On the Bride’s Side

On the Bride’s Side
Genre: Documentary | Director: Antonio Augugliaro, Gabriele Del Grande, Khaled Soliman Al Nassiry | Language: Arabic, English Subtitles | Length: 98 minutes | Country: Global | Year: 2014 | Rating: NR

In Milan, five refugees of the Syrian Civil War and survivors of the October 11, 2013, migrant shipwreck in Lampedusa meet an Italian journalist and a Palestinian-Syrian poet who are eager to help the group reach Sweden, a safe haven for migrants. How can the group traverse the European continent from Milan to Stockholm without being stopped at the borders of Italy, France, Germany, Denmark and Sweden? What if they pretend they are on their way to a wedding party? What border patrol agent would ever stop a bride to check her documents?

With a Palestinian friend dressed up as the bride and more than a dozen Italian and Syrian friends as wedding guests, the group crosses halfway over Europe on a four-day journey of almost two thousand miles. This emotionally charged journey not only brings out the stories, hopes and dreams of the five refugees and their new friends, but also reveals an unknown side of Europe – a transnational and supportive Europe that opposes the restrictive laws that are meant to keep refugees out.

Winner of Human Rights Nights Award at the Venice International Film Festival, ON THE BRIDE’S SIDE is a timely look at the urgent refugee crisis happening in the Middle East and Europe and an irreverent and unexpected take on the immigrant road movie.

NCSCOS Essential Standards: WH.H.7.1, WH.H.8.2 , WH.H.8.3, WH.H.8.6

Koran by Heart: One Chance to Remember

Koran by Heart: One Chance to Remember
Documentary | Director: Greg Barker | Language: English, Arabic, English Subtitles | Length: 90 minutes | Country: Egypt, Global | Year: 2011 | Rating: NR

There is a passage in the Qur’an that says if you memorize the Qur’an and teach it to others, you will be successful in this life and the next life.” In Koran by Heart, the young scholar who says this has already committed the entire Muslim holy book to memory. He has also earned a place in the Islamic world’s oldest Qur’an memorization contest—though he’s only ten.

Every year, about 100 of Islam’s best young students from around the world come to Cairo for the International Holy Koran Competition. Many are in their late teens, some as young as seven. Koran by Heart follows the progress of three scholars, a girl and two boys, all ten years old, as they compete against students who, in some instances, are nearly twice their age.

Koran by Heart captures the skill, determination, and faith of the young competitors, but never lets the viewer forget that they are children: the solemn girl we watch as she accepts a prize from the president of Egypt is the same high-spirited kid who squeals with delight on her first camel ride.

Viewing guide and related resources available here (Muslim Journeys | Item #308: “, August 21, 2015 http://bridgingcultures.neh.gov/muslimjourneys/items/show/308.)

Available for free streaming online here.

NCSCOS Essential Standards:  6.C.1.1, 6.C.1.2, 7.C.1.2, WH.H.2.5

Cities of Light: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain

Cities of Light: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain
Genre: Documentary | Director: Robert Gardner | Language: English | Length: 117 minutes | Country: Mediterranean, Global | Year: 2007 | Rating: PG

Over a thousand years ago, Europe experienced one of its greatest periods of cultural enlightenment.For more than three centuries in Medieval Spain, Muslims, Jews and Christians lived together and prospered in a thriving multicultural civilization. Here, remarkable individuals of different faiths made lasting contributions in such areas as poetry, art, architecture, music, dining etiquette, science, agriculture, medicine, engineering, navigation, textiles, and even hydraulic technology.

Their rich, complex culture reached a high point in the Mediterranean Middle Ages. However, larger forces in conquest of land and power brought about puritanical judgments, absolutism and religious extremism. The conflict they triggered extinguished the shared learning that once flourished in this enlightened land.

Cities of Light: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain takes viewers through an engaging, insightful journey into this critical period in world history. This website allows you to further explore this significant past to better understand the present.

Lesson plans and classroom ideas available here.

NCSCOS Essential Standards: 6.C.1.2, WH.H.2.5, WH.H.3.1