Foreign film shown on campus prompts conversation
February 15, 2018
The Modern Languages department recently hosted Karim Miské for a screening of his 2009 film, “Muslims of France.”
The Feb. 8 event was followed by a discussion in both French and English.
Miské is Muaratenian and French documentary filmmaker and novelist whose film focuses on issues of race, Islam and the identity of France.
The film asks what it means to be a Muslim in France as well as highlights the experiences of Muslims—mostly from North Africa—in France.
The film covers events starting in 1904 until 2007, when Muslim immigrants began to be elected to government positions and how that has changed in the last century.
“This event also invited students to reflect on the intricacies of race and religion in France as well as in the United States, two countries that have historically highly contrasted understandings of race and religion in the public sphere,” French professor Jimia Boutouba said.
Miské directed his first film, “Saving money in Nouakchott,” in 1988.
He is also the author of the award-winning crime novel, “Arab Jazz,” which chronicles the story of a French Arab man struggling with his identity.
His other works have touched on a wide range of issues including colonial legacies, hip-hop culture, informal economy, freedom of press and bioethics.
The film screening was also supported by the Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies department, the university library and the Religious Studies department, making this an interdisciplinary discussion.
Following the excerpt of the film, members of the audienced discussed issues such as terrorism, secularism in France and the current global political climate with Miské.
The event provided a platform to have a well-rounded conversation about the racism and discrimination Muslims face in many western countries.
French students and Frenchspeaking community members were then given the opportunity to ask questions in French and engage with a native speaker about relevant issues both in France and America.
“I really enjoyed hearing the perspective of a well-known French filmmaker and writer, especially since the issues he discussed are so relevant to today’s discussions of the political climate and refugee crisis in France and Europe,” senior French major Trent Carlson said.
France has a growing conservative anti-immigrant population and has also dealt with an unprecedented amount of terror attacks claimed by ISIS.
The film touches on a very emotionally charged public debate in France regarding religious liberty.
“Having someone with a new perspective and real world experience come to discuss their field of study and connect it to our studies at Santa Clara gives us the opportunity to engage with real issues in a global context, ” Carlson said.
Contact Sophie Pollock at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.