“The war didn’t leave any choice for me… I had to come here with my daughter.”
Those are the first words of “Dalya’s Other Country,” a documentary airing on PBS’ series “POV,” which chronicles Rudayna Aksh and her teen daughter Dalya Zeno who in 2012 fled Aleppo and resettled to Los Angeles, moving in with Rudayna’s adult son, Mustafa Zeno. The film chronicles Dalya, a self-described teen feminist, adjusting to life in Los Angeles as the only Muslim in an all-girl Catholic school, and showing how both daughter and mother adapt their faith and cultural traditions to their new home in America.
The film, which originally aired on June 26th but is now available online, was directed by Julia Meltzer who says she hopes that viewers “come away understanding something of how Dalya and Rudayna see the world as Muslim women in America at this moment. Many of their traditions that connect to their religion are passed down, are part of their family life, and I think it is good to demystify them.”
Mustafa Zeno says that the documentary depicts a more accurate portrayal of Muslim women. “It is important for me that people understand Muslim women are full beings with agency, not just victims of an oppressive system — the way I see Muslim women portrayed in all kinds of different media. When something happened to my mother, she felt was oppressive she didn’t accept it. It’s the same with my sister. She adapted to her new situation and found her own equilibrium.”