Friday, March 8, 2019

Movie with Abe: Time for Ilhan

Time for Ilhan
Directed by Norah Shapiro
Released on DVD and VOD March 8, 2019

It’s a transformative era in politics in America, and so much of what’s going on in the country is permeating the world of film and television. Portraits of leaders like Donald Trump are frequently offered both in disturbing dramas and comical farces, and the real-life people who are making waves in both liberal and conservative circles are getting their own spotlights. A story of perseverance and incredible achievement despite humble beginnings and almost insurmountable obstacles is exactly what most audiences need now, and Ilhan Omar is a fantastic example.

Somali-born Omar, who came to the United States with her father and siblings after temporarily living in a refugee camp in Kenya, made history as one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress last year. Her desire to represent something to those around her is explored in detail, putting special emphasis on accurately conveying what the people in her district actually want as she runs against a Somali-born man and a Democratic incumbent who has been serving for decades and, in her opinion, runs each cycle on keeping up the status quo, something that Omar believes must not be allowed to continue.

This film is a fitting companion piece to “Knock Down the House,” which chronicles four progressive women seeking office, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has already made a name for herself as an outspoken liberal intent on making change right away. Omar has been in the news recently as a result of her continued controversial comments about American support for Israel, something this film doesn’t address at all despite coming from a Jewish director, though it does touch upon the ugly tendency of some to target her religion, which has also recently flared up thanks to an anti-Muslim ad prominently displayed with her face on it in West Virginia.

Ultimately, what this film shows is that Omar is intent on being a game-changer, and she celebrates the milestones that she achieves as demonstrative of the true democracy that America is supposed to be and rarely seems like anymore today. It paints a human portrait that, more than anything, makes Omar seem like a completely normal person who happens to be more passionate, driven, and articulate than most. Those seeking a greater understanding of her political views will only find a resiliency here that helps to explain why she says what she does and, more importantly, why she refuses to back down when someone tries to tell her that she doesn’t have a voice.


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