To do that the festival will feature serious films about current issues so the Milwaukee community has an open and safe opportunity to discuss them.”
Featured highlights this year range in topics, from the Academy Award nominated documentary about Syria’s Civil War to a biographical comedy-drama about the real-life relationship between Queen Victoria and her Indian Muslim servant.
The festival opens at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 22nd in the UW-Milwaukee Union Theater with a single showing of the Oscar nominated film on the Syrian tragedy, “Last Men in Aleppo.” The talkback will be by the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), American physicians that help run underground hospitals for civilians. Other films include “Victoria and Abdul,” the extraordinary and little known true story of the close friendship between Queen Victoria (Academy Award winner Judi Dench) and a young Indian clerk, Abdul Karim.
“The Judge” follows the remarkable career of Kholoud Al-Faqih, the first woman judge to be appointed to a Shari’a court in the Middle East, it will be followed by a talkback with Dr. Asifa Quraishi, a graduate of Harvard Law School, and currently a Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she teaches courses in Islamic law and U.S. constitutional law.
“By the Dawn’s Early Light” is a documentary on former NBA standout, Mahmoud Abdul Rauf, aka. Chris Jackson, who learned to live with Tourette Syndrome, overcome poverty, and rise above prejudice. He also converted to Islam. Unwilling to compromise his obligation as a Muslim to speak out against inequality and domination, he paid the price with his NBA career. The ACLU of WI will conduct the talkback at UWM and Dr. Debra Majeed, a Professor from Beloit College and a scholar on the Black Muslim experience will conduct the talkback at Marquette.
“Stitching Palestine” highlights the lives of Palestinian women in the Diaspora and how traditional embroidery kept their connection to their homeland. Showcasing of traditional Palestinian dresses will follow the film.
Films were selected from across the globe that transcend countries, languages, and cultures while highlighting the common humanity among people of all races, ethnicities, and religious beliefs.
The Milwaukee Muslim Film Festival is organized by the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition, a highly respected organization that has been a part of the Greater Milwaukee area for the past two decades.
By The Dawn’s Early Light (Chris Jackson’s Journey to Islam)
In 1996, basketball star Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (formerly Chris Jackson) caused a national stir when the NBA suspended him for refusing to stand during the national anthem. His stand ended up derailing his incredible but short lived career. This film re-examines the controversy and misrepresentations that gripped the NBA.
There will be a talk back with the ACLU of WI.
4/23/18 @ 7:00pm – UW-Milwaukee Union Cinema
5/03/18 @ 7:00pm – Marquette University
Last Men in Aleppo
Nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 2018 Academy Awards and winner of the Grand Jury documentary prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
After five years of war in Syria, Aleppo’s remaining residents prepare themselves for a siege. Khalid, Subhi and Mahmoud, founding members of The White Helmets, have remained in the city to help their fellow citizens-and experience daily life, death, struggle and triumph in a city under fire.
There will be a panel discussion after the film with SAMS, Syrian American Medical Society.
4/22/18 @ 2:00pm – UW-Milwaukee Union Cinema
Arranged centers on the friendship between an Orthodox Jewish woman and a Muslim woman who meet as first-year teachers at a public school in Brooklyn. Over the course of the year they learn they share much in common – not least of which is that they are both going through the process of arranged marriages.
There will be a panel discussion after the film.
5/07/18 @ 7:00pm – UW-Milwaukee Union Cinema
These Birds Walk
In Karachi, Pakistan, a runaway boy’s life hangs on one critical question: where is home? The streets, an orphanage, or with the family he fled in the first place? Simultaneously heart-wrenching and life-affirming, THESE BIRDS WALK documents the struggles of these wayward street children and the samaritans looking out for them in this ethereal and inspirational story of resilience
Talk back after the film
4/30/18 @ 7:00pm – UW-Milwaukee Union Cinema
Victoria and Abdul
Abdul Karim arrives from India to participate in Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee. The young clerk is surprised to find favor with the queen herself. As Victoria questions the constrictions of her long-held position, the two forge an unlikely and devoted alliance that her household and inner circle try to destroy. As their friendship deepens, the queen begins to see a changing world through new eyes, joyfully reclaiming her humanity.
5/04/18 @ 6:00pm – Marquette University
4/25/18 @ 7:00pm – Cardinal Stritch University
5/06/18 @ 2:00pm – UW-Milwaukee Union Cinema
The Judge follows the remarkable career of Kholoud Al-Faqih, the first woman judge to be appointed to a Shari’a court in the Middle East. The film offers a unique portrait of Judge Kholoud—from her journey as a young lawyer representing survivors of domestic violence, to her tenacious ability to maintain her position—showcasing the power of women’s leadership both in and outside of the courtroom.
Talk back after the film will include Dr. Asifa Quraishi, a graduate of Harvard Law School and currently a Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she teaches courses in Islamic law and U.S. constitutional law.
4/24/18 @ 6:00pm – Alverno College
Twelve Palestinian women talk of their lives before the Diaspora, their memories, and their identity, inter-connected by the ancient art and Palestinian cultural tradition of embroidery. Resilient and determined, the women are lawyers, artists, writers, housewives, activists, architects, and politicians who seek to stitch together the story of their homeland, their dispossession, and their unwavering struggle towards justice. There will be a showcasing of Palestinian dresses and embroidered items.
5/01/18 @ 6:00pm – Alverno College