Marjoun and the Flying Headscarf is a ten-minute film about an Arab-American girl who must come to terms with her sexuality while balancing the mores of two different cultures.
The narrative explores veiling, spirituality, and domestic violence.
I made this film to promote a more realistic view of Islamic spiritual practice, and in order to break the silence around sexual abuse in the Arab/Muslim community.
As our protagonist struggles with the different forces around her, she turns to Islam and uses the religion as a means of liberation and self-definition. Therefore, the film presents a truth rarely identified in American media: Islam can be a redeemer that empowers the female devotee.
The film also explores the issue of domestic violence in Marjoun’s family, daring to focus on a taboo topic in Arab/Muslim societies: incest. Rather than be silenced by the fear created by outside pressure at a time when the Arab/Muslim community in the U.S. is deeply troubled by the world focus on terrorism, I seek to provide a means for our community to discuss its internal problems. I want to open dialogue on domestic violence in our households. —forbiddentowander.com
At the IFP Narrative Lab, a mentor said of Susan Youssef’s first feature, Habibi Rasak Kharban (literally, “Darling, Something’s Wrong with Your Head”): “It’s a classic story, like Romeo and Juliet.” True, but the roots of Youssef’s story go back far further. The film is an adaptation of the 12th-century Sufi parable Majnun Layla, which was itself based on a 7th-century Arabic story. Over the years, the tragic tale of undying love between a woman and the wandering poet her family forbids her to marry has formed the basis for countless works of art, from Shakespeare’s classic to several Indian films of the 1920s to even pop songs like Eric Clapton’s “Layla.”
Youssef is currently in post on her feature, and it’s been a long road. “I’ve been working on the film for eight years, continuously,” she says. “I’ve never fought for something so hard before — I’ve defined my whole existence around this film.” The feature began in 2002 when Youssef traveled to Gaza while in post on a short… read more