The Burqa Issue. OF NOTE Magazine. 2016 The Burqa Issue. OF NOTE magazine. 2016 - Page 34

Brishkay Ahmed: Unveiling the History of the Burqa By Bureen Ruffin The result is a film that gives voice to a more nuanced and complex narrative that, at the very least, belies popular perceptions of the burqa. Sometimes we can be blind to things. We say, ‘Oh I recently spoke with Ahmed over Skype about her that’s okay because they live in that part of the documentary film, which premiered at the 2012 world.’ In Iran, I saw a young girl, maybe 18 or 19 DOXA Documentary Film years old, dragged into a Festival in Vancouver. The police car by two officers — film, she says, has sparked one, a woman in full chador A true understanding of honest dialogue about the (full body cloak commonly the burqa and its history burqa. For the filmmaker, worn by women in Iran) — is critical. who recently took to social because her scarf was not media to dispel inaccuracies worn properly. It angered me. Brishkay Ahmed about the burqa when the debates hit close to home in Suddenly, I realized: this is Canada, the value of frank what I care about. I’m going discussions on this issue has never been more vital. to use film, and I need to go to Afghanistan. A lot of Ahmed is happy the documentary continues to reach diverse audiences in Canada and the U.S., but she hopes to show it to men and women inside Afghanistan and other Islamic nations. What follows is our discussion about filmmaking, activism, and women. Brishkay Ahmed, center, is the filmmaker behind the documentary, Story of Burqa: Case of a Confused Afghan. (“Burqas and the Confused Afghan,” Photo: Meghan Mcadam) Across the globe the burqa is ubiquitous: in the markets of Kabul, on the streets of New York City, on the runways of Givenchy, and in pop music videos. It is increasingly at the center of heated debates in the East and West, but little is known about the burqa’s origin and history, particularly in the West. Canada was recently the latest in a number of countries embroiled in a battle to restrict or ban the controversial garment. In her documentary film Story of Burqa: Case of a Confused Afghan, Brishkay Ahmed, an Afghan- Canadian filmmaker, takes on the enormous task of uncovering the story of how the burqa came to be associated with Afghanistan and its role in the lives of Afghan women and girls. Ahmed and her camera crew take the viewer on a journey through the alleyways and past the stalls of the Kabul markets, where burqas are made, sold, and worn. By her own admission, Ahmed’s Dari (a dialect of Persian spoken in Afghanistan) is poor; still, she unflinchingly interrogates her sources — shoppers, tailors, politicians, women, and intellectuals — for answers. 34 OF NOTE triggered something. I guess I thought there was a certain level of what was acceptable. Q: How did you come to be a filmmaker and did you study film knowing you were interested in pursuing this work? A: I was interested in journalism at first but realized I wanted to do more than the one-minute story. I wanted to go deeper. It’s important to make people think. Books and news articles certainly make us think and that’s very important, but if you want social change, you have to make people care. You have to make them feel. And film does that for me. As a woman from Afghanistan, having lived in both the East and the West, and the mother of two girls, wom éՕ́ɔхЁѼ Ё$)ͥȁЁѡńչѥ$݅)ɥ٥%ɅѼٕ͕%)ѥ٥ʹPٕаɅ́ɽ)ȸȁӊéхɽѕѡɔ)DQ́ݥѠ͍Yٕ)ɕиeԁɔɕͥݽńQ)͍́ݥѠѕɕѥѕɅѥݥѠݼ)ݡѕȁ͕٥ѡ͍͡ɔ)єЁݽݡ݅́Ʌ䁄)͔́ȁń݅́՝Ёѡȸ])ԁ͔ѼѡѡЁ݅)!٥%Ʌ͕́ѡ)ݥѠѡչɰ$݅ѕѼ͕܁)ݽձɕЁѡ䁅Յͅ܁ńѡɕи)]ձѡ䁉ɥ]ձѡ䁥ɔ%ѡ)]Ёݔɔͽ镐Ѽѥ䁍ɕЁ)ͼݔЁѥ̰͔ݡЁݔѡ)ձɔݥѠɕͥ)$ͭ䁙ɥѼ݅ɽ́ѡɕЁݕɥ)ѡń х䰁ݕɔ٥)ЁѡMхɉՍ́ɉ丁Qٕͅѥ)ݥѠѡɽ՝Ё͕ɥ͹́Ѽ)ѡɥи(ԁ=9=Q