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Acting on Faith: Women’s New Religious Activism in America is a documentary film that offers an intimate look at the lives and work of three American women – one Buddhist, one Hindu, and one Muslim – for whom faith, activism, and identity are deeply intertwined.

In Acting on Faith, we see these women at work, with their families, and at play. We hear them reflect on their experiences, and tell us in their own voices what kinds of identities they seek to build – for themselves and for their communities.

Their stories help us to consider the compatibility of feminism and religion, and the tension of being a voice of critique without alienating one’s community or inviting outside prejudice. Their strategies are simple yet surprising:

  • Shamita Das Dasgupta uses strong female figures in Hindu myth to provide encouragement to battered women to leave abusive husbands
  • Laila Al-Marayati illustrates how the Muslim principle of ‘zakat’ served as the inspiration for the first free clinic in South Central Los Angeles
  • Mushim Patricia Ikeda integrates the uniquely relational experiences of women into the American Buddhist practice

This film offers insight into, and encourages dialogue on, the powerful streams of thought and action that are being created by women activists of different religious and cultural traditions here in the United States. It is a face-to-face encounter with the women who are pioneering this new religious activism. (Total running time: 42 minutes.)


Between the Lines: Asian American Women’s Poetry

A film by Yunah Hong
US, 2001, 60 minutes, Color, VHS/DVD
BETWEEN THE LINES offers rare interviews with over 15 major Asian-Pacific American women poets, including Patricia Y. Ikeda (Mushim).  Organized in interwoven sections such as Immigration, Language, Family, Memory, and Spirituality, it is a sophisticated merging of Asian-American history and identity with the questions of performance, voice, and image.