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Encounters Documentary Festival: Imam and I

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Growing up in London the son of a Libyan father and South African mother, filmmaker Khalid Shamis finds little to help him in his search for identity, and so returns to Cape Town on the trail of his famous grandfather, the influential 1960s Imam Abdullah Haron. What he finds is a mixed bag of cultural and political in-fighting that has gone on for decades. He uncovers a man who was both a divisive and unifying force in the Muslim politics of the time, championing the youth, but alienating many in the Muslim Judicial Council with his strong stance against Apartheid. After his controversial death in custody came the predictable battle for his legacy, various factions claiming ownership of his achievements. As Shamis tries to distinguish fact from fiction, truth from legend and contrivance from reality a picture emerges of two complex characters, compelling in their contradictions. Interestingly, the film uses illustration and animation as well as interview to tell the story of a man and a time that shaped – and shattered – his family.

Courtesy of the Director

Shamis is a Guest of the Encounters Documentary Festival and will attend screenings in Cape Town (Saturday 18 at 6pm) and Johannesburg (Tuesday 21 at 8pm) for a Q&A.

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