This is an archived blog from when I ran Conscious Public Relations Inc. from 2008-2018. Excuse the potential outdated-ness!
Well, you don’t know it’s me, but I’m on the left, in one of the burqas. Working on the Publicity for Brishkay Ahmed’s film, Story of Burqa: Case of a Confused Afghan, leading up to her DOXA premiere on May 10, has surprisingly been one of the best working experiences yet. Click here to go to the Georgia Straight cover story online.
The film is no stranger to controversy. Afghanistans probably still think the burqa is normal for women to wear, but for Westerners like myself and Brishkay, it is a ridiculous political tool that has been stripped from its religious meaning, unlike the Islamic hijab, which reveals a woman’s face. Before seeing the film I had no idea what the difference was between a burqa and a hijab. After wearing a burqa firsthand, I can tell you that it is not a breathable or comfortable garment – most are made of polyester. Now imagine wearing that 24/7 in the desert.
It’s not difficult to see through the eyepiece, but I have fairly long lashes which kept hitting the cloth when I blinked, which was the most annoying part of wearing it. The headpiece isn’t hard to put on after several tries but you always have to make sure it’s in place so the eyepiece is just right. My arms were completely covered so it take some effort to lift in order to pick up things and turn knobs.
On the Georgia Straight cover, Brishkay is wearing an heirloom: a one-hundred year old or so traditional Afghan coat passed down in her family through the generations. In the past, these coats were worn by both women and men. It’s nowhere near mint condition, but the colours were unlike anything I’ve ever seen, except for maybe Joseph’s technicolor dream coat. And I love that Brishkay wore it on the cover to show that women can still be traditional and can still be religious without wearing a burqa.
I am so thankful to Brishkay, the DOXA team, and Marnie Wilson of the Artsbiz Public Relations for her amazing work on helping the film get out there. They are what have made this project such a memorable experience.
Can’t wait to see everyone at the screening on May 10, 7pm at Empire Granville 7. Mozhdah Jamalzadah (known as the “Oprah of Afghanistan”) will sing a song afterwards and Brishkay will do a Q&A too so DON’T MISS IT!