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concordia 10/11/2018 - 12:00AM

Standing Ovation at Cinema Politica Screening of I AM ROHINGYA

Images from CP Concordia's screening of Yusuf Zine's I AM ROHINGYA

On Monday October29th, Cinema Politica Concordia proudly presented I AM ROHINGYA, which was co-presented by True North Insight. The inspiring and ground-breaking film – which was met with a standing ovation as the credits rolled – was followed by an enlivened Q&A with the director of the film Yusuf Zine. We were also delighted to have one of the protagonists, Ahmed Ullah, join the Q&A through Skype for an enlightening and truly inspirational discussion. The screening of I AM ROHINGYA was preceded by a film called THE CEREMONY by Taina Da Silva & Becca Redden, which is part of the Documentary Futurism program launched by Cinema Politica in September 2018.

In I AM ROHINGYA A GENOCIDE IN FOUR ACTS (2018), Zine traces some of the historical turning points of the Rohingya minority within Myanmar leading up to the current genocide. However, I AM ROHINGYA is not your typical documentary. Although the poignant film came out during a moment of heightened public awareness on the issue of the Rohingya genocide, I AM ROHINGYA has been a long time coming. During the post-screening discussion, Zine told the audience the film took over three years to make.

What is most extraordinary about the film is its premise: fourteen Rohingya youth re-enact their families' stories of violence and persecution in front of a live audience. It follows the ensemble cast during their rehearsals leading up to opening night at the University of Waterloo’s Theatre of Arts in 2016. With no prior acting experience, the Rohingya refugees, who are now living in Canada, drew from their own memories and experiences for this live theatre production. By doing so, their touching contribution becomes a courageous act of resistance, demonstrating to the world that they will not be erased or silenced. With such inspiring and sobering stories, it is no surprise that the film ended with a lengthy, emotional standing ovation.

Since I AM ROHINGYA was released, Ullah has spoken at the UN and the European Parliament about the Rohingya genocide. With an inspired sense of urgency, during the Q&A Ullah discussed the fact that calling the situation in Myanmar a genocide is important as it becomes actionable by law. Although Canada has taken steps in the right direction, the government still has a long way to go in order to actually be a champion for human rights in Myanmar.

The importance of the story told in I AM ROHINGYA cannot be underestimated. The brilliant documentary undoubtedly plays an important part in raising awareness and public consciousness on this issue around the world, but it has also helped the Rohingya community in Canada. Speaking to an alarmed and captivated audience, Zine said that the children taking part in the play have also started asking more questions about their own history since the striking and ground-breaking film came out. Here, the impact and importance of a film like I AM ROHINGYA is unquestionable, which judging from their reaction on Monday night in Montreal, the audience felt as well.


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