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Thursday, March 30, 2023

New initiative aims to change how Muslims are portrayed in films

The advocacy group, backed by the Walt Disney Company, has created a new initiative to promote the involvement of Muslims in filmmaking, following a report released this year that found Muslims are rarely portrayed in popular films and that many Muslim characters are related. to violence.

The project, the Pillars database of Muslim artists, was announced Tuesday by the Pillars Fund, an advocacy group based in Chicago. He prepared an earlier report on the image in conjunction with the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and others.

Kashif Sheikh, co-founder of Pillars and its president, said that when the group discussed the results, industry representatives often said they did not know where to find Muslim writers or actors.

The database, Sheikh said, aims to give Muslim actors, directors, filmmakers, sound technicians and others who can help create more detailed images the ability to create online profiles that can be viewed by those who are hiring for film, television and streaming production.

Thus, “Muslims across the country will be able to participate and share their talents, share their experiences,” Sheikh said. “It really was a resource for the studios, for the film industry.”

The Missing & Defamatory images report was released in June and contains an analysis of the top 200 grossing films released between 2017 and 2019 in the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand.

Of the 8,965 speaking characters, 1.6 percent were Muslim, the report says. He added that just over 60 percent of the main and secondary Muslim characters have appeared in films set in the historical or recent past. The report says that just under 40 percent have starred in three films set in what is now Australia, and most of these characters – including “the only Muslim protagonist” – appeared in one movie, Ali’s Wedding, released in 2017.

Pillars, along with the Inclusion Initiative and British actor Reese Ahmed and his production company Left Handed Films, also released a companion report entitled The Muslim Inclusion Plan, which aims to “fundamentally change the way Muslims are portrayed on screen.” “

Sheikh said that before the reports were released, Pillars began negotiations with Disney, which supported the creation of the database with a $ 20,000 grant.

Latondra Newton, senior vice president and director of diversity at Disney, said in a statement that this support was part of an ongoing effort to “amplify under-represented voices and untold stories,” adding, “We are honored to maintain the new Pillars Muslim Artist Database. … “

This follows last week’s announcement of The Time Is Now: The Power of Indigenous Representation in Entertainment, which is the result of a partnership between Disney and IllumiNative, a non-profit group that works to raise the profile of indigenous peoples and peoples in American society. “

The guide was created to “help move beyond outdated, inaccurate and often offensive portrayals of indigenous peoples in pop culture,” the group said in a statement. It includes the sections “Coping with negative stereotypes”, “Avoiding cultural appropriation” and “Supporting local storytellers”.

The support for the Pillars and IllumiNative projects is the latest example of how Disney is promoting diversity amid complaints that Hollywood offers too few opportunities for women, people of color and people with disabilities.

Some of Disney’s most famous works from a decade ago, including Song of the South and Dumbo, have been criticized for including racist imagery and what was perceived as thinly veiled racist cartoons.

“Aladdin,” the Oscar-winning animated film released by Disney in 1992, featured a mostly white voice and an opening song with lyrics about a distant place: “Where they cut your ear off / If they don’t like your face / It’s barbaric, but it’s a house. (Disney stated in 1993, following objections from members of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, that the harsh reference would be removed, but the word “barbaric” would remain.)

However, over the past few years, as the company’s executive chairman Robert A. Iger has emphasized the diversity of casting and storytelling, several of the studio’s projects have been widely recognized as groundbreaking.

Black Panther, a 2018 Disney-Marvel superhero blockbuster, consisted almost entirely of black actors as well as a black director. The collection of movies and streaming services announced by Marvel in 2019 also highlighted the diversity on both sides of the camera.

And when Disney released a live remake of Aladdin in 2019, the word “chaotic” replaced the word “barbaric” in the opening song.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Deskhttps://worldnationnews.com/
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