There are so many short, international films that are never seen, not because they don’t have an audience but because they don’t have a platform! Alchemiya is always looking out for these unusual, quirky and rare gems of global Muslim film making that we can relate to or learn something new from. All under seven minutes long, these five short films from Japan, Malaysia, Yemen, Syria and Iran each have very different stories to tell.
1 in 13 million – The only native Japanese Imam in Tokyo
The population of Japan is 127 million with 13 million people in Tokyo. The total Muslim population living in Japan is estimated to be around one hundred thousand, and of those approximately ten thousand are Japanese. However, of the five Japanese Imams in the country, only one is in Tokyo. This wonderful film tells the story of Abdallah Taqy, and how his personal studies of the world’s religions and a chance meeting 12 years ago, led him to become one in 13 million.
Baju Melayu is a traditional clothing worn by Malay men mostly in Malaysia, Brunei Indonesia and Singapore. However, it’s not just a piece of clothing. From the five front buttons to how short, or long, you wear your sampin, every part of this clothing means something. Using archive photos, historical journals and animation this film tells you everything you need to know about the meaning and origin of Baju Melayu in less than three minutes!
Made in 2012 this unique and atmospheric film depicts the male side of a traditional Yemeni wedding in Thula, a town in the Haraz Mountains in west central Yemen. Filmed observationally and without dialogue or commentary, Ali’s Day is carried gently along by the sound and feeling of a solitary oud. This unspoken portrait provides an insight into more than just the wedding party, and also gives glimpses of the beauty of Thula, a town recognised as a potential world heritage site.
In Damascus from 2014 is another journey to an ancient place in which film-maker Waref Abu Quba presents his poetic and mournful ode to Damascus, the queen of cities. Complex layers, create a rich visual texture capturing both the beauty and the melancholy of Damascus, gently accompanied by the poetry of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.
To the people asking: “Why do you want to go to Iran?” show them this video. The narration at the beginning sums it up: “Curves are everywhere in Eastern culture: our writing, our architecture, our instruments, how we dance; even the tone of our language is curved. The West was built on angles. The East was built on curves.” The rapid sequence of shots in this four minute film contain a huge and beautiful array of curves, colours, landscapes and people. It’s like speed dating an entire country!