HWS Series Tries ‘Putting the Fun Back in Fundamentalism’ – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

HWS Series Tries ‘Putting the Fun Back in Fundamentalism’

Comedies about terrorism screened during next Fisher Center lecture

(Feb. 4, 2004) GENEVA, N.Y.–There's nothing funny about terrorism, but stereotyping Muslims as radicals is no laughing matter, either. That's the general idea behind the pictures of filmmaker and journalist Zarqa Nawaz, whose “terrordies”–comedies about terrorism–aim to confront stereotypes associated with Muslims through humor.

Nawaz will screen and discuss her films on the Hobart and William Smith campus as the second installment in the Colleges' spring Fisher Center lecture series. Titled “Putting the Fun Back into Fundamentalism,” the event begins at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 18, in the Geneva Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library. An open roundtable discussion with Nawaz begins at 8:45 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 19, in the Fisher Center, 212 Demarest Hall. Both events are free and open to the public.

Described as having a “satirical bent of mind,” Nawaz's films deploy loads of wit to examine the stereotypes of Muslims as terrorists, wife abusers and religious extremists. Her first movie, a five-minute comedy called “BBQ Muslims,” follows the travails of two brothers who are labeled terrorists after the accidental explosion of their gas barbeque. Next came “Death Threat,” about a young Muslim woman who tries to exploit society's stereotypes for her personal gain, but winds up a victim of the same pigeonholing. These short films premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 1996 and 1998, respectively.

Born in Liverpool and raised in Toronto, Nawaz has worked as a freelance writer/broadcaster with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio, and as associate producer on a number of CBC programs, including “Morningside” and “The National.” Her radio documentary, “The Changing Rituals of Death,” won the Chairman's Award in Radio Production in 1992. Currently, she is working on a feature film, “Real Terrorists Don't Belly Dance.”

Fisher Center lectures and seminars provide a forum for students, faculty and community members to explore gender issues. The Center, founded with a $1 million gift from Emily and Richard Fisher, whose son Alexander graduated from Hobart College in 1993, seeks to foster mutual understanding and social justice in contemporary gender issues.