From March 17 through 19, Los Angeles will host a forceful three-day run of Women’s Voices from the Muslim World: A Short-Film Festival. The festival is organized and hosted by Women’s Voices Now, a New York organization founded in January 2010, and will give voice to “women of all faiths living in Muslim-majority countries and Muslim women living as minorities around the world.”
Women’s Voices Now uses film as a platform for discussing and advancing the global struggle for women’s civil, economic, and political rights. Its website features an extensive library of movies—from student submissions (some filmed with cell phones) to professionally produced shorts. From such a diverse group of filmmakers comes an excitingly varied set of films. Anisah, for example, follows the trials of an Acehnese woman recently assigned as the first female subdistrict head of the town of Plimbang in Indonesia. Local clerics denounce and challenge the legitimacy of her rule in the name of sharia law, which mandates that women never be placed in leadership roles. Inside Out, another submission, examines the right of women to “purposelessly” explore and enjoy Mumbai’s public spaces. In Mumbai, women remain beholden to outdated expectations about fashion and behavior, expectations that limit the free enjoyment of public domains. How hard, the film tests, can a woman push back against these expectations? More than 50 films have been submitted and are freely available online for viewing and voting.