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170 × 120 × 14 mm
208 pages
75 illustrations
01 Oct 2004
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Women, Islam and Cinema Gönül Dönmez-Colin

This is the first book to examine the troubled relationships between women, Islam and cinema. Film critic and author Gönül Dönmez-Colin explores the role of women as spectators, images and image constructors in the cinemas of the countries where Islam is the predominant religion, focusing on Iran and Turkey from the Middle East, drawing parallels from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the two Central Asian Republics of the former Soviet Union, and Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia, the prominently Muslim Asian countries with a challenging film industry. Some of the relevant films made in India by and for Muslim Indians are also explored.

Dönmez-Colin examines prevalent cinematic archetypes, including the naïve country girl who is deceived and dishonoured, or the devious seductress who destroys the sanctity of marriage, and looks well at controversial elements such as screen rape, which, feminist film critics claim, caters to male voyeurism. She also discusses recurring themes, such as the myths of femininity, the endorsement of polygamy and the obsession with male children, as well as the most common stereotypes, depicting women as mothers, wives and daughters.

Given the diversity of cultures, rather than viewing national cinemas as aspects of a single development, the author focuses on individual histories, traditions and social and economic circumstances as points ofreference, which are examined in the context of social and political evolution and the status of women within Islam. Women, Islam and Cinema is a much-needed and timely work that will appeal to the curious reader as well as to the student of film.

‘. . . presents a fascinating array of film narratives and characterizations. Her critical interpretations reveal how films can reflect socio-political transitions the voices of filmmakers add authority to the text, as does her personal background in both Islamic and Western cultures. Dönmez-Colin shows how cinema may serve either to protect cultural values or to contest them, describing a complex scenario where womens seemingly passive role in perpetuating traditions may be balanced by their courage in defying them . . . underscores the dynamic interplay between cinema and real life in countries where, literally in some cases, women were once dying to go to the movies.’ — Times Literary Supplement

‘This is one of the few film books I actually want to read. A very necessary examination of Islamic cinema which praises its bolder spirits and doesnt hesitate to criticise those who censor and condemn them.’ — Derek Malcolm, chief film critic, London Evening Standard

‘The reader is referred to the excellent books that will provide some of this information and insights . . . Women, Islam and cinema, and Turkish Cinema: Identity, Distance and Belonging, both by Gönül Dönmez-Colin, are wonderful resources.’ — Javed Mohammed, Culture Wars

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Gönül Dönmez-Colin is a film scholar specializing in the cinemas of the Middle East and Central Asia. Among her recent books are Women, Islam and Cinema (Reaktion Books, 2004), Cinemas of the Other: A Personal Journey with Filmmakers from the Middle East and Central Asia (2006) and The Cinema of North Africa and the Middle East (ed.) (2007). And Turkish Cinema (Reaktion Books, 2008),

1. representations of women
2. violence against women and the politics of rape
3. islamist cinema as a genre
4. women's films, films about women
5. women heroes of the new iranian cinema
select bibliography
films and addresses
photo acknowledgements