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indieWIRE’s Project of the Day: Feminist Islamic Documentary “The Light In Her Eyes”

indieWIRE’s Project of the Day: Feminist Islamic Documentary "The Light In Her Eyes"

Each week, we usually gather up four or five projects in progress to feature in a single column. Now it's going to be a daily feature, so we can give the spotlight to a single project each day.

Is this a movie you'd want to see? Tell us in the comments.

"The Light In Her Eyes"

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

Elevator Pitch: Houda al-Habash, a conservative Muslim preacher, founded a Qur’an school for girls in Damascus, Syria when she was just 17 years old. Every summer, her female 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 prioritizing 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 erupted, the film is an exclusive look at a social movement thriving in a country controlled by a repressive regime.

Production team:
Producers: Julia Meltzer and Laura Nix
Directors: Julia Meltzer and Laura Nix
Editor: Monique Zavistovski and Nathaniel Fregoso
Cinematography: Julia Meltzer and Anne Etheridge

About the production:
"We find that the media discusses the Islamic revival a great deal, but it mostly focuses on the extremist and militant branch, and ignores the moderates. Most importantly, no one is addressing the enormous role that women are playing in contributing to the growth of moderate Islam and what impact this might have on the region in the future. In addition to the Arab Spring, it’s one of the most important social movements in the region, and is largely an untold story. Julia met Houda when she was a Fulbright scholar in Damascus in 2005, and it took a couple years for Houda to allow us to shoot in the mosque. We shot in the summers from 2008-2010." — Laura Nix

Current status:
The film is currently in post-production and they are aiming to finish the film by the end of 2011, with a festival release in 2012.

Check out the film's website here.

For more information and to support the film:
Kickstarter page.

Be sure to check out our curated Kickstarter page for more information on projects we think you should check out.

This Article is related to: Filmmaker Toolkit and tagged


Carol Williams

Courageous project. Timely and insightful. A wonderful message to unite women everywhere.


I am extremely excited to see this movie!


I saw a screening of this film and it is amazing.

Marie-Helene Carleton

A holistic analysis with a really compelling main character. I want to learn more about this intriguing main character. She is redefining a lot of things


You have my vote! A wonderful film.


A fine film.


This looks like a ‘don’t miss’ film coming at an amazing time. I’m looking forward to seeing it!

Laura Gabbert

Check out the trailer — such compelling characters and material. I’m really looking forward to seeing the completed film.


These guys got amazing access to Syria – a country that no one can even get into now . Their kickstarter page has a trailer for the film where you can see some footage – it’s fascinating . Really looking forward to the finished film.

Deborah Felmeth

This fascinating topic and provocative study place the film, A Light In Her Eyes, in a great position to illuminate the all-too-often murky waters of Islam & women’s roles in the Arabic world. Wow, no small feat. Kudos to Julia and to Laura for their vision and their competence in bringing this subject into public view. I can’t wait to see it.


This film examines religion and gender in a way that does not fit the myopic narratives that circulate about Islam and will give audiences outside of the middle east insight into what has been called the largest social movement in that part of the world in 30 years. Very much looking forward to the completion and circulation of this film!


Women all over the world should see this film. So much equality yet to be gained. But seeing them embrace their faith and retain their identity — wonderful!

Elisabeth Subrin

This is such an important, critical project – can’t wait to see it!

Fahad Nisar Rana

This is very impressive. The project is themed right and aims to highlight a major issue in the Arab world today. I would like to wish Light In Her Eyes all the best.
I would love to see the film.

Best Regards,

C. Chan

looks great- we need more films like this that offer an in depth and unbiased look into the lives of women in this part of the world. I look forward to seeing it when it’s done.

Yasmeen Karam

This films looks amazing! It seems to be highlighting a topic that so many never really pay a second glance too. This story needs to be told.

Grace Lee

This looks awesome. Can’t wait to see it as the story is in the able hands of Julia and Laura!

Jennifer Arnold

This looks amazing. When is it done?

Anne Walsh

I’m really excited by the trailer, and can’t wait to see the finished film. Julia and Laura both have impeccable credentials and have done great work in the past. Yay!

Chris Wells

Cannot wait to see this! Big fan of the film-makers, and the trailer looks great.


This film is a rare window into an amazing private spiritual world of women taking the reins of their faith and their lives to make girls strong and smart. Can’t wait to see the finished film!

Abe Rybeck

I love the way this film seems to blow apart simplistic assumptions about Women, Islam and the potential for creative progress in the Middle East!


Looking forward to seeing this film!

Brian Davis

Finally a movie that goes beyond the portrayal of women as victim’s of Islam, and shows the power woman can gain within any culture.

Barbara Osborn

if you haven’t seen the trailer on this, you should! Who says feminism and islam can’t mix?

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