Film Screening & Discussion at The Montauk Library

Photos by Mara Ahmed
DATE: Sunday, March 3, 2024
TIME: 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm
CATEGORY: Film Screening & Discussion
TITLE: RETURN TO SENDER: Women of Color in Colonial Postcards & The Politics of Representation
SPEAKER: Mara Ahmed, filmmaker & interdisciplinary artist
          RETURN TO SENDER: Women of Color in Colonial Postcards & the Politics of Representation is a short experimental film (20 min.) directed and produced by Mara Ahmed. It pushes the documentary medium in unexpected ways by introducing three South Asian American women who recreate images of women who appeared in old British colonial postcards. Dressed in lavish traditional attire and jewelry and shot in a darkened studio, the women recreate the constrained poses of women of the past in order to subvert the colonial male gaze, thereby acquiring autonomy. This symbolic ‘returning’ of the Orientalist gaze is layered with observations about Eurocentric beauty standards, and exotic stereotyping of South Asian women in media and culture. In creating this film, Mara Ahmed hopes to facilitate conversations about erasure and the politics of representation. A short multimedia presentation precedes a screening of the film followed by a discussion and Q & A.
          Best known for her non-linear multimedia work, interdisciplinary artist Mara Ahmed produces documentaries, soundscapes, and artwork that trespass political borders and challenge colonial logics.  A resident of Long Island, Mara was born in Lahore, Pakistan and educated in Belgium, Pakistan and the USA. Her art reflects these displacements and multiplicities.
          Her artwork has been exhibited at galleries in New York and California. She was awarded a NYSCA grant for her film and art project, Return to Sender: Women of Color in Colonial Postcards & the Politics of Representation which premiered at the Cinema Arts Centre on Oct 1, 2023 in conjunction with its companion art exhibition at The Huntington Historical Society’s History and Decorative Arts Museum, in Huntington. For more information see
          Mara Ahmed directed and produced a number of films, including The Muslims I Know (2008), Pakistan One on One (2011), and A Thin Wall (2015), that were broadcast on PBS and screened at various international film festivals. She is currently working on The Injured Body, a film about racism in America that focuses on the voices of women of color.
          Mara Ahmed earned an MBA and a Master’s in Economics and worked in finance until 2004, when she decided to focus on art and film. She studied art at Nazareth College and film at the Visual Studies Workshop and the Rochester Institute of Technology.