Methods of feature film screenwriting for the female Muslim protagonist

Tariq, A 2013, Methods of feature film screenwriting for the female Muslim protagonist, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Media and Communication, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Methods of feature film screenwriting for the female Muslim protagonist
Author(s) Tariq, A
Year 2013
Abstract This practice-led research explores screenwriting structures which allow the creation of a strong, triumphant female Muslim protagonist on screen. To achieve this goal, I employ the principles of screenwriting theorists including Syd Field, Maureen Murdock, Robert McKee, Linda Seger and Lisa Dethridge to analyse three-act screenwriting structure. My research indicates that female Muslim characters are often depicted as victims who lose or even die at the end of their stories. I examine various traditional and contemporary images of Muslim women in Hollywood and contrast them with the case-study screenplay, Erin Brockovich. I examine post-colonial theories of Edward said, Homi Bhabha, and Franz Fanon and discuss the historical representation of ‘the other’ onscreen. I relate this theory to the representation of Muslim woman in Hollywood with the help of film critic Jack G Shaheen and post-colonial feminists Mohja Kahf and Marnia Lazreg. I explore the relationship between Western audiences and culturally diverse women referring to the theory of Minha Trinh T, Chandra Talpade Mohanty and Gayatri Spivak. In conclusion, I explore how these theoretical and technical insights were useful in relation to my screenplay project Shaheen.

The project screenplay Shaheen is about a Pakistani Muslim woman who struggles against the family tradition of arranged marriage. Shaheen claims her independence by moving to a remote village to open a girl’s school, but one of her students is abducted by the village chief. When Shaheen tries to rescue her student, the village chief threatens to close the school. Shaheen eventually succeeds in her struggle to save her pupil and defeat the chief. In contrast to the often negative stereotypes of Muslim women portrayed in Hollywood, my project is focused on employing the Hollywood style three-act structure to craft a female Muslim protagonist who is strong and capable in response to cultural challenges. 
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Media and Communication
Keyword(s) screenwriting
screenplay
Three-act structure
representation of Muslim women
female Protagonist
Syd Field
Lisa Dethridge
Jack G Shaheen
Mohja Kahf
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