You can now watch via DVD and VOD the widely distributed documentary “I wasn’t always dressed like this” which challenges the popular perspective on Muslim women and the portrayal of Hijab and Niqab. Press Release:
‘I wasn’t always dressed like this’ is a personal, narrative-based documentary with a poetic approach, featuring three Muslim women from different backgrounds living in the UK. The film focuses on the act of wearing the veil as an inward process, giving the veil a critical and intimate perspective.
The documentary, which was produced between 2012 and 2013 in the UK, has as its main objective, through its filmic methodology, to deconstruct the popular discourse which circulates around the image of Muslim women who wear the veil. Why do we think a certain way about them?
The documentary was premiered in the United Kingdom coincidently at the same time the debate about wearing the veil in public spaces re-appeared in political and popular spheres of the country, after a college in Birmingham banned use of the face veil within their campus After this incident, sensationalistic images and reporting of women wearing the veil once again appeared on the front pages of tabloids such as the Sun and the Daily Mail, heating this controversial debate even further.
As such, the documentary, offering a contrasting approach to mainstream media representation and challenging the perspective of the viewer, had a certain resonance and was used as a reference by media vehicles such as the BBC. This documentary has been exhibited and acquired by major universities and cultural centres, especially in the United Kingdom, United States and Brazil. Specially requested by researchers at the University of Tel Aviv, it was exhibited and debated with postgraduate students and the film director. It was broadcast on national television in the UK in March 2014.
Ever since the film’s completion, public screenings followed by discussions and debates with Betty Martins and local researchers have been organised. The documentary has been distributed to the educational market and now will be available for personal use. This international distribution will be followed by a campaign to get the documentary screened and discussed in cultural centres in Latin America, where there is a significant increase of the Muslim community and consequently a greater need for critical and reflexive projects such as this.
Betty Martins, originally from Brazil but having lived in the UK for over nine years, is the producer and director of this documentary. With a degree in Visual Arts and a Masters in Media and Cultural Studies, she is particularly interested in researching technologies of memory, which she explores through the reflective work of micro- narratives. This is her third documentary, having been previously commissioned by the British Museum and the Wellcome Trust. In this project she has collaborated with a distinct group of media professionals, researchers, independent writers and academics who are challenging and expanding their specific practices in subjects related to gender, cultural memory, cultural politics, film and media.
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