Squash player Maria Toorpakai in a scene from the documentary film “Girl Unbound,” to be shown at KPU’s Surrey campus on Friday, Jan. 26 as a KDocs kickoff event.

Surrey screening of ‘Girl Unbound’ doc film looks at misogyny in world of Islamic sport

Sports activist/writer Shireen Ahmed to speak at KDocs fest kickoff event Jan. 26

SURREY — A documentary about misogyny in the world of Islamic sport is featured in a kickoff event for Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s documentary film festival, called KDocs.

The compelling movie Girl Unbound, about a girl’s desire to play championship-level squash in the Taliban-controlled area of Waziristan, stars determined athlete Maria Toorpakai.

“I want to tell girls that fear is taught,” she says in the film. “That you are born free and you are born brave. I want to show them that this is what you are worthy of.”

In Waziristan, Toorpakai defies those who denounce women in sports as un-Islamic by disguising herself as a boy, so she can play sports freely.

“But when she becomes a rising star, her true identity is revealed, bringing constant death threats on her and her family. Undeterred, they continue to rebel for their freedom,” reads a summary of the movie at imdb.com.



Director Erin Heidenreich’s 76-minute doc, released in 2016, will be shown at KPU’s Surrey campus on Friday, Jan. 26, starting at 4:30 p.m., in room #128 in the Fir building, 12666 72nd Ave. The screening of Girl Unbound is free to attend and open to the public, but registration is requested by emailing girlunbound@kpu.ca.

The event will include a keynote address by Shireen Ahmed, a sports activist, writer, athlete and advocate for Muslim women in sports. The screening will be followed by a question-and-answer session and panel discussion. Light refreshments will be served. Visit kdocsff.com/upcoming-events for more details.

“Documentary film has this incredible power to move people, not only emotionally, but to action in addressing social injustice,” stated Janice Morris, KDocs organizer and English instructor at KPU.

“I think there’s no better time to watch and discuss the misogyny that women, and, in particular Muslim women, experience in sports than right now. I keep remembering something Oprah said at the Golden Globes, that for girls a ‘new day is on the horizon!’ The world is changing, and women are the forefront of that change.”

The event in Surrey on Friday takes place three weeks before the three-day KDocs festival, which runs from Feb. 15 to 18 at Vancity Theatre in Vancouver. Movies on the fest calendar include The Caretakers, How to Stop a Pipeline, To the Ends of the Earth, Modified, Solitary, Death by Design, Vancouver: No Fixed Address, Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS, Shadow World and other titles.

The festival, led by “learners and educators from all of KPU’s communities,” aims to contribute to “KPU’s engagement of various and varied communities, through documentary screenings and community dialogue, in critical thinking and understanding about ourselves, our communities, and our world.”


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