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Tea on the Axis of Evil

2009
Distributed by Typecast Releasing, 3131 Western Ave., Suite 514, Seattle, WA 09121; 206-322-0882
Produced by Bruce J. Stone
Directed by Jean Marie Offenbacher
DVD, color, 67 min.
Jr. High - Adult
Human Rights, Religious Studies, World History, Islam, Political Science, Women's Studies, Activism


Reviewed by Malcolm L. Rigsby, Department of Sociology, Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia, AR

Highly Recommended  Highly Recommended   
 
Date Entered: 9/16/2010

As stated on the DVD jacket this film seeks to record a portrait of life across Syria. But it actually goes deeper as director and writer Jean Marie Offenbacher travels about the country speaking with the citizens she meets. This is truly a narrative of description set forth through the analysis of the participants’ own lives. This gives the viewer perhaps for the first time an intriguing opportunity to dive into the lives of everyday Syrian peoples; to see into their interpretations of life, America, what it is to be Syrian, being Muslim or Christian, their views on dating, marriage, education, art, and politics.

In aftermath of President George W. Bush’s inclusion of the Syrian nation in the “Axis of Evil” this inquisitive film maker decided to travel to Syria and seek to give the people an opportunity to express themselves as Syrian people to the rest of the world. What she uncovers are a people as diverse as other people of the world find their own nationality and statehood. The film depicts that she uncovered a friendly people seeking a better life, with personal and family aspirations, desires, and feelings that are comparable perhaps with most viewers. Offenbacher interviews college students, hardworking youth, young adults, and older adults. She seeks a balanced introduction into the lives of the educated and not as educated as she explores the commonalities of human life from birthdays to weddings and dating.

Translations of the local languages (Aramaic and Syrian Arabic) into English are word for word. And so, the viewer may find it difficult at times to follow the translation; however the light-hearted and enjoyable discussions will pull the listener into the dialogue.

The crux of the film seems to fall upon the statement about the Axis of Evil. Is Syria part of such an axis; or is there potential for the development of radical Islamism (as defined in the film) and therefore indicative of future relations between the United States and Syria? Is such a potential the result of political currents? These and other issues are explored as we listen to the people who are enabled in this video to speak for and about their country and express it in terms of their own lives and social-cultural circles.

Award

  • Noor Award, Outstanding Documentary, San Francisco Arab Film Fest
  • Special Mention Jury Award, Salento International Film Festival