Promoting cultural connections through the camera lens

 
Liam Ward-Proud
FOR ABDUL-REHMAN Malik, organiser of the International Film Showcase, running this week at the World Islamic Economic Forum, cinema is an ideal medium for bridging the gap between East and West.

“Many of the films explore what it means to be a Muslim in the modern world,” he says. “How does a strong cultural identity sit with modernity and globalisation? But what’s really fascinating is how well the screenings go down with non-Muslims.”

Take Material, a South African film about a young Muslim man’s quest to make it as a comedian against the wishes of his father. Its main theme is the perception of tensions between a traditional Islamic upbringing, and the aspirations of a new generation. But the film was a hit among all types of audiences, sweeping the South African Oscars and winning multiple other awards.

“What speaks to audiences is authenticity,” says Malik, “and films like this help to humanise a faith that is alien to some.” Complementing the discussions at the main Forum, the festival is seeking to give a human face to the challenges facing ordinary Muslims in a fast-changing world.

Located just outside the entrance to the main auditorium, the International Film Showcase runs today from 10am to 7pm.