Distributed by Women Make Movies, 462 Broadway, New York, NY 10013; 212-925-0606
Produced by Shelley Saywell, Deborah Parks, Habiba Nosheen
Directed by Shelley Saywell
DVD, color, 60 min.
Sr. High - General Adult
Parenting, Criminal Justice, Domestic Violence, Ethics, Human Rights, Middle Eastern Studies, Multicultural Studies, Religious Studies, Women's Studies
Reviewed by Sarah B. Cornell, Daniel Webster College
Date Entered: 11/10/2011
In the Name of the Family explores the sometimes dangerous intersection between first-generation Muslim immigrants’ desire to preserve traditional family power structures and their children’s desire to adapt to North American customs. The film focuses on three young Canadian women who survived attacks and three “honor killings” in 2007. Aqsa Parvez, a Canadian teenager of Pakistani descent was strangled by her father and brother; Amina and Sarah Said, daughters of an Egyptian father and an American mother, were shot by their father.
Fauzia Muhammad, survivor of her brother’s knife attack, Hana, survivor of near suffocation by her father, and Alina, survivor of many beatings, provide invaluable perspective on what it is like to live with the knowledge that a family member is willing to kill you to protect his family’s reputation. Alina and Hana report threats to take them back to Pakistan to kill them since Canadian law doesn't allow it. Hana, who lives at home through most of the narrative, is a fascinating case in point: the filmmakers tell her story as it unfolds, highlighting how her feelings toward her family change over the course of a year.
One of the many strengths of In the Name of the Family is that the filmmaker allows an Imam and both male and female members of the Islamic community to speak for themselves. By talking about domestic violence in Muslim communities, regardless of its sources or sanctions, the film will certainly succeed in raising the awareness of Muslim young people's struggles in North America. Even more importantly, it will raise awareness of agencies such as Naseeha, a Muslim youth helpline, which are working to prevent future violence.
This film would be valuable for courses and collections across many disciplines, not just Middle Eastern, South Asian, or Islamic Studies. Courses on women’s studies, globalization, ethics, or social work might use In the Name of the Family to spark discussions of what is a father’s right, a child’s right, what constitutes transgression in various cultures and religions, and the best ways to help young people and their families.
The material is not explicit, but nevertheless may be disturbing to the youngest high school students. Teachers should consider whether hearing the 911 call from Amina and Sarah Said is appropriate for their classes.
- Best Canadian Feature, Hot Docs International Film Festival