Tatarstan Muslim film festival supported widely

October 2007 -

The international film festival Golden Minbar is a stage for Muslim cinema. The third edition was held in Kazan in September 2007. The films shown, fiction and documentaries, were primarily made by film makers from the Arab world. The programme also included films from Iran, Europe, the US and Central Asia.


Moefti Sheikh Ravil Gajnutdin - president of the filmfestival - during his opening speech.

The spectrum of themes was broad: films about Sufism, nuclear testing in Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabian melodramas were shown. A strikingly large number of films dealt with the situation of Muslims throughout the world, sometimes placing too much emphasis on the role of victim, as was the case with themes including the wars in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Iraq, tensions between Hindus and Muslims in India, and Islam phobia in the United States.

A variety of cinematographic experiments were surprising: the silent black-and-white film Mirrors of Silence by Nawaf Al-Janahi of the United Arab Emirates and the beautiful short film Rise and Shine by the Egyptian Sherif El-Benday. In only nine minutes, this film maker tells the history of a working mother frantically searching for her keys.

The film festival took place based on an initiative by the supervisory council of Muftis in Russia, the Islamic Culture Centre in Russia (ICCR) and Tatarstan's Ministry of Culture. The enthusiastic involvement from the Muslim community reflects the revival of the Islam in Russia. It demonstrates that religion is celebrating its return to public life in Russia since the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Tatarstan - a country rich in resources including crude oil and natural gas - is one of the seven Russian provinces where a majority of the population, Tartars, is Muslim. The population of its capitol of Kazan, which consists of 50% Orthodox Christian Russians and 40% Muslim Tartars, lives in peace.The streets of Kazan are also characterised by mosques and churches. The Kremlin of Kazan, listed by UNESCO in the world heritage, is home to both the Annunciation Cathedral (1561/62) and Russia's largest mosque, the Kul Sharif that was reconstructed in 2005.

Kazan shows that Muslims and Christians can live together in peace. Perhaps that is also why the Minister of Culture awarded the film The Peace Tree by Canadian film maker Mitra Sen the award for humanity in the art of film. Sen's film tells the story of two young girls, a Muslim and a Christian, who wish to celebrate one another's holidays together, despite their parents' resentments.