The Shield That I Carry screens in Shorts Program 2 – Lebanon: Wild at Heart

© Leena Kwideer

© Leena Kwideer

The Shield That I Carry, directed by Basma Farhat screened yesterday in the Lebanon: Wild at Heart shorts progamme. The producer of the film who is also Basma’s sister was present at the screening. The film is about the wildly differing views taken by different members of Basma’s family around wearing the hijab. When she auditions for a part in a film playing a veiled woman, Basma desides to keep the veil on for a while to see how it feels. Many members of her family are overjoyed and try to encourage her to keep wearing it, but she feels very uncomfortable. Through a series of candid interviews, the film explores how polarising this issue can be.

One person asked how they got the idea to make this film. The producer explained that Basma had never intended to make a film about wearing the hijab, but her family’s reaction when she started wearing it struck her as interesting, so she decided to film it and see what result it gave. Most of the film crew were not muslim and the producer said that this often made the discussions even more varied and interesting because the family often asked their opinions or drew them into the discussions.

© Leena Kwideer

The producer pointed out that none of the discussions in the film were scripted. One person asked how they were able to start and capture such interesting footage without much planning. Basma and her sister apparently decided on different questions to ask the family members in order to stimulate an interesting discussion, but everything they said after that was entirely spontaneous. Out of the entire family, Basma and her sister are the only two women who don’t wear the hijab, so it wasn’t difficult to start conversations on this issue.

© Leena Kwideer

One person asked about the producer’s own opinion on the hijab. She said that she doesn’t want to wear it herself, but she’s not against anyone wearing it if that’s their choice. She said she feels there are other, more important aspects of the religion to focus on besides the prescribed clothing. Within Lebanon as a whole country, she said the the views taken on the hijab depend much more on the individual family than the area they live in or their social status. She said she feels that Lebanon is more tolerant to different religious beliefs than some other countries she has visited. She said that in Lebanon it’s normal to encounter extreme differences in religious beliefs and practices within families. One person might be extremely devout and orthodox in their religion whilst a close relation may not practice at all.

© Leena Kwideer