SE Michigan News Vol 8 Iss 25

June 15, 2006 by  


Movie Review: Rana’s Wedding
Bloomfield Hills—June 9—The Bloomfield Unity Center screened Rana’s Wedding, a film about the ongoing conflict in Palestine, this past Friday night as a part of its continuing night-at-the-movies series.

About 30 people, representing many of the most committed supporters of the Unity Center, attended the event.

Rana’s Wedding is a political statement couched in the story of a young woman’s search for her identity and social place. The backdrop of the story is Jerusalem, where Rana lives with her father. Her mother has passed away, and she has reached the age of adulthood—the course of her life will be determined by the events of one day, when she must decide whether to marry one of the men recommended by a list composed by her father—respectable men with good jobs and good families who will be able to suppor her—or leave Jerusalem for Egypt with her father, or instead marry Khalid, the young theatre producer with whom she has fallen in love.

Within the first few minutes of the film she decides to marry Khalil, and the rest of the film is the story of the many difficulties she faces (roadblocks, nearly being killed by Israeli security forces after she yells, convincing Khalil to marry her, thinking through her own indecision on whether to marry Khalil, convincing her father to accept the wedding, and finding and collecting the required government servants to make the wedding possible). Through the course of the movie she faces each of these obstacles—finding and informing the comical Khalil, informing her father, and conducting a wedding ceremony underneath the oppressive scrutiny of occupation.

The tone of the film has frequent stylistic references to modernism, such as lapses in sound, Rana’s running through empty streets, deep emotional reactions on Rana’s part to seemingly insignificant social interactions—for instance in the early part of her search for Khalil she happens across three old or middle-aged men who stare at her—she then starts running haphazardly through the streets of the city. Some of the construction of the film is striking mainly for its contrast—the contrast of colors, the abstract nature of social interaction, a cacophany of reactions from Rana to different stimuli, and frequent footage of Israeli abuses and scrutiny that are jarring in relation to her seemingly amusing plight.

Her deep emotionalism may represent the angst of the Palestinian people in reaction to Israeli oppression. She discusses her fear of marrying Khalid in a scene in which armed Israeli soldiers demolish a house before her eyes with a bulldozer. She witnesses children who stone Israeli soldiers and who are in turn shot at (one child shot in the leg) by the soldiers, she witnesses a funeral of a child and, symbolically trapped in a car, frantically pounds on the car’s windows—finally seeing, apparently, a vision of the dead boy looking at her before she breaks out of the trance—and then opening her door to see Khalil and his friend making faces and entertaining her. She breaks down in reaction to a surveillance camera which turns voyeuristically to watch her when she sits with her husband-to-be.

If she represents the Palestinian people, then Khalil is the Palestinians’ escape through entertainment from the Israeli oppression. The core scene which shows this is his reaction to the surveillance camera—for which he puts on a several minutes’ long theatrical show of defiance and humor which brings Rana laughing from her anguish.

This is an extremely political film, which ends with a poem by Mahmoud Darwish, who once belonged to the PLO, which poem calls for violent resistance to Israeli oppression. The story is interesting, and it is wonderful to see the beautiful streets, ruins and buildings of Jerusalem on film. Unfortunately, the film is a little bit too heavy-handed in its references, betraying a deep resentment that is not enjoyable to absorb over the two hours of time it takes to view the movie. You may enjoy the movie, but more as a political statement, less as a movie.

Current Events Discussion—Bloomfield Unity Center

Bloomfield Hills—June 11—Participants of many backgrounds and at least two faith groups joined in the weekly Current Events discussion sponsored by Imam Sallie at the Bloomfield Unity Center on Sunday from 11 until 12pm.

Imam Sallie, now of the Bloomfield Unity Center and formerly of IAGD, began the current events discussion group several years ago and has continued it until today.

The group is a small one, focusing on issues as determined by Imam Sallie, and exploring the participants’ views on those issues in a thoughtful and contemplative manner. It is like a free-range college seminar on current events as they are related to Muslims. The subject of discussion on Sunday was “freedom,” and what that word means to different people.

Present were several long-term participants representing many parts of the world, including among other regions Bosnia, Pakistan, Indonesia, and America. The group’s core group has remained about the same size for several years, with many people coming and going around that core nucleus. They show deep familiarity with one another, and a level of brotherhood deeper than that commonly found between most Muslims—perhaps because of their having explored deep issues on an open-minded basis over such a long period of time.

Perhaps one of the most interesting statements in Sunday’s discussion was by one member of the discussion group, who said in describing the tragedy of his own Bosnian people that in fact it was an essential thought process for people to look to themselves to solve their problems, not to look outside to other people although those outsiders may have the tools and clout to solve problems quickly—he said that people tend to “externalize responsibility;” unable to see our own responsibility, we look outside for our solutions when in fact “the most important thing” is an internal process of how each person thinks about himself.

Imam Sallie’s role in these discussions is apparently to broaden the minds of the participants, bringing to their attention distinctions that they might not otherwise be conscious of, moderating the speeches of those present, and bringing everyone present into engagement with each discussion through pointed questions. He emphasizes that no participant is able to speak on behalf of an entire religion, which serves also to humble and moderate the discussion.

He tries to prevent those present from being excluded. For instance, he tried to show the discussion participants how their statements might sometimes unconsciously exclude or alienate other discussion participants, and tried also to show that groups not generally known by Muslims (like Christians) are in fact composed of many different groups, some of which have belief structures similar to our own (for instance, he said that Baptists do not drink or eat pork).

The current events group is open to those who want to attend, and meets every Sunday at 11:00 am in the Bloomfield Unity Center’s imam’s office.

IIK Hosts Interfaith Debate

Dearborn—June 10—At 5 pm the IIK hosted a Muslim-Christian dialog about the real identity of Jesus (as). The group that hosted the event was “F12,” whose name reflects that the F12 group aims to follow the examples and teachings of the 12 imams of Shi’a Islam.

The panelists included, representing Christianity, Pastor Moss Jr., Reverend Haythem Abi Haydar, and Jamie Campbell. Muslims were represented by Imam Joad al-Ansari, Sayed Hajj Hassan Sobh, and Br. Abdulrasheed Shamseddin. The MC was Hajj Mohammed Beydoun, who introduced all of the panelists. The moderator was Hajj Khalil Khazan. Each panel had 20 minutes for their opening remarks and the rebuttals were 15 minutes per group. Closing remarks were 10 minutes for each group. Each panel couched its arguments in verses of the Holy Qur`an and the Bible.

Following the debate, refreshments were served.

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