Muslim Cinema


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Muslim Cinema is the third presentation in the series about Muslims and Film. It covers the history and state of Cinema in Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, and Sub-Saharan Africa as well as those films made by or about Muslims in other countries.

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Muslim Cinema

  1. 1. Muslim Cinema Javed Mohammed Writer-Producer Writer- Muslims and Media Part 3 Changing the world one story at a time Copyright 2009
  2. 2. Agenda Overview Turkish Cinema Egyptian & Arab Cinema Cinemas of Sub-Saharan Africa Iranian Cinema Pakistani Cinema French-Algerian Cinema
  3. 3. What is Muslim vs Islamic Cinema? There is no definition so here is one. “Muslim Cinema is a film movement by or about Muslims.” Javed Mohammed “Islamic Cinema is film that conforms to Islamic laws, customs and values.” Javed Mohammed
  4. 4. Muslim Cinema: Hard to describe As the 1 Billion+ Muslims are spread across 48 Muslim majority countries plus With hundreds of dialects and languages From Morocco to Indonesia Other than faith there is no common theme, or narrative that can describe Muslim Cinema
  5. 5. Muslim Cinema Definitely some countries have a stronger culture, affinity or presence wrt films For others film presents a moral issue. Film has images and sounds that are many times graphic, show nudity, sex, violence, vulgar language, sensual music all which oppose the beliefs and values of the Islamic faith.
  6. 6. Turkish Cinema
  7. 7. Turkish Cinema Turkish film industry is known as Yeşilçam (quot;Green Pinequot;) in the same way that Hollywood refers to American film.
  8. 8. Starting Off Turkey got the same start as the West to cinema in the 20th century. With the defeat of the Ottoman caliphate, Ataturk moved a country from Islam to Secular rule. 1896–1945 Film production sporadic. Averaged one film per year. However Film production wasn't continuous until around the 1950s A couple of companies then dominated the scene and addressed population-dense and profitable cities such as Istanbul and Izmir Strong import presence from the USA, France, Italy and Germany After WW2 major shift, 49 films made in 1952 In 1960s, Turkey became the 5th biggest film producer reached the 300 films mark at start of 70s.
  9. 9. A Paradigm shift TV and Video caused next major shift and popularity of those mediums in 70s and economic crisis caused film production to free fall. Ticket sales, dropped in 80s and 90s from 90M in 1966 to 11M in 1990 Number of theaters fell 2000 theatres in 1966 to 290 in 1990 In 1990s the average number of films produced fell to 10-15 films some not making it to the theatres.
  10. 10. Last decade of Revival Since 1995 situation has improved. After year 2000, ticket sales reached the 20 millions Number of theatres increased to over 500 nation-wide. Turkish films attract millions of spectators and top the blockbuster-lists, often surpassing foreign films in terms of ticket sales. Today there is no film industry per se, but individual projects whose distribution is handled by foreign companies
  11. 11. Time line of Turkish Cinema 1914 First film made by a Turk in Turkey. 1922 Kemal Film (Seded Brothers) is the first feature film production company in Turkey. 1928-1941 Ipek Films (Ipekci Brothers) monopolizes Turkish film production. 1964 The first Antalya Film Festival awards its first quot;Golden Orangequot; for best film to Gurbet Kuslari (Birds of Nostalgia) directed by Halit Refig. Susuz yaz (Dry Summer) wins Best Film at the Berlin Film Festival. 1982 Yol shares the Palme d'Or at Cannes (with Missing by Costa Gravas). 2003 Uzak (Distant) wins Grand Prize and Best Actor at Cannes. 2007 (April) 25th International Istanbul Film Festival
  12. 12. Turkish film maker: Nuri Bilge Ceylan Ceylan's films have often been described as high art Minimalist movies with an extremely low budget Won 18 awards for Uzak (Distant)
  13. 13. Egyptian Cinema
  14. 14. Overview 1930 and 1936, various small studios produced at least 44 feature films. In 1936, Studio Misr, emerged as the leading studio for 3 decades 1940s & 50s Golden age of Arab cinema based out of Cairo Popular films with heroes and happy endings Major transition from silent era of 1920s to sound. 3/4s of Arab films since 1908 are Egyptian Cairo is famous for International Film Festival
  15. 15. A little history 1966, the Egyptian film industry nationalized: Stifled creativity 1970s, Egyptian films struck a balance between politics, entertainment, and audience appeal. 1970s and 1980s Egyptian film industry in decline. Formula movies Decline from 100 films per year at peak to ~12/year in 1995 1997 small comedy revival with quot;Ismailia Rayeh Gayy“ Rest of 1990s Status quo remains with little support from government and low budget, low production value films. A few small hits, but Western and other Bollywood films have greater impact.
