Reframing Islam

• The Kebab Man: The story of Ahmad Al Karanouh who moved to a small NSW town, opened a kebab store, and became mayor.

PERTH will be hosting the only live screenings oft the Muslim Film Festival this year.

Festival executive producer Tarek Chamkhi said the Covid risk made gatherings in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney too problematic this year, but Perth was still going ahead “due thanks to the state government for the measures which have made us all safe in this beautiful state”.

Films will be shown at Backlot Theatre, the state library theatre and the Canning Town Hall.

Festival director Joanne McKeown says they’ve picked 55 films from 24 countries: 

“We were surprised with the huge diversity of Muslim communities worldwide, from the African continent, to Iranian villages, to the streets of Chicago, the freezing prairie of the Russian Federation, and last but not least the kebab man from the outback of NSW.”

The Kebab Man tells the story of Ahmad ‘Al’ Karanouh, who left Lebanon amid the war and moved to rural NSW where he took a punt on a pop-up kebabbery to cash in on the Coonamble rodeo and eventually became the town’s mayor.  

“We hope that watching our films will break down prejudice and misconceptions about Muslims and illustrate their diversity in Australia and worldwide,” Ms McKeown says. 

With so much of the film world locked down and so few places to screen new movies, the MFF screening here has been international news.

Perth got a shout out in Iran’s English-language newspaper The Tehran Times, owned by the Islamic Ideology Dissemination Organization. It reported several new Iranian movies would screen only in Perth “due to coronavirus and the resulting unusual circumstances”. 

Iranian films on show include Maryam Mohammadi’s Unlock, a documentary about the 300-year-old lock making industry in the town of Chaleshtar in southwest Iran.

Iran’s coronavirus situation has had an unexpected impact on the film scene, having led to the reopening of drive-in movies. They were banned following the 1979 revolution as cars were considered to give couples too much privacy. 

In May an outdoor theatre in Tehran was allowed to show the first drive-in film in 40 years with Exodus, the story of a group of cotton farmers who drive their tractors to the president’s office to protest the government dams that killed their land.

The local sessions are September 5 at the state library theatre, September 6 at Backlot, and September 19 at Canning Town Hall, tickets or online stream passes via muslimfilmfestival.com.au

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