Getting behind the headlines can be a humanizing experience. That’s what organizers of the Seventh Art Stand screening and discussion series hope will happen when you view their films about Muslim lives around the world. Named for the seven Muslim countries originally targeted for U.S. immigration and travel restrictions, the Seventh Art Stand experience is being presented in over fifty cities, including Honolulu. HPR’s Noe Tanigawa reports.
The seven countries originally included in U.S. travel restrictions: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Iraq was subsequently removed.
Hawai‘i J20+ presents a free screening of “The Last Men in Aleppo,” (World Documentary Grand Jury Prize Winner, Sundance Film Festival) on June 6, 4-6 pm. There will be a discussion with the filmmakers and a Syrian writer from 6-7 pm.
THE SEVENTH ART STAND is a nationwide screening and discussion series organized by film and marketing professionals as an act of cinematic solidarity against Islamophobia and anti-Muslim racism.
May 27-June 7, 2017 in the Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Museum of Art.
The short film Letters From Camp, directed by Frank Chi and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, will precede all film screenings.
In conjunction with the film series, the museum will offer tours of its Islamic gallery and special exhibition, Shazia Sikander: Paralax, after matinee screenings.
Syrian violinist, Mariela Shaker, has been in the U.S. for four years. She discovered the violin at 10 and left Aleppo to study music in Illinois when she was 23. Mariela, you say music was your life, your life was safe, easy before the civil war?
Shaker: I guess. It was peaceful before 2011. I felt really safe before the war.
How did people react when their comfortable lives started changing?
Shaker: What do you think we should do if we are stuck in the middle? No country is really willing to welcome us. Everyone just shut the door in front of these people. People they were protesting, people were not knowing what to do in such a situation. People were scared. People like me, students, going to universities to learn or going to music institutes to teach, just innocent people walking down the street not knowing if I would finish the day or not, if they will be killed or not.
Shaker: To lead a normal life, to go to my work, to go to my school, this is all I need, and I don’t think this is too much to ask for.
She sees her music as being a unifying force that transcends policy and politics, and it does inspire empathy, according to Taylour Chang, Director of the Doris Duke Theatre. Shaker’s music is just one facet of the Seven Art Stand which screens films that authentically represent the reality of Muslim lives—Fishing Without Nets, for example, reveals the daily grind for Somali pirates.
Chang: It’s emotional. When people come together, say in a theatre, and have an experience as a collective, that collective experience is actually quite a democratic one.
Last Men in Aleppo follows the White Helmets, ordinary citizens who are the first to enter demolished places to look for survivors.
Chang: The program is showcasing artists, filmmakers, musicians, performers, who are unafraid to express themselves around the travel ban, Islamophobia, anti-Muslim discrimination.
Mariela Shaker will perform Franck’s A Major Sonata with pianist Jonathan Korth, and follow with photos, storytelling and video from her home, Aleppo.
Find out what films and events are coming here.