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April 1, 2015
by mara.ahmed
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A THIN WALL reviewed in City News

Adam Lubitow of City News reviews “A Thin Wall” in today’s paper:

In her lyrically non-linear documentary “A Thin Wall,” local filmmaker Mara Ahmed focuses on the lingering effects of the partitioning of India in 1947. Filmed on each side of the border — in both India and Pakistan — the deeply personal production allows Ahmed and co-producer Surbhi Dewan to examine their individual histories, assembling the recollections of family members and close friends, along with on-the-street conversations with citizens of both countries. What emerges is a complicated portrait of a people torn apart by arbitrary lines and still feeling the effects of the deaths, displacement, and mass migration that resulted.

We hear from each family as they share stories of their lives before and after the division, explaining the devastating effect it had on their loved ones and the culture at large. By focusing on these personal narratives, Ahmed creates a powerful and intimate account of history. “A Thin Wall” mixes in art, animation, music, and literary writing — including pieces by British poet John Siddique, Pakistani writer Uzma Aslam Khan, and Indian historian Urvashi Butalia — weaving together a rich tapestry of history, memory, and loss, while imploring us to retain the lessons taught to us by the past. More here.

Join us for a one-time screening of the film at the Little Theatre on April 10, 2015 at 7:00 pm. More info here.

March 20, 2015
by mara.ahmed
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the importance of girlfriends

lovely lunch with a close friend. we had time to catch up while munching on delicious food at branca’s and i got to wear the beautiful cuff bracelet lia gave me.

mara ahmed with friend

mara ahmed with friend

March 20, 2015
by mara.ahmed
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greentopia events at urban forest cinema

march 19, 2015: went to the urban forest cinema yesterday along with my friend sarita for a series of greentopia events. the discussion on THE INTERSECTION OF DOCUMENTARY FILM & JOURNALISM (something i know something about) would have been lackluster if it hadn’t been for carvin eisen who challenged mainstream media in the presence of mainstream media (yay chomsky!). “green drinks” was fun and provided an opportunity to connect with people. the MULTI-MEDIA MUSIC AND FILM EVENT “consigned to oblivion” was a great idea (live music accompanied by spoken word and film) but didn’t pan out for me. however, i loved all the locally produced short films which told the stories of wonderful activists and communities doing wonderful things in rochester. these included: Bread For All, The Sweet Bee, and Food For Thought: Seedfolk Stories. and let’s not forget the location – love high falls.

high falls, rochester, ny

high falls, rochester, ny

March 20, 2015
by mara.ahmed
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Netanyahu’s Win Is Good for Palestine

YOUSEF MUNAYYER: The re-election of Mr. Netanyahu provides clarity. Two years ago Secretary of State John Kerry declared that the maximum time left for a two-state solution was two years. Mr. Netanyahu officially declared it dead this week in order to drive right-wing voters to the polls. The two-state solution, which has seen more funerals than a reverend, exists today only as a talking point for self-interested, craven politicians to hide behind — not as a realistic basis for peace. The old land-for-peace model must now be replaced with a rights-for-peace model. Palestinians must demand the right to live on their land, but also free movement, equal treatment under the law, due process, voting rights and freedom from discrimination. Mr. Netanyahu’s re-election has convincingly proved that trusting Israeli voters with the fate of Palestinian rights is disastrous and immoral. His government will oppose any constructive change, placing Israel on a collision course with the rest of the world. And this collision has never been more necessary. The election results will further galvanize the movement seeking to isolate Israel internationally. B.D.S. campaigns will grow, and more countries will move toward imposing sanctions to change Israeli behavior. In the past few years, a major Dutch pension fund divested large sums from Israeli banks active in the West Bank, and hundreds of millions of dollars have been divested from companies, like G4S and SodaStream, that operate in occupied territory. There won’t be real change on the ground or at the polls without further pressure on Israel. And now, that pressure will increase. For this, we have Mr. Netanyahu to thank. More here.

March 20, 2015
by mara.ahmed
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lia tarachansky in rochester

march 18, 2015: with the fabulous lia tarachansky here in rochester where her film “on the side of the road” was screened at the U of R last night and will be screened again today at school without walls and then at the islamic center of rochester at 7 pm (the event is open to the public). lia’s film was part of the witness palestine film series last year and she charmed everyone with her honesty and courage in a skype session with the audience afterwards. yesterday we checked out beale street cafe where we had po’ boys. then we almost froze to death when we walked around the high falls district. lia is studying film right now so she loved the george eastman house – excellent exhibits on the history of photography (one particular henri cartier-bresson photograph has to be seen to be believed) and on the advent of technicolor in film (those are the colors i want in my documentaries). always an honor and pleasure to finally connect with an activist friend in real life!

mara ahmed and lia tarachansky at beale street cafe

mara ahmed and lia tarachansky at beale street cafe

lia at high falls in rochester, ny

lia at high falls in rochester, ny

technicolor exhibition at george eastman house

technicolor exhibition at george eastman house

March 20, 2015
by mara.ahmed
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What the Hell is Wrong With This Book: Michel Houellebecq’s Soumission

Jeanne Kay: In Houellebecq’s world, Islam is never interrogated. It is a monolith that appears fully formed and immutable to the reader and french citizens alike, like the perfect embodiment of their prejudices and fears. When Ben Abbes gets in power, women leave the labour force; polygyny becomes commonplace; education becomes privatised and religious; Jews must flee to Israel; wealthy petro-monarchies of the gulf compete to control key French institutions. It’s as if all of the french Islamophobic fantasies are projected onto what Houellebecq merely calls “Islam” without a hint of either imagination or historical veracity. In fact, the whole book is a projection of Houellebecq’s own fantasies. […] Soumission has been hailed as a new 1984, a visionary novel, but it is in fact exactly the opposite: the agonising convulsion of the dying corpse of straight-white western patriarchy, its trembling rage at its gradual loss of absolute domination, its livid horror at seeing its empire escape. In the end it expresses not the truth about French society, not a reality about the supposed tragic decadence of western civilization, but instead its dominating class’s utter lack of imagination, the pitiful narrowness of its spirit, the absolute scantiness of its potential for thinking the world beyond the walls of its miserable, petty little borders. More here.

March 20, 2015
by mara.ahmed
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14 Caribbean Nations Sue Former Colonizers for Slave Trade

Fourteen Caribbean nations have resolved to sue their former colonizers — Britain, France and the Netherlands — for lingering harms that they attribute to the slave trade. The AP reports that the leaders of the Caribbean Community, a regional consortium, adopted a 10-point plan that would seek an official apology, a cancelation of debts and assistance for cultural and educational institutions. More here.

March 20, 2015
by mara.ahmed
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Selective Memri

Richard Seymour: It surely goes without saying that you shouldn’t take anything that Memri distributes at face value. Because Memri is an Israeli propaganda outfit whose translations are unreliable, and which cherry picks items to reinforce an Orientalist discourse about the Middle East. I mean, everyone knows that. Right?

More about Selective Memri here.