muftiCreated as "a cinematic forum of peace and accord," the first ever Muslim film festival stars today in Tatarstan, a far eastern Russian republic. The festival, called the Golden Minbar, takes its name from what is essentially a mosque's pulpit. The program contains more than 70 films from 18 countries, including documentaries and animated films in addition to features. With fairly loose qualifying criteria - films must either be made by Muslims, shot in Muslim countries, or about Muslims - the program promises to be a diverse one.

Even in countries with significant Muslim populations, Muslim characters in the media are frequently stereotyped. Said one organizer, speaking about the Muslim image in Russia, "Every Chechen you see on TV is a rebel with a Kalashnikov and an ammunition belt. Every Afghan is an uneducated drug trafficker." RavilGainutdin, who is both Russia's chief mufti and the festival's president, hopes that the Golden Minbar will help to break those stereotypes by showing the world positive images of Muslims, and helping to create "objective representation of true followers of Islam" in the minds of audiences.
categories Movies, Cinematical