Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Comments From Atlanta Screening Host

I encountered this movie last year around the Golden Jubilee darbar time in America. A few friends (Ismaili and nonIsmaili both) and I had gotten together to watch the documentary as we had seen some things about it on Facebook. We of course have now watched this film a multiple times, but that first time we sat down to see it, we paused about 5 minutes into the movie and basically just tried to take in the captivating scene of the Tajik mountain scenes: it was truly breathtaking. We continued to watch but paused every 15-20 minutes to - believe it or not - analyze the movie scenes and discuss it in depth. Imagine, a group of college students who could be doing anything else in the world were sitting in our free time not only watching this movie but discussing our views and religious opinions. That first sitting lasted 6 hours!!! It is a great film and we watched it many times after (of course not always discussing it for that long!!)

A few months later when my arabic professor sent a message to us about the Aga Khan and the Ismailis being screened in Lebanon, I got really excited! I asked her where she had heard about this and she said Shamir was a student of hers in Lebanon. I got his contact information from her and ever since had been trying to get a film screening here at Emory University. When the MSA was planning Islam Awareness Month, I found my medium to bring Shamir and his film here!

With many events during the month of February, this film screening and Q&A was one of the most successful event and with one of the greatest turnouts. We had about 80 people come out to the event and actively participate in the Q&A. Students, Faculty, members of the Atlanta community and fellow Ismailis came out to view this film and afterwards were very impressed with the event as a whole. Students who had never seen the film or knew much about Ismailis, were in awe of the community and were very grateful that Shamir had come out to answer questions because it provided them with a first hand response from the producer who was present in the making. The founder of our Emory MSA, Isam Vaid, also had a few thoughts about the event: he was excited to finally see the plurality of our Muslim population and see the different faces of Islam present. Overall, this screening was a positive initiative for Emory's campus and I hope to have Shamir do other screenings (perhaps in Dallas my hometown!!!)

Heena Jiwani
Emory University
Goizueta Business School
Religious Studies

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