When peaceful protest leads to political turmoil and war, it impacts lives but still hope prevails. A documentary film event held at Tibbits Opera House Saturday, November 19th features three films that examine the effects of the 2011 Yemen revolution.
The three films, Karama Has No Walls, Rise, and The Mulberry House give audiences rare insight into the private lives of ordinary individuals living through political turmoil and changes to cultural norms. The viewing begins at 2 pm and the combined run time is 1 hour and 45 minutes. Most of the dialogue is in Arabic with English subtitles.
The purpose of the program is to increase awareness of Yemeni culture and history in order to dispel common misconceptions that exist among area residents. The event is free of charge and includes traditional middle-eastern refreshments. The event is funded through a Heritage Grant from the Michigan Humanities Council. David Serio, an educator from the Arab American National Museum will introduce and facilitate short discussions with the audience after each film.
The first film, Karama Has No Walls documents the protests in Sana’a which began in February 2011, following the fall of Mubarak in Egypt. A tent-city built by Yemeni students inspired thousands of Yemeni people to set aside their weapons and peacefully assemble to demand the fall of (former) president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 33-year autocratic rule. According to the film’s Scottish-Yemeni director, Sara Ishaq, “Men and women, city-dwellers and tribesmen, rich and poor, young and old, all stood together, equal and resolute in the face of adversity.”
March 18 2011, marked a significant turning point in Yemen’s revolution when government snipers opened fire on the peaceful protest. The tragic events of this day shook the nation to its core and propelled hundreds of thousands more to flock to the square in solidarity with their fellow citizens. Military officials defected and joined the protests; members of parliament resigned and announced their support for the revolution; southern separatists, northern Houthi affiliates and civilians united; entire tribes set aside their weapons, made amends with rival tribesmen and pitched up tents in the square in support of one cause – the liberation of Yemen.
Karama Has No Walls is an eye-witness account of that day captured through the lenses of two cameramen and the stories of two fathers. The documentary received widespread recognition, including nominations and awards from The British Academy of Film, the United Nations Association Film Festival, Al-Jazeera International Documentary Film Festival, and the Academy of Motion Pictures.
The second film, Rise made by Mohamed Samy, is a short piece that celebrates Yemeni teenagers participating in the sport of parkour despite continued violence in their city. Sometimes referred to as “free running,” parkour is the sport of moving along a route, typically in an urban area, trying to get around or through various obstacles in the quickest and most efficient manner possible, as by jumping, climbing, or running. The filmmaker views it as a metaphor for the mental and physical barriers brought upon by the war in Yemen.
In the third film, director Sara Ishaq returns to Yemen after several years. Arriving at the heart of an emerging revolution, she redefines her place in Yemeni society, as well as her relationship with her father and grandfather. In a unique examination of the uprisings in Yemen, The Mulberry House shifts the focus from events on the street to the impact of the revolution on the lives of one family.
The Heritage Grant program was established by the Michigan Humanities Council to engage organizations and individuals at the local level throughout Michigan by establishing connections across racial and cultural lines that promote understanding and healing. The film event, reception, and discussions are open and free to the public. No reservations are needed and patrons are not required to stay for all three films.
For more information on the program or to become involved contact Tamara Apmann, Tibbits’ audience outreach director and project director for the grant. Apmann can be reached at 517-278-6029 or at boxoffice@Tibbits.org.