by Lauren Collins
Over the course of seven days, seven different heartbreaking, eye-opening and emotional films from the seven countries affected by the Trump administration’s travel ban will be shown in 50+ theaters, museums and community centers around the country, including Akron’s own: The Nightlight.
The Nightlight is an independent, non-profit movie theater committed to advancing cinema and community simultaneously.
“It’s personal,” says Mary O’Connor, architect of the Nightlight. “The experience of Nightlight is film, but it also feels live, alive. It feels special, somehow like a … Secret club—but better because it’s everyone’s special spot.”
In their showcasing of The Seventh Art Stand, The Nightlight highlights the importance of unity between all people. These films were created to bind communities (like Akron) across the world with the Muslim community. For these seven days, the world will come together as an act of cinematic solidarity against Islamophobia.
“Film can give a sensory perspective beyond reading, and to be able to hear people share their very own stories in their own format and language is more direct and authentic than hearing someone speak for someone else,” says Kara Ulmer, Director of World Relief Akron. “It is an opportunity to get beyond our own specific world views and see from another’s perspective…which leads to empathy. And we need more empathy for healing, personally and culturally.”
The film series dispels many of the irrational fears people have regarding the Muslim way of life and reminds society not to let fear take control. The series includes the following films:
May 8 [Syria] Queens of Syria: 40 Syrian refugee women update Euripides’ play, “Trojan Women.”
May 9 [Sudan] Beats of Antonov: Traditional Sudanese music holds a community together in war torn times.
May 10 [Libya] Libya in Motion: 13 stories of creatives and entrepreneurs flourishing in post-revolution Libya.
May 11 [Somalia] Fishing Without Nets: This documentary steps outside Hollywood caricature to understand Somali pirates with nuance and cultural authenticity.
May 12 [Egypt] Tickling Giants: This story of the “Jon Stewart of Egypt” (Bassem Youssef) reminds us how powerfully laughter can keep power in check.
May 13 [Iran] Starless Dreams: Shattering stories from young Iranian women locked up in a juvenile detention center.
May 14 [Yemen] The Mulberry House: This is what a half-Yemeni, half-Scottish filmmaker captured when she returned to Yemen, just as the Arab Spring was beginning.
Of all the films showing, Ulmer is most excited to see Queens of Syria: “Because I get to meet refugees as part of my work, including Syrians, I hear firsthand their stories of endurance, the love and loyalty they have for their families, and their ability to forgive and start over.”
O’Connor can’t pick just one. “ALL of the films,” she says. “It is my intention to see them all.”
Whether you attend all seven films, just a few, or only one, don’t miss out on a chance to show your support of the Muslim community—here in Akron and nationwide. The Nightlight is located at 30 N High St in downtown Akron. Purchase tickets at nightlightcinema.com. Read more about The Seventh Art Stand at seventhartstand.com.