U Film Society optimistic arts can aid with coping

Amy Hackbarth

To combat Arab-American discrimination around campus, the University Film Society will show a film celebrating the relationships of Islamic, Christian and Jewish families.

A Summer in la Goulette, a 1996 comedy directed by Ferid Boughedir, chronicles the lives and relationships of three families – one Islamic, one Christian and one Jewish – in a sleepy Tunisian town in 1967.

“It’s a film about friendship, questioning whether Christians and Muslims can be friends,” said Al Milgrom, director of the University Film Society.

Milgrom decided to show the film after receiving an email from the Minnesota Arts Board reiterating the importance of the arts in times of crisis.

“We know that the arts have a unique ability to heal the wounds in our society,” said Robert Booker, executive director of the Minnesota Arts Board, in a written statement.

Milgrom said he saw A Summer in la Goulette more than a year ago. He remembered the film because its subject matter was relevant to the aftermath of the attacks. It also coincided with an opening in the society’s schedule.

“It struck me that this film would be timely,” Milgrom said. “And now that there are are all of these threats that Muslims are receiving, this movie might have the perspective some people need.”

The Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee has been instrumental in the promotion of the film, Milgrom said. The committee has emailed friends about the film and put up posters.

Kathryn Haddad, a member of the committee who has felt indirectly discriminated against since the attacks, will speak about tolerance and Arab-American discrimination after the film’s showings Fri. and Sat. night.

A Summer in la Goulette explores the close friendships of three Islamic, Christian and Jewish families days before the Six Days War. Tensions mount when the 16-year-old daughter in each family plots with her friends to lose her virginity.

The girls’ sexuality strains the relationships among their fathers, who yell shallow religious stereotypes at their former best friends in a misguided attempt to regain control of their daughters.

In A Summer in la Goulette, Boughedir exposes the superficiality of discrimination and the inevitability of change. His characters are normal people: stubborn and quick to hate, but ultimately loving.

The film is a snapshot of a peaceful time in Tunisia, where religions coexisted without crisis.

It is a message Milgrom hopes will reach the audience, he said.

“It seemed like an appropriate film for the time,” Milgrom said. “It’s about tolerance. Of course, at this time, I don’t know if we’re ready for tolerance.”

 

Amy Hackbarth welcomes comments at [email protected]