The 27th annual Vancouver International Film Festival will be held September 25 – October 10, 2008
Nonfiction Features of 2008 (Austria, 2008, 92 mins)
Directed By: Georg Misch
PROD: Ralph Wieser
SCR: Georg Misch, Miriam Ali de Unzaga
Muhammad Asad began life as Leopold Weiss, a Ukrainian Jew. After converting to the Muslim faith in 1926, Asad began one of the most remarkable careers of the 20th century. In addition to his political work (Asad acted variously as an advisor to Saudi Arabia’s ruling monarchy, a UN ambassador and was pivotal in the creation of Pakistan) he also wrote one of the first (and arguably best) English translations of the Koran. In these days of rampant Islamophobia, Asad’s remarkable life has the effect of rendering anew a sense of the porous boundaries between different faiths and cultures while re-emphasizing the power of tolerance.
“Structuring the film according to Asad’s principle that a dialogue should deepen human understanding, [director Georg Misch] allows contradictions while calling deeply rooted prejudices into question. His interviewees include pilgrims on their way to Mecca, a former adviser to Ariel Sharon, impassioned 9/11 commemorators on the streets of New York and Asad’s friends and colleagues. Many of the interviewees bemoan the increasing rigidity of Koranic interpretation, the rise of fundamentalism and the growing gap between Orient and Occident. However, as Misch is scrupulous to show, fanaticism is by no means exclusive to Islam or the Middle East… Written with anthropologist Miriam Ali de Unzaga, and more than four years in the making, [A Road to Mecca] is itself a fine piece of anthropology, worthy of the dedication it copies from Asad’s translation of the Koran: ‘For people who think.'”–Variety
IIS Alumni: Miriam Ali-de-Unzaga, Class of 2000
Miriam Ali de Unzaga, an alumna of the Class of 2000, recently defended her thesis, Weaving Social Life: Moroccan Textiles, People, and Changing Values for her D.Phil in Social and Cultural Anthropology and Museum Ethnography from the University of Oxford.