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Where do you stand on religion?

Maike Müller
Maike Müller

Five young filmmakers explore ostracism and oppression on account of faith.

Where do you stand on religion?

People desire constancy and certainty. Many of them find both of these in religion, its traditions and rites, its well-defined rules for living (in the community). At the same time, especially when a faith is practiced more fervently, some people slip through the cracks: those who don’t fit the mold or follow the “correct” lifestyle. Sexuality in particular, which is declared a sin in many religions and is therefore to be suppressed, can become grounds for ostracism and oppression. Several films at FILMSCHOOLFEST MUNICH deal with this topic.

In HER DANCE, Aya drops in on her family unannounced as they are celebrating her sister’s wedding Shabbat with the entire local Jewish community. But Aya is unwelcome. She is a transsexual. The dinner party reacts to her with a certain amount of discomfort. Her mother in particular tries several times to get her to leave in order to protect her own standing in the community. But Aya has come here to dance her way back into her family, surrounded by women clapping and singing Jewish songs. Whether she succeeds is something that director Bar Cohen shows in this sensitive film.

 

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SUMMER SHADE by Shira Haimovici.

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HER DANCE by Bar Cohen.

 

SUMMER SHADE is also about an unwelcome person whom others want to chase out. Gal, a teenager who is just beginning to take an interest in bridal couples, wants her picture taken in front of her family’s idyllic vacation home and would really like to spend her summer vacation by the pond. But as she lies there alone, sunning herself and listening to music, ultra-Orthodox Hasidic boys show up, wanting to swim. Their faith forbids them to do so while a woman is present. Shira Haimovici shows how the “shiksa” Gal defends herself against their attack in this powerful, summery short film.

In CONGENITAL, “SamKo Brothers” Saman Hosseinpuor and Ako Zandkarim tell the story of Roja, a teenage girl who really wants to abscond. She is married off as “blood money” to a devout old man. But Roja only seems to be a girl; she belongs to a third sex and loves a woman. Concealing these facts as long as possible and breaking out of her prison of tradition and family guilt are her utmost concerns.

 

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DIVINATION by Gopal Acharya.

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CONGENITAL by the „SamKo Brothers“ Saman Hosseinpuor and Ako Zandkarim.

 

Yet ostracism on the basis of one’s sexual orientation is not the only reason it’s possible to struggle with one’s faith. In DIVINATION by Gopal Acharya, a Nepalese shaman, whom all the villagers look up to, performs a healing ritual on a sick, elderly man — but it doesn’t work. Humiliated by the fact that for the first time in his life the gods are no longer listening to him, he wonders if it’s time to retire. It’s not just the religious demands others make on a member of the community that can spark self-doubt, but also the self-imposed demands on one’s own abilities. The certainty that religion is supposed to provide becomes a prison to these four protagonists.

 

Bar Cohen (HER DANCE ) - Interview

Saman Hosseinpuor (CONGENITAL) - Interview

Gopal Archaya (DIVINATION) - Interview

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