Thursday evening was dismal, weather wise, but I decided to make the crosstown trek over to First Unitarian Society to see a new film, “Time for Ilhan“.  I knew no more about the film than the text of an e-mail from a mailing list a day or so earlier; Rep. Omar has been in the news lately, and it seemed a good use of time.

It was far more than a good use of time.  Along with 100 or so others, we were treated to a very well made and timely film about running for political office, introduced by the filmmaker herself, Norah Shapiro, the publisher of Minnesota Women’s Press, Mikki Morrisette, and a most impressive lady activist from the Minneapolis Somali community.

film producer Norah Shapiro (center) discusses Time for Ilhan before the showing on March 14. At right is Mikki Morrissette, publisher of Minnesota Women’s Press

Cong. Omar has, of course, been very much a part of recent news.  I don’t live in or even near her district, which is more or less the University of Minnesota area, so had no particular reason to get to know her at the time she first ran for state legislature in 2016.

The 89 minute film is only about the 2016 election, but this is precisely what gives it more of a personal impact.  It is about Ilhan’s run for office against a 43 year incumbent, Phyllis Kahn, and a male Somali political activist, Mohamud Noor.  Imdb and Rotten Tomatoes.  A Hollywood Reporter review is here.  The film is an intensely personal look at the potential and the problems of candidacy for someone who doesn’t precisely match the perceptions of what an acceptable candidate should be, in contemporary societal terms.

Judging by the tsunami of non-conventional successful candidates in 2018 elections,  Ilhan was, without knowing it, at the beginning of a welcome wave.

“screen shot” at showing of Time for ilhan, March 14, 2019. Dick Bernard

Of course, the topic du jour  came up.  Filmmaker Norah Shapiro, a Jew, brought it up her self.  The film had already been completed when the firestorm erupted recently in Washington and elsewhere.  I thought Shapiro handled the topic very well, briefly and succinctly and adult.  Nothing more needs to be said.  All of us in the room got it, I think.  It was a particular honor to be able to actually see the filmmaker in person.

This is a time of intense change in the American political landscape, and I for one welcome it, with all of the potential for mistakes of one sort or another when new players arrive on the scene.  The rules are changing, and one wonders about the endurance of the new players; and the ability of the old players to change….

The film is, in film terms, just beginning its life.  It should be very broadly watched and discussed by anyone who is interested in changing the American political landscape.  Rep. Omar had the courage and spirit of youth to take on what was a daunting issue.  She will succeed.


Related Post, Ilhan Omar, here.  (At the time I compiled this, beginning March 6, I had no knowledge about the film described above)

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