Monday, February 11, 2008

Claremont Graduate University's Screening

I have to say it was really fun and interesting to be at the LA Screening of the film. President Robert Klitgaard and Dean Karen Torjesen of the Theological School gave warm introductions and after the film, there was a lively discussion.

From my last post I was wondering whether people in California had a different perspective on Islam and its relationship to the West but I did not get a definite answer to this as the audience was probably a self-selecting group. Those who are interested in Islam and/or the Aga Khan and the Ismailis came to see the film and for that reason they tended to have a good base of knowledge on the subject already.

Next time I will discourage weekend screening as I dont think they work too well at universities if one is aiming to get a packed and diverse audience. Claremont Graduate University had reserved approximately half the seats for students but as it was a Saturday (and a beautiful day), only some of them showed up. It is tough to get students to come to school on a weekday let alone on a weekend! But I did gather useful feedback from many who came, and it is interesting how this film has appealed to people across all age groups. Brief snippets of feedback, this is from a parent:

"I think every Ismaili must see this film as it can be used as a great tool to articulate and express some aspects of our faith. Specially our Ismaili youths here in USA really needed this. I will definitely recommend it to all I know."

From a young adult:
"While it may not have been said enough, you must be congratulated for the massive efforts you have made to start what I hope is a healthy debate and dialogue on Ismaili and wider Muslim identity and relations. "

A student:
"I think that the film is a very appropriate introduction to the uninformed about Ismailism, and positive Islamic values that are fundamentally held by a large number of Muslims, but which are swept under the rug by mainstream media."

Overall, it seems many people are concerned about the Muslim - non-Muslim world divide and trying to "figure it out." I am hopeful with the energy people have to wanting to learn more. One question that has come up before is: how do we get this film to the wider world? I said I am trying to get the film onto television in places such as America but without a secured broadcaster yet, it will be through the screenings people host and through bringing their friends and colleagues to them. With the DVD's, I hope people invite their workmates, classmates, and everybody else to view it with them in their homes. And have a discussion afterwards. This film is but a perspective showing but a side of Islam. How does the film touch on the bigger issues facing our world? What can each of us do to help play a role in solving the 'clash of ignorance'? Or you may disagree altogether and that there is a clash of another sort. Whatever the case: constructive dialogue is good.

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