Banaz, A Love Story

My Song

This song of mine will wind its music around you, my child, like the fond arms of love.
This song of mine will touch your forehead like a kiss of blessing.
When you are alone it will sit by your side and whisper in your ear, when you are in the crowd it will fence you about with aloofness.
My song will be like a pair of wings to your dreams, it will transport your heart to the verge of the unknown.
It will be like the faithful star overhead when dark night is over your road.
My song will sit in the pupils of your eyes and will carry your sight into the heart of things.
And when my voice is silent in death, my song will speak in your living heart.

– Rabindranath Tagore

I have had the extraordinary experience over the last year or so to be included in a small way in the coming together of a film, Banaz, A Love Story, that will premiere tonight, September 29th, at the Raindance Film festival in London. Today is Michaelmas, a day in the Christian tradition that is dedicated to courage and fighting the good fight, maybe the impossible fight.  It is the day for telling the story of St George and the Dragon, St Michael and the Dragon. It is the day for celebrating the inner fire of the heart engulfed in flaming courage.  The trees flame with their true orange red and gold and it is wise to suck that in through your eyes to keep for warmth during winter bleakness.

It is fitting to see this night then be the opening night for a film that bears witness to tragedy, commitment and fierce love. Deeyah, the musician and activist who founded Ava, the social profit outfit I wrote about the other day, and Darin Prindle have worked on this film for almost 4 years, largely funding it themselves and following a story that kept growing and changing.

It is the story of Banaz Mahmod, a young woman from Mitcham, south of London, who was murdered with malice, with pain, with gruesome torment, in the name of ‘honor’.  Her body was hidden and her family refused to even acknowledge that she was missing.  They did not hold a funeral.  The idea was to dishonor her, to wipe her out, body, soul and memory.

But, in this most unusual circumstance, people came forward to remember her, to honor her.  First, by seeking justice and then by seeking her — her voice, her life, her memory.  In the end, as debate went on about titling the film, Banaz, A Love Story was ultimately chosen to name the story of a disgusting murder, because a person is not their death, a person is not what other people do, a person is her own voice and the love that inspires.

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