The Poetess

Saturday, November 17, 2018 | 7:15 PM
River Park Church Auditorium

The Poetess

"My poetry destroys and destroys seriously," says the burka-clad Saudi Arabian poetess Hissa Hilal on Abu Dhabi TV’s immensely popular Million’s Poet, the Arabic-language equivalent of Idols. With her daring and confrontational poems, she became the first female finalist of a show that attracts 70 million viewers per episode. With her critical poem about fatwas, she managed to break the taboo of discussing religious rules —and she made world headlines in the process. Supported by archive footage, she explains the history of her country, and how the liberalization of the 1960s disappeared after the 1979 seizure of the Grand Mosque by insurgents. We also learn that the veiling of one’s face had socio-cultural origins before it was appropriated and enforced by political Islam—which is now losing terrain because of women like Hilal.

Film Information

Year: 2017
Length: 68 minutes
NGO: Metro Alliance

UN Goals

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Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. ... Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.

Cast & Credits

Director: Stefanie Brockhaus, Andy Wolff


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Join the post-show conversation with local and international artists and experts.


Ghada Alatrash is a Syrian-Canadian doctoral candidate, sessional instructor and research assistant in Educational Research at the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary. Her current research speaks to the lived experience of the Syrian diaspora in Canada. She is the author of Stripped to the Bone: Portraits of Syrian Women and she has recently been invited to speak on her book as a TEDx speaker. Alatrash has an MA in English Literature from the University of Oklahoma. She has also been profiled in several media including CBC, PBS, BBC, Aljazeera,and Gulf News, among others.