Islam is the dominant religion in Senegal. It always has been, but sociologists have observed an increase in fundamentalism in recent years. For women, this means being pressured to don a veil and practice Sharia, which may or may not conflict with their thoroughly modern lives. Interviewing several articulate and thoughtful young women - from the extremely devout to relaxed party girls and career-minded businesswomen - the filmmaker explores the many concepts, perceptions and attitudes affecting Muslim women in Senegal.
By expressing themselves on subjects such as the veil, the sharia and fundamentalism, Senegalese Muslim women give us an insight into how they live their religion. This film also explores their place in African society and their freedom of speech.
What the filmmaker says?
What are you prepared to do in order to succeed with a project? How far are you willing to go?
Are you prepared to crawl towards a "marabout" (religious leader) for one hour just to advance 3 metres, and then be chased away like dirt? Are you prepared to listen to the prayers of radical Muslim preachers for 10 hours even though you're a Christian? The opportunity to gather the words of these women made it worth the effort, the words of Senegalese women that express their opinions about Islam, and by doing so, about their place in society.
The voices of African women are not heard enough. In this documentary, they don't only speak out freely, but they talk about a subject as delicate as Islam. These women have really thought about what they say. They answer questions about the Muslim religion that are usually only treated by the media.
Islam came to Senegal via the Sufi brotherhoods. It was exciting to speak to a diverse group of women - all of them belonging to a different brotherhood.
Not being a Muslim myself, I don't swing towards any one side - neither the radicals nor the liberals. Everyone should own his piece of truth. The film takes you from one extreme to the other, from a voice that says: "I don't pray or fast" to one that says that Islam is the best thing in the world. It was out of the question for me to allow the judgement of a non-Muslim to appear anywhere in the film.
In order to lend this serious topic the 'lightness of a smile', I focussed on the beauty and elegance of the Senegalese woman - their way of being so completely at ease with themselves. I hope that this film will remind us that having a space where everyone can live out their differences is a very precious thing.
PRIX / FESTIVALS / AWARDS / DISTINCTIONS / TELEVISIONS
2007 | États Généraux du Film Documentaire | LUSSAS, France | August 19 > 25, 2007
> Selection (Africa)
9th edition of the Encounters South African International Documentary Festival | Johannesburg, 13 - 22 July 2007 | Cape Town, Afrique du Sud, 20 July - 5 August 2007 |
> Selection (Category: African Focus)