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Berlinale:A Religious View of.....

The debut feature of an Afghan-German director joined the running for the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival Wednesday, one of a clutch of features taking a fresh look at Islam at this year's event.

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Lights,Camera and Action!...at the Red Carpet area

"Shahada" (Faith), the film school graduation project of

29-year-old Burhan Qurbani, is competing against 19 features by the

likes of Roman Polanski and Chinese veteran Zhang Yimou at one of

Europe's top cinema showcases.

Regisseur Berlinale 2010 Burhan Qurbani

Islam,Questionable?:Burhan Qurbani

The picture zeroes in on three young Muslims in Berlin

struggling with an unexpected pregnancy, gay love and a freak

accident that cause each of them to question the Islamic values

imparted by their families.

Conservative themes?


It picks up recurrent themes in several entries at the 60th

Berlinale, where drama, comedies and thrillers are reconciling

modern life in the West with the Muslim faith.

"Terrorism, honour killings, fundamentalism and female

oppression. The themes of films in the Berlin festival lineup this

year could read like a series of banner headlines from Fox News,"

the Hollywood Reporter wrote, referring to the conservative US

channel.

"But instead of sensationalism and stereotypes, what the

films... offer are new images of Islam."

Qurbani said he had aimed to demonstrate that people who are

fully engaged in modern society can also observe their faith, and

question it.

"I'm a Muslim but Muslim 2.0 -- an upgrade," he told a news

conference after a press preview.

"You are Muslim even if you don't do everything that is in the

Koran. The faith is too big to be diminished by that."

Moderate Islam

He bristled when a German reporter questioned the plausibility

of one of his characters, a moderate, tolerant imam who forgives his

daughter for her abortion when she nearly dies due to

complications.

"I don't know how many imams you spoke to recently but they are

not all hate preachers -- 99 percent of them are not hate

preachers," he said.

But he acknowledged: "I created this imam as my ideal -- I also

haven't met one like him."

Hindu-Islam on spotlight

Also in Berlin, Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan presented his

new movie "My Name is Khan" about discrimination faced by Muslims in

the United States in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

My name is Khan Plakat

Tolerance 21st century style:My name is Khan

The nearly three-hour-long epic -- a lightning rod for

Hindu-Islamic tension in India after Khan criticised the lack of

Pakistani cricketers in the Indian Premier League -- sees Khan

preaching against hatred on an American road trip.

The Times of India said it sent a message "that tolerance is the

indispensable virtue for the 21st century which can have no place

for (fundamentalists), regionalists, communalists, casteists,

gender, class and cultural chauvinists".

A more modest picture, "When We Leave" in the Panorama sidebar

section of the festival, tackles honour killings, focusing on a

German-Turkish woman whose father condemns her to die after she

leaves her abusive husband.

Berlinale 2010 Pierce Brosnan Olivia Williams Ewan Mcgregor Flash-Galerie

A slice of Hollywood, Pierce Brosnan (L)Olivia Williams(c)and Ewan Mcgregor(L)of 'The Ghost Writer'

The film resonated in particular with Berlin audiences as it

stars Sibel Kekilli, who dazzled audiences in the breakout film by

German-Turkish director Fatih Akin "Head-On", which won the Golden

Bear in 2004.

Immediately after the film's triumph, the German tabloid press

revealed that Kekilli had appeared in a few adult movies, leading

her conservative Muslim family to disown her.

Still to come in competition this week is "On the Path" by

another former Golden Bear winner, Jasmila Zbanic of Bosnia.

In it, a husband finds work in a community of conservative

Wahhabi Muslims and begins to adopt its practices but he drives a

wedge through his marriage in the process.

The Berlinale jury will award the top prizes Saturday before the

festival wraps up the following day.

AFP 171124 GMT FEB 10

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