(San Francisco)—Shadya Zoabi is like many typical 17-year-old girls. She listens to music and hangs out with her friends. But unlike other girls, Shadya is a karate world champion, a feminist in a male dominated culture, and a Muslim Arab who is also an Israeli. This film is her story, as Shadya journeys from teenage girl to woman, from daughter to wife, and from one family to another. Depicting the universal conflict between ambition and tradition, SHADYA will have its television premiere on the Emmy Award–winning PBS series Independent Lens, hosted by Terrence Howard, on Tuesday, January 16, at 10pm (check local listings).
Shadya is lucky to have grown up with a father who wanted his daughter to be free to practice karate and develop her talent in the sport to the fullest. But in spite of her father’s support, the social pressure from her brothers and the surrounding community is difficult to overcome. In her brothers’ view, a Muslim woman has a specific path in life, and is forbidden to stray from this destiny. At the same time, Shadya is grappling with the challenges that Muslims face as citizens of Israel.
Shadya’s internal conflicts intensify when she meets the Palestinian team at an athletic competition, and when she prepares for marriage at the height of her career. SHADYA is about the coming of age of a young Muslim woman who desires to succeed on her own terms but who is still committed to life within the Muslim community. Will she succeed in balancing her ambitions after her marriage? Will she stay a world champion?
The SHADYA interactive companion website (www.pbs.org/independentlens/shadya) features detailed information on the film, including an interview with the filmmaker and links and resources pertaining to the film’s subject matter. The site also features a Talkback section for viewers to share their ideas and opinions, preview clips of the film, and more.
About the Filmmakers
Director Roy Westler is a filmmaker who has worked as a writer, editor, cinematographer, and director. His films have been aired on the Israeli History Channel, and include promotional films for newspapers and the Israeli Lottery. He recently completed a feature script, “Gold Heart,” which he plans to produce and direct. Westler has also worked as a film production teacher at two high schools in Israel.
Producer Udi Kalinsky is an independent film and television program producer, who has worked for over 20 years producing social issue and politically relevant documentaries. His award-winning international film and television productions include Shein (2000), about a bank manager turned street poet; Total Eclipse (2001), a film based on a choreographed dance by Ohad Naharin called Sabotage Baby; Tel Aviv-Remallah-Sahara (2001), an Israeli-Palestinian co-production about two girlfriends, one Israeli, one Palestinian; Intel Inside, Where?, about the charged meeting between hi-tech giant Intel and the Israeli Development Town Kiryat Gat; and The Art of Flying, about the soul-searching of the oldest fighter pilot in the Israeli Air Force. He produced three documentary series on human rights in Israel, making a real contribution to the discourse within the country. Upcoming and recent films include Judah and Mohammed, a co-production between Kalinsky and the UK’s Channel 4.
Producer Danny Hakim is not only a co-producer, with Udi Kalinsky, of SHADYA, but is the Karate coach in the film. A native of Australia, Hakim moved to Japan to study Shotokan Karate. Hakim received his 6th degree black belt and competed in numerous international Karate championships for Australia, then for Japan, winning two silver medals in the World Championships. In 2000, Hakim decided to fulfill his dream and move to Israel. In 2004, Danny founded the non-profit association Budo for Peace, which is an organization where young Israelis, Arabs and Palestinian children do martial arts together and learn about self-control, respect and harmony. In addition, Danny authored Budo’s Potential for Peace: Breaking Down Barriers in the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict, Budo Perspectives, Chapter 21. In Israel, Hakim was surprised to see so many young Israeli Arab women training in the martial arts. This realization was the seed for Hakim’s partnership with producer Udi Kalinsky, and their co-founding of the company Budoco in the production of the film SHADYA.
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