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Qalbox Short Films: Open Your Heart To Another World

by Helmy Sa'at

Several entertaining, perceptive and thought-provoking short films are available to watch on Qalbox. We are currently running a limited time promo (more than 60% OFF) for you to enjoy unlimited access to Qalbox and Muslim Pro ad-free! Claim it now!

As we commute to work or school in the morning, typically we would indulge in some sort of entertainment to chase away the morning blues overlapping with sleepiness. This in addition to crafting plans to unwind after a long day. Something to look forward to. Between the start of most mornings and end of each day, most would choose to stream content as a form of escapism, even choosing mindless enjoyment at times. No judgment here. It is our prerogative.

Yet, our enjoyment does not have to result in absolute sense of hollowness once it ends. It is an opportunity to not only unwind but also plug in the gaps of our knowledge in a passive fashion, or otherwise, through enjoyable watching of streaming content.

Open Your Heart In Under 30 Minutes

With Qalbox, choose any short film ranging from three minutes to 23 minutes! It is certainly not daunting compared to a film or series. Discover unsettling hidden realities that would paint a totally different picture of Muslim communities across the world. Perhaps, something that you might not be familiar with, nevertheless worth exploring every second. Realistically (and reductively!), three minutes is of no consequence compared to more than 60 minutes.

A still from Zaina 46, which is available to stream on Qalbox.

In Zaina 46, Abdel an undocumented migrant worker living and working in a cafe in France, in 2006, seems to present the all-too-familiar narrative one is used to reading in the newspapers. Thus, Abdel’s heartache of not having seen his wife and family in five years is something that is not too far removed from reality for us, the audience. In 22 minutes, we are made aware of the physical distance that has begun to tear apart Abdel’s emotional bandwidth and mental attachments to his home that he attempts to grapple with in solitary by making connections, both hardware and heartware, through Skype.

Nothing could fill that emptiness, a void lay waste. As Abdel unwittingly accepts the painful reality of his circumstances by telling his wife the following: “No tears, they are pointless.”

In flipping the script about undocumented migrants crossing man-made borders, Tunisia 2045 is a poignant narrative set in a future dystopia. This time, it involves a French father and daughter, again, in desperate attempts to make connections with the female, Tunisian border staff.

A still from Tunisia 2045, which is available to stream on Qalbox.

“What would it cost you to put the right stamp on? For you, it is nothing, but for us it means three months of survival.”

An arresting and haunting emotional appeal that is captured in just under three minutes of exchange. Do we begin to lose a pinch of our humanity while defending what is ours? What are we protecting, really?

Women’s issues are also front and centre in explorations and depictions. In Extra Safe, a child’s curiosity sparked a fierce and loud contestation of viewpoints that quickly descended into chaos fairly quickly, within just nine minutes, in a neighbourhood pharmacy. The innocent inquiry in question:

“What is that in her hands?”

A still from Extra Safe, which is available to stream on Qalbox.

It is easy to paint conversations on issues such as intimacy, contraceptions and women’s freedom to choose that are largely deemed as taboo by certain groups, into large strokes of black and white. Yet, it does not help in moving the conversation forward. It is not merely about modernity versus traditionalism whereby the former is almost always negatively associated with sexual freedom, unchecked liberty and promiscuity. More importantly, the need to have ongoing conversations on women’s empowerment based on informed and responsible thoughts and words towards building understanding by fighting ignorance. A snapshot captured in Extra Safe is a good start for discussions.

A still from Eyebrows, which is available to stream on Qalbox.

Another must-watch is Eyebrows, a tensed exchange between a couple of burqa-clad friends on several matters pertaining life and faith. Gender identity tied to patriarchy, at times more than religion. A simple act of eating ice-cream that many of us take for granted is not the same for Aiesha and Sally. Sally reprimands her friend, which the audience could interpret in many ways; has she overstepped her boundary as a friend and Muslim in an attempt to impose the practice of (unjust and overly harsh) public self-censorship that put other Muslim women in mental distress, or just simply being a good friend?

“How were you going to lick the cone in public?”

“I would have slipped it under my veil.”

“I am talking about the act itself. May God protect you from lustfulness.”

“But I love cones … I like their smell.”

At every juncture of life, one is always at the crossroads. To make a choice. What would Aiesha choose after expressing her inner anguish and turmoil to Sally in the 23 minutes that they are in a shopping mall?

“I have been told to not think for the past 29 years.”

Would her small expression of protest snowball into something significant?

Explore other short films on Qalbox.

Do not miss the opportunity to watch other short films such as This Is My Night (16 minutes) and Habib (22 minutes).

No One Right Answer To Life

No one right answer to life, whether real or imagined. And, if any of these short films have made you uncomfortable in any fashion then it is only fair to engage in nuanced conversations about the issues at hand.

Aiesha’s words should serve as a great reminder to all faithfuls: “We have to calculate everything. Because the way to heaven is tough.”

These are short films that you would return to watch multiple times on different occasions and stages of your life. Why? They are akin to gems being polished. You would continue to discover more nuances and insights based on your active, or unconscious peeling of the issues presented through compact dialogues and visuals.

And, my dear reader, now what is your choice?