I’ve always loved film as a platform for creativity, awareness and innovation. As someone who wants to pursue a career in this industry I find myself constantly trying to find time to read reviews, research technical tricks and of course watch movies. The Girl, Whose Shadow Reflects the Moon has a narrator who also shares my passion for filmmaking and thus I immediately connected to her story.
This short film begins with a shot of the sun and the filmmaker, Walaa Al Alawi, telling us about the movie she’s writing. Walaa is 16, living in Dara’a, Syria. Her voice depicts a person that is both humble and self-assured. I don’t want to give away too much of the content, as it is not a very long film. But essentially this movie displays a young, creative woman who wants to share her story but is living in very unfortunate circumstances, being moved from one war stricken country to the next. Walaa’s story moved me. I live in a country where resources are at my disposal to explore the medium of film. Walaa is living in a developing world setting but she doesn’t let this stop her from creating meaningful art. Her reality and circumstances enhanced my feeling of gratitude. She further sparked this motivation in me to make films and not to let anything stop me from doing so. In the five minutes that you witness her life, you can sense her drive to be herself and express this through a lens.
Walaa talks of bombs falling from the sky in the nonchalant tone I would use when discussing my plans for the weekend. She tells a story of experiencing a friend getting shot through the head. These are situations that are almost unheard of in Canada. We have such a skewed idea of what violence is. We have only broken the cusp in our knowledge of the relentless suffering these people, especially women, in the Middle East witness and experience. This short film provides a realistic portrayal of this but also succeeds in humanizing the people we read about or see on the news with a very normal story of a girl who just wants to pursue her passion.
In essence, The Girl, Whose Shadow Reflects the Moon is a snapshot into the life of a girl living in an unjust world but who just wants to make a movie. It’s complete with an intelligent narrative, captivating shots of the sky that allude to abstract photography, and a story that will inspire you do what you love despite any obstacles that stand in your way.
By Gloria Burke
Gloria Burke is a Grade 11 student. She is interested in film, music and the outdoors. She works at Vancouver’s Roundhouse Radio part-time, editing audio.
Walaa Al Alawi, 16, is from Dara’a, Syria. She fled the civil war 3 years ago and now lives as a refugee in Irbid, Jordan. This is her first time using a camera and making a film, which she created during a 6-week video workshop, facilitated by the Another Kind of Girl Collective:
“The workshops, one in Jordan’s Za’atari Refugee Camp and the other in the city of Irbid in northern Jordan, engaged refugee girls in artistic and technical training in photo and video, with encouragement to reflect on and voice their own experiences. Each individual girl was encouraged to follow the personal and artistic voice that she was discovering, and to experiment with different artistic approaches to storytelling. The workshops provided a safe and adventurous space where the girls could take risks, make mistakes, and support each other in their ideas and transformations.
The experience of storytelling through film and photography gave the girls a sense of agency and power over their stories. It transformed the foreign landscape of the refugee camp into new terrain for exploration, self-discovery and self-expression. Taking photos and video became a way for them to articulate the sometimes unspeakable, a lens through which to look at and experience the world around them in new ways, and a tool with which they were able to investigate and start to ask themselves and the world around them critical questions.” — Filmmaker Laura Doggett, who designed the workshops, and ran them with her translator and co-facilitator, Tasneem Toghoj.
The Girl, Whose Shadow Reflects the Moon, plays on Saturday March 12th at 12:00 PM in the section Perspectives, a collection of short films, followed by a moderated panel discussion.
Read more about Walaa’s film here.