On Nov. 1, Princess Cinemas and the KW Unity Mosque hosted an evening with renowned filmmaker Tarek Mounib and a screening of A Free Trip to Egypt.
KW Unity Mosque is a welcoming safe space for Muslims and allies who seek an inclusive, gender equal and LGBTQ+ affirming experience in faith and community.
Ticket sales and donations from this sold-out event will benefit the Sanctuary Refugee Health Centre. This film follows the journey of an unlikely group of travelers to the Middle East and find themselves transformed by the power of human connection.
The screening was in the spirit of bringing people together. Mounib wants the film to spark mindful conversation about issues that refugees face. He wants non-refugees to think about how to support new community members.
“You see, my goal was not to change the world, but to conduct a social experiment to answer a question that I think a lot of people share. And that question is: ‘Could human connection overcome our differences if we connected on a truly human level, or is there no hope, due to polarization?’,” Mounib said.
“I felt that to get out of the paralysis I was feeling, I had to explore this question,” he said.
KW Unity Mosque has a similar goal to Mounib. They provide a welcoming safe space for Muslims and non-Muslims who seek an inclusive space to pray as a community.
When the 2016 election was happening, Mounib was disturbed with the news coming out of that country. That is when he began working on his film in an attempt to create more human connections.
“It seemed that the country was becoming filled with vitriol and hatred. I felt a fear of Americans begin to well up inside of me,” Mounib said.
“But instead of moving away from them, I decided to move towards the people I feared, and offer them something kind, which was a free trip to Egypt!,” he said.
After the film, Mounib enthusiastically engaged with the audience during the screening. He posed the question: “can two diverse cultures come together harmoniously through the transforming power of human connection?”.
This was a question the audience kept in mind long after the movie ended.
Mounib grew up in Halifax, where he experienced his share of racism and Islamophobia.
“[When I was 6,] our family home was vandalized, and spray painted with a racist word. My parents, sister and I were shocked, and I remember for the first time realizing that as a Muslim of Arab decent, I was ‘different’,” Mounib said.
During the first screening of the film, Mounib was able to see the spark of human connection in his audience.
“Their reaction to the film, after it was screened, was the most moving experience for me,” he said.
“If the film has reached one person’s heart, then the journey to make it was worthwhile. To date, we estimate that 50,000 people have seen Free Trip to Egypt, and we hope that it will reach millions of people in time!,” Mounib said.
Mounib said he was losing faith in humanity, a faith that was rekindled as he saw the reactions to his film.
“I really believe that there is more kindness than hatred and bigotry in our world…But it was only by connecting with them that I could discover this basic human truth: most people are kind-hearted,” he said.