(K. Brent Tomer),
IN 2012, Haifaa al-Mansour became the first Saudi Arabian woman to direct a film. Hidden in a minivan while shooting outdoor scenes, she gave instructions via headset, lest onlookers be offended by the sight of a woman giving directions to men. She is perhaps unusual, but not alone, in her bravery. World cinema is laying some promising new ground for women film-makers from Muslim and Middle Eastern backgrounds. These emerging artists are not only exploring stories of girlhood, but also pulling world independent film out of impenetrable arthouse aesthetics and back into the real world.
In “Mustang”, the Turkish-French Deniz Gamze Ergüven takes on patriarchy from the perspective of five adolescent orphan sisters. A neighbour sees the girls play-fighting in the sea with male classmates. The girls’ grandmother and guardian—anxious of gossip and under pressure from the girls’ uncle to make sure “those girls turn out right”—reads sexuality in the innocent play, and chastises them. The girls find themselves stuck in a strict regime stuffing vine leaves and embroidering modest dresses. By the time suitors begin to call,…Continue reading