  16. 16. Egyptian Cinema Today In 1997,16 films Revival in Egyptian Cinema There are Film schools and now over 40 directors In 2007 risen to 40 films and box office reaches $50M American movies comparatively earned $10M
  17. 17. Egyptian film maker : Youssef Chahine Prolific Egyptian film director Born 1926 and active in the Egyptian film industry since 1950. Launched career of actor Omar Sharif Won many awards including Lifetime award at Cannes Made many films including the epic Al Nasser Salah Ad-Din (The Victorious Saladin) - 1963
  18. 18. Arab Cinema Besides Egypt, smaller cinema in Syria, Morocco, and Algeria
  19. 19. Syrian-American Film maker:Moustapha Akkad Attended UCLA and USC film schools Made Epic films Mohammad, Messenger of God and Lion of the Desert, Plus for Western audiences commercially successful Halloween series
  20. 20. Cinemas of Sub-Saharan Africa
  21. 21. Cinemas of Sub-Saharan Africa Cinema in Africa been there for over 85 years Strong colonial influence, Colonial Film Units (CFU) Early 1960s indigenous cinema starts to appear
  22. 22. Some History Effort started with minimal financial and technical resources and amateur actors Following Sembene’s lead other Senegales directors followed. Spread to Niger, Cameroon, Mali, Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. Government of France has provided aid to help film production (however price is control and censorship)
  23. 23. Senegalese film maker: Sembene Ousmane quot;Father of African film” Director, producer and writer. Themes: history of colonialism, the failings of religion, the critique of the new African bourgeoisie, and the strength of African women. 2004 feature Moolaadé, won awards at the Cannes Film Festival explored subject of female genital mutilation.
  24. 24. Cinema of Iran
  25. 25. Cinema of Iran Persians have long history of literature and mythology Early Persian/Iranian cinema made its debut at start of the 20th century. Got off to a slow start first film school in 1925 and by 1930s just 15 theaters in Tehran
  26. 26. Cinema of Iran 1930s and 40s slow progress with influence from English films Shah of Iran did not particularly support film industry But by 1960s 25 films/year and by 1970 65/year. Mainly melodrama and thrillers In 1965 a new genre of popular film: the tragic action drama
  27. 27. Post-revolutionary Iranian cinema Style: Long (slow) takes, Frugal ordinary lives, No graphic content Minimalist and Neo- Relalist, Art Cinema Little melodrama. Some Popular cinema too for broader audiences. Heavy censorship
  28. 28. Post-revolutionary Iranian cinema Follow strong Muslim edicts about not showing Women who expose their bodies (except hands and face) Dressed in revealing clothes Any physical contact (including kissing) between men and women Vulgar or Sensual or Sexual dialogue Negative portrayal of state, police, army etc. Foreign music
  29. 29. Post-revolutionary Iranian cinema Pre-Production permit validates script Post-Production checks film and gives different ratings allowing full PR, peak viewing or no PR, limited viewing, to banned.
  30. 30. The big picture In spite of censorship Iran has contributed to world cinema with strong directors Abbas Kiarostami won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival for “Taste of Cherry” in 1997. Persian films have been nominated for Oscars and won awards at Berlin and Venice film festivals
  31. 31. The big picture Approx 130 films screened per year Common themes are revolution (and its after effects), the Iran-Iraq war, social problems Western films are shown but only ones that are classics and ones that have been censored/edited. The Government also funds ethnic cinema, eg Kurdistan, Afghan and other areas where Iran has influence .
