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A Lebanese TV personality fights to maintain public credibility after her divorce. An Egyptian religious leader campaigns for recognition from an Islamic authority. A Syrian professor endeavors to reform notions of Islamic marriage. Through portraits of these three women public figures, filmmaker Brigid Maher offers Western viewers a more nuanced view of women's roles in Middle Eastern societies.
"These women have not been filmed before in their private lives or in the mosques," Maher says. "Are they really empowered? How much influence do they really have? These are questions that are explored in the film."
Maher, who teaches new media at American University in DC, cut her teeth as a filmmaker in Northwestern's MFA program, where she made the 2002 Chicago and West Bank-shot fiction feature Adrift in the Heartland, about the budding friendship between a Palestinian immigrant homemaker and an African American social worker. (I was a production manager of that film).
"I was inspired to investigate the role women played in Islam after working closely with the Arab community on Adrift," Maher says.