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Trailblazers and Troublemakers: Filmmakers Telling the Stories of Jewish & Muslim Women

  • Noor Cultural Centre 123 Wynford Drive North York, ON, M3C 1K1 Canada (map)

SUNDAY, APRIL 30 | Doors open at 7 PM, Program at 7:30 PM

$10 in advance, $12 at the door | FREE for students with ID



Canadian filmmakers Zarqa Nawaz (journalist and creator of CBC's Little Mosque on the Prairie) and Francine Zuckerman (writer, producer and director) share insights and excerpts from their ground-breaking documentaries, Me & The Mosque and Half the Kingdom. These films focus on the efforts of Muslim and Jewish women to reconcile deeply held faith commitments with their desires for equal access to communal and ritual spaces. Join these visionary women in conversation about the impact of their films and their ongoing relevance in the current political climate.

Trailblazers and Troublemakers is presented together with the FENTSTER exhibition, Blood, Milk and Tears an installation created by local Muslim and Jewish women. Together, the installation and the films reveal the complicated nature of religious identities in the 21st Century.


Presented by FENTSTER and Shema & Iqra’: The Jewish-Muslim Text Project

Community Partners: Noor Cultural Centre, University of Toronto Multi-Faith Centre, Makom: Creative Downtown Judaism  and Emmanuel College of Victoria University in the University of Toronto

Zarqa Nawaz created the world’s first sitcom about a Muslim community living in the west. Little Mosque on the Prairie premiered to record ratings on the CBC in 2007. It finished airing it’s 91th episode in 2012 after completing 6 seasons and is now being broadcast to over 60 countries.  The show demystified Islam for millions of people around the world by explaining how practicing Muslims live their lives from dating to marriage to burying their dead. She has written and directed four comedy short films: BBQ MUSLIMS, Death Threat, Random Check and Fred’s Burqa. In 2005, Nawaz made the ground-breaking documentary Me and the Mosque, about Muslim women’s battle with patriarchy in the mosque which ultimately inspired the television series. There are no dead people in it. She also has written a best-selling comedic memoir Laughing All the Way to the Mosque, about growing up as a Canadian of Muslim faith. Nawaz is also a frequent public speaker on Islam and comedy, gender and faith, multiculturalism and plurality.  She has a B.Sc from the University of Toronto and a B.A.A in journalism from Ryerson University. She has four children and a husband stashed away in Regina.

Francine Zuckerman has won numerous awards as writer, producer and director, and her work has been recognized at film festivals around the world. Zuckerman graduated from McGill University’s film program and joined the National Film Board to co-produce and direct her first documentary film, Half the Kingdom. A controversial film about women and Judaism, Half the Kingdom (NFB, Telefilm, TVO, Channel 4, SBS) was invited to participate in more than twenty international film festivals and won several awards. Zuckerman produced and directed Exposure: environmental links to breast cancer; a Canada - New Zealand co-production Punch Me in the Stomach, (OMDC, CBC, PBS, NZ On Air,TV3) starring Deb Filler which premiered at the London International Film Festival; the Gemini nominated dramatic anthology TV series The Atwood Stories (CTF, W Network, Rogers) based on the short stories of Margaret Atwood and Passengers (Showcase, CBC, W Network) which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and then screened at film festivals around the world including Palm Springs, San Paulo and Vancouver. Her latest film, We Are Here (documentary, CMF) documents the revival of Jewish life in Poland seen through the eyes for five subjects and their families. She just completed Mr. Bernstein (OAC), a short film about a young woman’s chance encounter with maestro, Leonard Bernstein. Zuckerman’s films in development include: a feature film based on Margaret Atwood’s novel The Edible Woman with Quarterlife Productions and a new feature documentary co-pro The Aftermath


Presenting site-specific installations of contemporary art connected to the Jewish experience, FENTSTER (Yiddish for "window") is an independent artist-run exhibition space located in the storefront window of the grassroots community Makom: Creative Downtown Judaism. Blood, Milk & Tears is on view 24/7 from February 23 to May 24 at 402 College Street.

The grassroots Shema & Iqra': The Jewish-Muslim Text Project brings together Muslims and Jews using religious texts as a springboard for dialogue about issues of mutual concern. In early 2016, Shema & Iqra' ran the “Blood, Milk and Tears” textual-study and arts collective for Jewish and Muslim women artists investigating links between gender, embodiment and identity. The FENTSTER installation is an outgrowth of that initial program.

Earlier Event: March 8
Opening for Blood, Milk and Tears
Later Event: June 7
Opening for Jeremiah: ha'aretz