  32. 32. Iran New Wave 1960s, art films with highly political and philosophical tones and poetic language. New Wave are Abbas Kiarostami, Jafar Panahi, Majid Majidi, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Tahmineh Milani, Samira Makhmalbaf, and many more. Strong intellectual and political movements Strong influence of Italian Neorealism Baran by Majid Majidi
  33. 33. Festivals The Fajr Film Festival has taken place since 1983 and is a major festival . successful in making policies and setting examples for the future of Iranian cinema. In 2005, the festival added competitions for Asian as well as spiritual films. The top prize is called Crystal Simorgh
  34. 34. Iranian Film maker: Majid Majidi Writer, Producer and Director As of 2004 Majidi only Iranian director nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film with the film Children of Heaven in 1998. Other award winning films include Baran, The Color of Paradise
  35. 35. Cinema of Pakistan
  36. 36. Cinema of Pakistan Pakistan gained independence in 1947. In the divide a lot of the talent, skilled workers (and equipment) left for Bombay from (1947-58) Still had 5 Studios in Lahore, Karachi and Dhaka (in East Pakistan)
  37. 37. Cinema of Pakistan Made films in Urdu the national language but also in dialects of Punjabi (largest), Bengali, Pashto (smaller), Balochi and Sindhi. Local films and films from India were shown in Pakistan till 1952 Most films non- political Pakistan’s film industry always been over shadowed by neighbor India and Bollywood.
  38. 38. Golden age (1959–1969) The '60s decade is often cited as being the golden age of cinema in Pakistan. In 1962, film aka Martyr, pronounced the Palestine issue on the silver screen and became an instant hit. Some talent left for overseas In 1965, war between India and Pakistan, all Indian films completely banned Waheed Murad stepped in as top talent becoming one of the top talents in the Pakistani film industry
  39. 39. The Decline starts (Seventies) In 1971 war with India, East Pakistan lost and becomes independent Bangladesh. Dhaka (Bengal film center and industry lost) Competition from Bollywood, led to further decline Mid-Seventies brings VCR and film piracy 1977, PM Bhutto arrested and General Zia- ul-Haq becomes president on strong wave of Islamic support Islamic laws introduced, cinemas closed and entertainment taxes imposed.
  40. 40. Downfall (Eighties) and Collapse (Nineties) Output dropped from 98 films in 1979 (42 Urdu), to 58 films (26 Urdu) in 1980. A few one-hit wonders eg In 1979 Punjabi cult classic Maula Jatt. Growing censorship policies. Punjabi films overshadow Urdu cinema. By the early '90s, the annual output dropped to around 40 films, all produced by a single studio Production falls to 32 films in 2003 Film studios decline preferring short-plays, and TV dramas for cable TV
  41. 41. Revival (2003–present) In 2003 Young film makers demonstrated that with limited resources they can produce quality films In 2005 pressure to lift ban on Bollywood films in Pakistan. Mughal-e-Azam re-released in India and shown in Pakistan Geo TV backs effort “Revival of Pakistani Cinema” In 2007 large budget film Khuda Ke Liye a controversial film that addresses fundamentalism, war on terror, forced marriage and other issues becomes block buster film in Pakistan and is shown in India (after a four decade ban.)
  42. 42. Shoaib Mansoor Written, produced and directed hit TV shows Directed “Khuda Ke Liye” Only film to be released in Pakistan and India Joint Venture between Pakistan, India, and US.
  43. 43. Muslim-Minority Films Muslims are sizable minorities in many countries In India over 13% Muslim In France 9% They are in making contributions to cinema
  44. 44. Muslim-Minority Films In Bollywood (India) Mughal-e- Azam an Epic set in the Moghul empire was directed, by K. Asif and starred Dilip Kumar and Madhubala (both Muslims) The film was funded by an Indian company
  45. 45. Muslim-Minority Films Indigènes: How French army treated North African soldiers by Rachid Bouchareb French director of Algerian parentage Plot: During WWII, four North African men enlist in the French army to liberate that country from Nazi oppression, and to fight French discrimination.
  46. 46. An all-American film Syriana by Stephen Gaghan American director Plot: A politically- charged epic about what Western industry, and Intelligence will do in the mid-east to protect their interests.
  47. 47. Conclusion Cinema in the Muslim world is diverse. The major cinemas include Turkish, Egyptian & Arab Cinema, Sub- Saharan Africa, Iranian, Pakistani and “Other” Cinema.
  48. 48. Conclusion Each Cinema has gone through its birth, rise and golden- age, decline, and now revival. Search, Watch and share good Muslim Cinema To see other presentations on Islam, Muslims and Film see “From Hollywood to Bollywood” “Muslims and Media” On SlideShare by Javed Mohammed Send any comments to
  49. 49. References WikiPedia The Web The Oxford History of World Cinema Asian Cinema: A Field Guide by Tom Vick Contemporary World Cinema by Shohini Chaudhuri