Funded! This project was successfully funded on September 10, 2011.

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Documentary film about an inspiring female Qur’an teacher giving women the tools to challenge cultural traditions in Damascus, Syria.

“A woman is a school. Teach her, and you teach a generation.”

-- Lutfiyeh, student at Al-Zahra Mosque Qur’an School for girls

We’ve been following preacher Houda al-Habash since 2008, the leader of Al-Zahra Qur’an School for women and girls, and her community in Damascus, Syria. Now we need YOUR support to help us finish the editing and final post-production of our film.

Please "Like" us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and check out our website for more news about the project, thelightinhereyesmovie.com.

ABOUT THE FILM

Houda al-Habash, a conservative Muslim preacher, founded Al-Zahra Qur’an school for girls in Damascus, Syria when she was 17 years old. Every summer, her students immerse themselves in a rigorous study of Islam, in addition to their secular schooling. A surprising cultural shift is underway—women are claiming space within the mosque, a place historically dominated by men.

Challenging tradition, Houda insists education for women is a form of worship. Using Qur’anic teachings, she encourages her students to pursue higher education, jobs, and public lives, while remaining committed to an interpretation of Islam which prioritizes women’s role as wives and mothers. In a world rarely seen, THE LIGHT IN HER EYES tells the story of a leader who challenges the women of her community to live according to Islam, without giving up their dreams. Shot right before the uprising in Syria began, the film is an exclusive look at a social movement thriving in a country controlled by a repressive regime.

Over the course of one summer, the women and girls in Houda's mosque attend Qur’an classes, go on field trips out of town, and socialize with friends at home. Women juggle the responsibilities typical of working mothers, teenagers try on forbidden makeup, and university students compare exams in finance and computer science. By telling the story of one woman’s Qur’an school, we show how the Islamic revival, and women’s role within it, could impact the region’s future.

WHY ARE WE MAKING THIS FILM?  

As filmmakers we’re interested in complex characters, and Houda al-Habash is a fascinating figure. She’s passionate, inspiring, and often contradictory. As Americans, we’re exposed to violent and extremist images of Islam which flood our media, and we’re dedicated to creating an alternative portrait of contemporary moderate Islam. As women directors, we recognize how Houda’s message both speaks to and departs from our version of feminism. Our film embraces this contradiction, committed to both questioning and celebrating the impact of her vision—expanding women’s opportunities through Islamic education.

WHY ARE WE FUNDRAISING?

We’ve been working on the film since 2008, and will complete the entire project by the end of this year. We finished principal photography in November 2010, and are in the middle of editing. The money we raise will go directly towards the expenses of the film, including the cost of paying our talented editor, finalizing our translation, and doing the final post-production on the film—the online, color correct and sound mix.

HOW DOES KICKSTARTER WORK?

MAKE A DONATION TO THE FILM AND YOU GET A REWARD.
Choose the amount you’d like to donate, and the gift you’d like to receive. Once funding is completed, we will list your name on our website, and send other rewards by mail.

IF WE DON’T MEET OUR GOAL, WE DON’T GET ANY OF THE MONEY.
That’s right, even if we’re $10 short of our goal, we won’t get the money. That’s why we need you to kick in and help us out!

IF WE RAISE ALL OR MORE THAN OUR TARGET AMOUNT BEFORE THE DEADLINE, WE GET TO KEEP THE WHOLE AMOUNT.
All funds will go directly to Clockshop, the 501(c)3 that is producing the project. Our $10,000 goal is just a portion of our total budget to be able to finish the film, anything we raise over that will go directly towards the finishing costs,  for instance, the cost of hiring a composer, and creating our HD delivery masters.

***TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS***
If you'd like to make a tax-deductible donation of $100 or more, please contact Director/Producer Julia Meltzer at thelightinhereyes@gmail.com to find out how to make your donation through our 501(c)3.

I’M INTERESTED IN YOUR PROJECT, BUT I CAN’T DONATE RIGHT NOW. CAN I DO ANYTHING ELSE TO HELP?
Yes!! You can personally email your friends and family to encourage them to donate, or just to let them know about the project, and you can spread the word by linking to our Kickstarter campaign on YOUR Facebook profile and YOUR Twitter feed. This is a word of mouth campaign, and its success relies on people being aware of the film. One of the most important goals of crowdfunding is to find our audience for the film. 

Please "Like" us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and check out our website for more news about the project, thelightinhereyesmovie.com.

We are happy to receive your donation from $10 to whatever you can afford, so join our growing community of supporters and help us bring this story to audiences around the world.

ANY OTHER QUESTIONS, PLEASE CONTACT US
We'd love to hear from you! Email us at thelightinhereyes@gmail.com and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

FAQ

  • It took several years to gain Houda’s trust before she gave us permission to shoot inside her mosque. Mosques are typically under government surveillance in Syria, and are monitored very closely, so Houda thought carefully about this decision. In the end, we had to shoot the film without approval from the Syrian government, making it difficult to shoot on city streets. When we went to Damascus to shoot, we usually flew to Lebanon, Beirut, and took a taxi to Damascus, entering Syria through the Lebanese border. This border lacks x-ray equipment, therefore it was easier to get our camera and sound gear into the country.

    The entire film was shot with an all-woman crew, including camera, our translator and sound person. We worked as a small team in order to avoid unnecessary attention to ourselves. A successful military dictatorship succeeds by creating a culture of fear, and a feeling of suspicion and tension pervades the country. Syrians can be detained just for their associations and opinions, and therefore are very careful about who they associate with. Each time we returned to Syria it had become more difficult to shoot, and some of our subjects were concerned about working with us because we are foreigners. Houda and the women in her community were understandably nervous about spending time with an American film crew, and we are grateful to her, and her mosque sisters, for their trust and graciousness in allowing us to tell their story.

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  • Help us go viral. "Like" us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and check out our website for more news about the project, thelightinhereyesmovie.com.

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  • We’re aiming for broadcast on national and international television. We also plan to distribute the film in the educational market (schools and colleges), film festivals, home video and the internet. Help us get this film seen!

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  • We will be doing extensive outreach after the film is completed, holding community screenings with panel discussions .

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  • In order to shoot and edit so far, we’ve received grants from the Guggenheim, Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, Art Matters, and the Center for Cultural Innovation. We are grateful to these organizations for their support.

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Funding period

- (85 days)