Imagine your child being bullied for not having a familiar accent. It happens routinely to those who stutter, which is the act of talking with continued involuntary repetition of sounds, especially initial consonants.
It is an obstacle that has come to light. The region in general, and the UAE in particular, has woken up to this phenomenon, courtesy an initiative that was launched in 2015.
Farah Al Qaissieh, founder of the Stutter UAE initiative, and co-directors Khadijah Kudsi and Samia Ali Buraleh are taking things to the next level. They are the co-producers who have pushed the initiative further by introducing the documentary film, “Just Another Accent.”
The documentary is set to show this year at the Cannes Film Festival.
Documentary capturing challenges
The documentary constitutes following Al Qaissieh for almost six months capturing the ups and downs of her life and work, with the motive of, enhancing the initiative and everything that comes with it; such as, activities and events.
The challenges that come with stuttering include “not being able to speak to others about the obstacle, being very shy and not wanting to show the stutter, and becoming isolated,” said Kudsi.
According to Al Qaissieh, “…the world views stuttering as a speech impediment, but to us in the initiative it’s not like that, it is our accent. God gave us this unique special accent and it should be something we should embrace and be proud of rather than something we should be ashamed off.”
Power of filmmaking
This is a message that Al Qaissieh and the filmmakers hope to bring about through the power of documentaries. The purpose of providing an impactful film goes beyond reconfirming the initiative.
“What the film brought to the people for me is a reconfirmation with what I am doing with the initiative and the importance it has in the community, because the initiative is purely social and community focused. It is for the people who stutter, their families, their friends and their communities around them,” said Al Qaissieh.
For many filmmakers including Kudsi and Buraleh, creating a visual documentary film is one of the most effective ways to highlight humanitarian elements.
“One of the purposes of the documentary is to highlight the initiative, the challenges people like Farah face as stutterers and the need to establish therapy centers in the UAE that can help stutterers cope,” said Kudsi.
According to Buraleh, “…there is no official therapy center or clinic. There are only individual speech therapists who help like freelancers. They formulate one on one sessions or workshops in coffee shops sometimes.”
“Farah has a full plan ahead. She wants to get to the point of having her own center. With the support needed from the community, at least one clinic can be built for everyone to come for the workshops,” noted Buraleh.
Embracing the accent
The therapy center will help stutterers embrace this quality as an accent and not as an issue.
“Stuttering is not an issue. It is an accent and we deal with language accents, so why can’t we do the same thing with stuttering,” added Buraleh.
The documentary has impacted the filmmakers themselves, and hopefully will impact the audience.
Kudsi emphasized, “It changed me as a human being and as a film maker. It made me feel that if you have a fear [obstacle] just go with it… Face your fear, if you have something go ahead with it and say I have it and help others that have the fear.”
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