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July 29th, 2009
Contestant No. 2
Filmmaker's Notes

by Ibtisam Mara’ana

I embarked on this film out of curiosity about whether traditional societies and beauty pageants could mix. I chose to document the Arab beauty pageant because it attracts Arab girls of all religions – Muslim, Christian, and Druze – from towns and villages in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.

At first, I was nervous that I wouldn’t know how to communicate with the young girls. What would we talk about? Would they fit the universal stereotype that beauty queens are just pretty faces who are best kept quiet? My greatest fear was that I wouldn’t be able to develop a meaningful conversation with these contestants, who, I imagined, came to fulfill a naive dream or to sign a $10,000 modeling contract.

One of the events I remember most was on the day of the Arab beauty queen ceremony in Nazareth. I arrived two hours before the girls to shoot the ceremony. At 1 p.m. the girls were supposed to have a final rehearsal. At 2 p.m. they began getting ready for the ceremony. That’s when the rumors started circulating that Duah/Angelina wasn’t coming.

I realized I had to leave the ceremony immediately and drive two hours from Nazareth to her village to see what was going on with her and her family. When I got there I discovered that she had run off to Tel Aviv and wouldn’t take part in the ceremony because she had decided to compete in the Miss Israeli pageant.

Later on I drove back to Nazareth to continue shooting the final ceremony of the Arab beauty pageant. When it ended I drove to Tel Aviv, only to find that Angelina had caught the train back to her village. It was a day filled with fear alongside a glittery ceremony. I was concerned about Angelina, but I realized how much strength she had. It was then that I understood that she was not just a stereotypical beauty queen, but a young woman chasing hidden dreams.

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  • Chip Henderson

    How is she doing now?

  • Carlos Gomez

    How can this young lady be helped to make her dreams come true? Can top model agencies be contacted with her portfolio?

  • Laurel

    I saw this film in L.A.’s Israel Film Festival last month. I was drawn into it so deeply and was shattered at how her community strongarmed her into her inevitable decision. I truly want to know how she’s doing now. Although I work in an aspect of this field (not beauty pageants but commercials, whose audition process is oftentimes a ‘beauty competition’), I’m genuinely concerned about how she’s doing and want to know. Will someone please email me?

  • Danae Roberts

    It is terribly sad that her dream of being in and winning the Miss Israeli Pageant was mot fulfilled. If Duah/Angelina still wants to be a model I wonder what the Druze community or the Sheiks would do if a top modeling agency wanted for a model.

  • DS

    How can Duah learn self-respect through respect for her elders in a Modernistic Westernized culture? How can she resist being brainwashed by media hype to aspire to mimick “idols”, and resist disrespecting her parents, disobeying them, running away and doing things the selfish Western “my way”? How can youth be lead to dream of helping others instead of wallowing in selfishness, dreams really worth dreaming? Where are youth who dream such dreams and where are those who want to help Them? And why doesn’t your film ask and comment on those questions? By not doing so, it is more mere Western propaganda toward false egalitarianism, and truncated individualistic “rights” at every and all expense to any sense of Community. Modern Westernization glorifies human passions (vices) and as such is psychological sickness in need of Spiritual Healing, not reiteration.

  • Tom Leach

    DS is the prime example of what is wrong with his or her part of the world. It’s why that area as well as many other regions of the world have always been in conflict with their neighbors and or the rest of the world. For them their is no room for individual or community growth… But man as all things in nature must grow (evolve) to fulfill their destiny. A seed cannot grow to it’s fruitful destiny without growth, it just rots and eventually dies off. And some must adapt to changing environments or face extinction. And that will eventually happen to all those in places that do not embrace change… Let the ways of the past give way to the knowledge of the future… And may contestant # 2 sooner rather than later be allowed to embrace her self chosen future; experiencing all the joy of growth and change… I truly hope someone out there can help her realize her dreams…

  • Sony

    What an eye-opening and emotional documentary. I was touched by this film and felt deeply for Duah. She exudes so many characteristices inlcuding strength, courage and passion. I, like many others would like to know Duah’s current situation. I applaud you Ms. Mara’ana. Bravo and thank you for educationg us on women’s issues and social issues abroad and thank you for introducing me to Duah.

  • Kyle

    I would also really like to know how she is doing. I just saw the show last night and it was very good, but I am concerned for her future and safety.

  • mike

    i too am very interested in a follow up on her. Also her families relationship with her community.And her dads future.She is a very beautiful girl inside and out. I’m sure she will succeed regardless the path she chooses.

