The Golden Minbar, one of the largest Muslim film festivals in the world, is held here in Kazan – the capital of the Russian Republic of Tartarstan. More than 60 films from 67 countries were screened during the festival, in and out of competition.
(A Golden Min-bar normally refers to the chair in which the Imam sits to address the faithful.) The festival also offered creative meetings, workshops, and a panel discussion on “Cinematography of Russia in the Unity and Diversity of National Cultures.” This year, the prize for Best Film went to Russian director, Vera Glagoleva, for her film, “One War” – a drama based on a true story from WWII about a group of women imprisoned because their children had been fathered by the invading enemy. Said Vera Glagoleva: “The fact that we won this prize is very important for us. It’s the proof that compassion and love can unite hamanity.” Iranian film “A Light in the Fog”, by Panabharkhoda Rezaee, won three times over, walking off with Golden Min-bars for best direction, best camera work, and best actress. This film is a powerful drama about the last three inhabitants of a town. Kazan’s Golden Minbar Festival is proud to say that it has defined Islamic cinematography, and that this made selecting films for the festival hard. Says cinema critic Vita Ramm: “Each director, has their own point of view on Muslim cinema. That’s why our festival is interesting. It’s not a round table dealing with religious issues. Its about showing people’s lives, and each person is unique. So the films are diverse and varied.” “The Truth” a documentary by Osama Mansour al-Kurayji won the Special Prize at the festival. It follows an expatriated Belgian family who are now living in Amman, and who have converted to Islam. Says the director: “This movie is about a Belgian family which moved to Dubai, and after a while the mother entered Islam, and everything in their life changed.” Other awards included a prize for best actor to the film “Eagles”, by Ramil Tuhvatullin. Eagles is a life in the day of three old men – rethinking their lives, re-evaluating their relationships. The prize for best screen-play went to “Snow” by Bosnian director Aida Begcic. Snow is another film dealing with the aftermath of war. The film that, predictably, sparked the most debate in the Festival, was the Israeli drama “For My Father”, directed by Dror Zahavi. It tells the story of an impossible love between a Palestinian suicide bomber and a Jewish girl in Tel Aviv. Says the director: “As a director, as an artist, I feel the same as they, for Israeli occupation. I’m against Israeli occupation, and I think that the struggle of the Palestinian people against occupation is legitimate. I don’t think that the way of terrorism is legitimate, but if I, my people were under occupation, I would fight against it as well.” The Festival was first and foremost a place for film-makers and film fans to gather and watch films, but it also provided a platform for those who want to build bridges between cultures.