Doris Duke Theatre screens films from nations affected by travel ban

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Next month the Doris Duke Theatre joins theaters across the country in screening films from Iran, Lebanon, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Sudan, and Syria, as part of "The Seventh Art Stand." This national initiative aims to challenge Islamophobia by encouraging theaters nationwide to offer a platform for filmmakers from countries affected by the U.S. government's travel ban, otherwise known as the Muslim ban.

"The museum's Doris Duke Theatre is part of a working group of arthouse theaters across the country dedicated to addressing equity and diversity issues in film. The members of this group feel it is important to celebrate the films from these countries as a way to promote cultural understanding and community dialogue about tough, relevant issues," says theater director Taylour Chang.

Highlights of the program include Asghar Farhadi's The Salesman, which won the Academy Award® for Best Foreign Language Film—an award that Farhadi could not accept in person, as he decided to not travel to attend the ceremony in protest of the travel ban. Also screening is Fishing Without Nets, which beautifully tells the story of East African pirates from the Somali point of view. Director Cuttor Hodierne, writer John Hibey, and actress Idil Ibrahim will be in attendance of the screening, and lead a discussion after the film.

Each organization is responsible for programming its own films, and so far the Doris Duke Theatre and New York's famed experimental film theater Anthology Film Archives are the only venues that have committed to showing films from all seven countries named in the original ban. Moreover, with 34 community partners, in-person and Skype-enabled discussions with filmmakers after almost every film, live musical and artistic performances, a one-on-one interview with Hawai'i Attorney General Douglas Chin, tours of the Arts of the Islamic World Gallery after matinee screenings, and special workshops hosted by the ACLU of Hawai'i and Amnesty International, the museum's programming is particularly robust.

The series opens Saturday, May 27 with an interview with Chin hosted by Honolulu Civil Beat. Chin—as many know—received national attention when filed the lawsuit that halted President Donald Trump's revised executive order on immigration. Chin speaks with Civil Beat's Yunji De Nies about Hawai'i's role in the travel ban. The interview is free to attend. Following the talk will be a reception where guests can enjoy food and wine, and learn more about the museum's community partners.

The program also includes live performances by artists from Syria. At 4 p.m. Saturday, May 27—immediately following the opening talk and reception with Attorney General Douglas Chin—Kevork Mourad, a Syrian-born, New York–based artist of Armenian heritage, paints live on stage to the music of Hawai'i Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Ignace (Iggy) Jang. The performance is presented in collaboration with Shangri La: A Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design, where Mourad will be an artist in residence in April.

On June 3, the series closes with a violin performance and talk by Mariela Shaker. Born in Aleppo, Shaker was able to flee the war in 2013 when she was awarded a music scholarship by Monmouth College in Illinois. "I feel powerless to change the current tragedy ongoing in my country," says Shaker. "However, I believe so much in the power of music to remove barriers.

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