By Shameelah Khan
The short documentary Women in The Dark has screened in festivals such as The Africa in Motion film festival in Scotland as well as in Sweden in the CinemaAfrica Film Festival and Uppsala Short Film Festival. It also went on to win best documentary at the Tele Awards at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. The documentary is a visual conversation between three generations of Muslim women in South Africa on their views on marriage and sex in Islam. On one level the film discusses the ideological framework of marriage in Islam but on another it interrogates the idea of sexuality and the male gaze in cinema. The filmmaker herself begins a journey of sexual exploration and self-agency. It is only through the generational lens of her grandmother and mother’s opposing views that she begins to unpack her sexuality and autonomy. This is a personal-self-reflexive experimental documentary. Themes such as touching, intimacy, sex, taboo and gender-expectations of the Muslim women are threaded throughout. More importantly it aims to reclaim the feminine. At the heart of the film is that the Muslim female body exists within space and it contains an identity and a movement of pleasure and questioning and paradoxes of self. It is not a documentary on Islam but rather – Muslim women and their existence in the world.