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Australia’s First Muslim Film Festival Opens in Perth

The first Muslim film festival opened this weekend in Perth, Australia, telling stories of Muslims or stories made by Muslims, SBS reported.

“What we thought would be interesting for the Muslim community, would be to have an opportunity to see films from around the world by Muslims, and covering topics of interest to Muslims from around the world,” festival Director Joann McKeown said.

“These aren’t things that we generally get to see in the cinema in Australia, so we’re giving the opportunity for the community to come together and see something different.”

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The inaugural Muslim Film Festival has 60 entries that will be screened during September.

Six of the featured filmmakers are Australians, both Muslim and non-Muslim, and explore issues as diverse as culture, relationships, Islamophobia and racism.

“Some people when they hear a Muslim film festival, they think it might be a religious festival like we’re going to teach people about prayer or fasting. It’s not the case,” festival organizer Tarek Chamkhi says.

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“The festival is to tell the stories from Muslim societies around the world and from Australia of course. Tell it as it is, with pros and cons.

“We believe that when you tell it as it is, it breaks down racism, stereotypes, and xenophobia and make people have more understanding.”

Addition to Australian Cinema

Showing the contributions of the Islamic community to Australian history, including the pioneering Afghan cameleers, community leaders believe the films are a welcome addition to Australian cinema.

“Cameleers, there is also another history like when they came from Indonesia to do fishing and sailing,” Federation of Islamic Councils Australia Dr. Ratib Junaid said.

“So it’s important for the new generation and the old generation to see that contribution to Australia.”

Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.

Islam is the country’s second-largest` religion after Christianity.

Last June, Islamic Museum of Australia opened artist registrations to participate in the Australian Muslim Artists (AMA) 2019 exhibition, which will open on 12 September when the winner of the La Trobe University Muslim Artists Acquisitive Art Prize will also be announced.

Later on July, La Trobe University announced they will be supporting the Islamic Museum of Australia’s annual Muslim artists exhibition as a major sponsor.