  • James L

    i just saw it..what a wonderful but sad story. i hope she makes it in modeling and her dream comes true. also what sentence did her father get ?

  • karlito

    Been an american druze ,this story made me very sad .
    A young druze girl with a bright future get pressured to quit and forget about her dream and her future just to please society and the elders.If its possible would like to know what became of her dreams or whats left of it.

  • Susan Kerins

    Please tell us how she is now. Will she ever be able to get out of there? And did her father ever get out or jail for this? Please update us on Anjelina (duah) please. And if you have contact with her please let her know she is very much a wonderful woman and no beauty contestant here in america could or has been as strong as her in that kind of situation. We are pulling for her here in Alaska USA! Please update us on her well being Thankyou

  • Trish

    I would like to say how much I appreciate the comments of DS #5 and Tom Leach #6. Thank you for your very thoughtful input.

  • CS Schaaf

    As a mom of two beautiful young women I was particularly touched by Duah’s story.I told my girls that they could become whatever they wanted & to watch Duah’s story play out & watch her sweet face with those slow tears run down her cheek was truly heartbreaking.And the anguish her Mom experienced was personal- her own tunnel-focused fear for her daughter’s life was a reality I will never know. Thank you for sharing their story & I would be most anxious to know how or if they have gotten past their recent experience. What unique & courageous women-

  • Mark

    Duha has great parents..when her mother said “every Druze girl would follow her example” should Duha be murdered.I’m compelled to say “Madam your family honor is stainless and pure. And though he is wrong in taking money Marwan did “Man Up”for his little girl against the entire Druze community.

    Duha, America loves you, will protect you, and see you prosper. here’s the first protection I’ll offer.Stay away from the Donald Trumps of America. Go see Oprah,Tyra, and Michelle Obama.

    “Shout out”! to Ibtisam Mara’ana, you have set your hand to good work.You have access to two of the most powerful women in the world. (listed above)Now join the ranks of The First Century of The Women.

  • Ruth

    I want to comment on what DS said about how Duah would likely be unable to resist being brainwashed by media hype and the improbability of avoiding selfishness, etc. I wonder – when does ‘force’ achieve true conversion? It is only by choice that one can begin to desire the good. Because Duah was backed into a corner – Duah is still ‘Angelina’ in her heart because she was forced into compliance. In addition, I wonder when does death trump a swimsuit? When is it okay to murder someone because they are choosing to wear a bathing suit? Even if it is against Duah’s religion, at what point is ‘the power to choose’ more evil than murder itself? (Do I agree that women should stay modestly covered? That beauty pageants, media, and the ‘me first’ mentality are threatening to destroy people and cultures as a whole? YES. I think women (and men) ought to respect their bodies (in every sense of the word), that youth and adults alike should be so concerned with the welfare of others around them they can think of little else but serving all they see. And yet, even though I believe all this, and much more, so passionately it could nearly consume me – I surrender to the simple acknowledgement that choice will show us what we are truly made of in the end. It is our choices that define us, that show what we think about…that show who we truly are and that will ultimately empower us in the end.

  • dan

    It is the state of fear created by the religions to control people that we see here in all its spendor, monotheism religions controlled by men to dominate women to have all power over them. Women of the christian world have fought terribly to overcome it and women of the arab world need to fight as hard to gain equality or better respect because Islam is the most extremist religion against women. Just look in Saudi Arabia how they treat women, basically they consider them as a race of slaves. As an exemple, men can use women as a cushion to and sit on them if they want to. Unfortunately, the laws in these countries do no protect women or women rights. There is little hope until there is more mass movements of women and men to militate against this domination and try to overcome this state of fear. I will not talk about the villainousnesses of the human body being preached by the religions. The human body is the most beautiful and the most perfect creation on this planet and I will not talk about the beauty of the woman body. Why would someone defend someone else to show off her or his human body? What is wrong with the human body to these religious people? I will not talk about the stupidity of the religions, the biggest cause of war and killing on this planet… The story in this film is outstanding, this girl is outstanding but she has no chance unless she moves out of there to pursue her dream. It tooks over 100 years to women of america and europe to gain equality and men to accept it because we are not a religiously dominated society. Lets hope the women of the arab world will follow the same path. They are intelligent and beautiful.

  • Dom

    I find it funny how people against religion don’t get it:

    1. These family honor practices, and even the moderate dress requirements pre-date the establishment of any currently practiced religions in these areas. It’s cultural.

    2. That they come off just as crazy as fundamentalist as those in her community turning up their nose at her family.

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