Algerian-French supermodel and now filmmaker Farida Khelfa examines misconceptions and stereotypes regarding Middle Eastern women in her new film From The Other Side of the Veil, which is available via YouTube next month.
Both her parents are Algerian, and while she was born in France she has returned to her homeland several times as well as travelling to other Middle Eastern countries. As a Muslim women with Middle Eastern ancestry but very much at home in the West, she took a keen interest in Muslim Arab women.
“I was invited to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and I met all these young women who were so talented, so articulate and well educated,” Khelfa told magazine AnOther.“The way the western media portrays women in this region is so dated and inaccurate and I really wanted to do something about that.”
Her film delves into the fashion world and explores the history of traditional Arab attire such as the abaya, and turns the camera on women working in the creative arena, interviewees include Vogue Arabia’s ex editor-in-chief, Saudi princess Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz and Fatma Al Remaihi, Chief Executive Officer of the Doha Film Institute
Khelfa has been quoted as saying:“ The most important thing for me was to show reality. Women are so important in the Middle East, I believe they are the future and will be leading the region soon. So many of them are business owners and CEOs who have graduated from Harvard, Stanford and all the best universities in the world.
“They’re not victims like we’re constantly told they are. They’re fighters who are comfortable expressing themselves. Seeing them as victims is a colonial point of view.”