Claudia Karvan, Al Clarke, members of the Screen Australia Board, you say I pose a risk to SA staff. Owing to your duty of care, you say, you cannot allow SA staff to meet with or communicate with me. You refuse to provide me with any evidence that I pose a risk; that I have engaged in ‘highly offensive conduct’. The reason is simple. There is none. And you know it. Your ban is a fatwa; punishment for a critic; a warning to other filmmakers.
Monday, December 10, 2012
Another script in development Screen Australia refuses to read and assess!
1 EXT. ARID LANDSCAPE. DAY
Extreme close-up of a woman’s eyes, framed by a black burqa. The sound of men laughing. The woman is scared. Very scared. The shot holds for quite some time. The sound of men laughing is mixed with their chatter in Afghani. A wider shot reveals the upper part of the woman chador-clad body. Behind her is an arid landscape devoid of dwellings of any kind. The woman clutches the chador nervously with youthful hands.
In a wider shot yet the chador-clad woman is revealed to be buried in the ground up to her waist. In a reverse angle shot, the woman in the foreground, dozens of Afghani men with stones in their hands ready themselves for the task in hand. One steps forward, a smile on his face. He lifts the stone (the size of a cricket ball) above his shoulder, says something in Afghani that makes the other men laugh, takes aim and throws his stone. The laughter carries over to:
2 INT. COMEDY CLUB. NGHT
Close-up of two eyes framed by a black burqa. This is JASMIN. The sound of laughter in the background – male and female mixed. We are in a different place now. Inside. A woman’s Australian-accented voice:
JASMIN For any Muslims in the audience tonight, remember that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, disapproved of excessive laughter. ‘Do not laugh too much,’ he said, ‘for excessive laughter corrupts the heart …
As she speaks, moves her head, it becomes apparent that JASMIN’S eyes are the only part of her face visible to the audience – the rest covered with a black burqa.
JASMIN And he practiced what he preached at least according to Aisha, Muhammad’s seven year old bride who said…okay, for those of you who think it might be a bit suss for a 53 year old man to have a 7 year old wife, relax. He didn’t have sex with Aisha until she turned nine…anyhow, this is what Aisha had to say about the Prophet laughing:
Close on another set of eyes, a man’s, barely visible behind dark-tinted glasses. He is angry.
JASMIN (voice off) I never saw the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, laughing so heartily that his back teeth showed…’”
Sound drains away and the images fades to black.
Title card: HONOUR
Sound and images fade back in.
JASMIN, seen in a wide shot to be dressed in a chador now, finishes her performance:
JASMIN Thank you very much for not laughing. Allahu Akbar. That’s ‘God is Great for the infidels in the audience. Thank you.
JASMIN removes her burqa to reveal an absurdly bushy black beard, wig, moustache and eyebrows for a moment before taking a bow and leaving the stage.
3 BACKSTAGE. COMEDY CLUB. NIGHT
JASMIN walks backstage, disappears into a dressing room.
4 DRESSING ROOM. NIGHT
JASMIN removes the beard, wig, moustache and eyebrows to reveal short blonde hair. In her early 20s, JASMIN glances apprehensively in a mirror for a moment, throws her wig, beard etc into a small backpack and picks up a crash helmet.
5 ALLEY BEHIND COMEDY CLUB. NIGHT
JASMIN appears in a doorway that opens into an alley, using her hand to cover most of her face. She peers out furtively – looking up and down the alley. It is clear from her eyes that JASMIN is half-expecting to see someone. There is no one. She steps back inside, puts on her red full-face crash helmet then walks fast a little way down the alley to her red motor scooter.
As JASMIN straddles the seat, puts a key in the ignition, something catches her attention and she turns around fearfully. She sees:
What looks like the figure of a man lurking in the shadows. Or is it her imagination?
There is panic in JASMIN’S eyes as she quickly starts the scooter, puts on the crash helmet and drives off.
6 CITY STREETS. NIGHT
As she drives her motor scooter JASMIN looks repeatedly into the rear vision mirror as if expecting that she is being followed. Her fear is palpable.
7 STREET IN INDUSTRIAL SUBURB. NIGHT
JASMIN drives into a semi-deserted street in an industrial suburb, pulls up outside an old and somewhat dilapidated warehouse and chains her motor scooter to a light pole in the street – all the while her eyes scanning the street for signs of being followed or in expectation of an attack of some kind. JASMIN takes off her crash helmet and, key in hand, prepares to open the warehouse door. To her surprise it is already open.
8 INT. WAREHOUSE. NIGHT
JASMIN walks in a little apprehensively, calls out: “Sweetheart!” There is no reply. She makes her way down the cluttered corridor of the old factory; stops at the open door of a lit room. She calls out again fearfully, “Sweetheart? There is no response. She looks around, terrified now, and then steps into the room. She stops, looks down at the floor, lets out a blood-curdling scream.
9 EXT. JASMIN’S FAMILY HOME. DAY
In bright sunlight JASMIN, 18 years old, dressed in colourful traditional mid-eastern clothes and hijab that covers, but does not totally conceal, her dark hair, makes her way from the front door of her family home carrying two large plates piled high with biscuits, cakes, jellies and other sweets. Several colourfully dressed kids run up to her, reach out to grab something sweet from the plates. JASMIN laughs, holds them out of reach, and proceeds into the street – the kids swarming behind her. The road has been blocked off and several tables set up in the middle of the road. Families sit on rugs laid out of the asphalt. The mood is celebratory. A man plays an oud, a few people dance, kids open gifts given to them by visiting relatives. We are at a suburban street party in a predominantly Muslim Australian suburb. It is the first day of Eid, at the end of Ramadan.
(NOTE: It should not be immediately apparent that the young blonde-haired woman in the opening sequence that commences in the comedy club is Jasmin. There should be a suspicion on the part of the audience that they are one and the same person but not certainty during the following Eid sequences. It will become apparent in time, as clues mount, that this sequence, (below) took place 12 months prior to the opening sequence that ends with Jasmin, her hair short and blonde now, entering the old warehouse.)
10 INT. MOSQUE. EVENING
A mosque. Evening prayers. JASMIN, conservatively dressed, wearing a hijab, prays. Her mother MYSHA, older sister KAREEM (22) and cousin PHIRDOZ (late teens) and other women, dressed in their finest Eid clothes, pray and bow their heads to Mecca in unison. This is a segregated mosque – the men sitting on the other side of a partition. All of the women wear hijabs, some are partially veiled and some fully veiled. Whilst KAREEM and PHIRDOZ are just going through the motions in their prayers, JASMIN’S devotion seems genuine.
…so begins HONOUR – yet another of my feature film screenplays in development that Ruth Harley and the Screen Australia Board refuses to allow to be read and assessed on the grounds that doing so may place members of Screen Australia staff at risk!
A brief synopsis of the film is to be found at: http://jamesricketson.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/honour.html