The nomination is notable because the majority of Rakim’s lyrics relate to his identity as a Muslim, which has gone on to influence other contemporary Muslim rappers.
Uyghur Genocide Documentary “All Static & Noise” Gets U.S. Premiere
Drawing from firsthand accounts, "All Static & Noise" portrays the harsh realities faced by the Uyghur people, including imprisonment, torture and separation from loved ones under state-sponsored Chinese persecution.
The award-winning documentary "All Static & Noise" (2023) had its U.S. premiere at the Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival in Washington D.C. earlier this month, shedding light on the Uyghur genocide in northwestern China.
There are about 12 million Uyghurs — most of them Muslim — living in Xinjiang, making up less than half of the province’s population. The Uyghurs speak their own language and see themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations. China has been accused of taking action to dilute, diminish and discriminate against the Uyghur population. Over the last several decades, there has been a large migration of Han Chinese people (China’s ethnic majority) into Xinjiang, which is thought to have been organized by the Chinese government. China has also been accused of targeting Muslim religious figures, banning Islamic religious practices in the region, and destroying mosques and tombs.
Drawing from firsthand accounts, "All Static & Noise" portrays the harsh realities faced by the Uyghur people, including imprisonment, torture, rape and separation from loved ones under state-sponsored Chinese persecution. Utilizing animation, satellite photos, news footage and phone videos, the documentary reveals China's extensive network of internment camps in Xinjiang, where an estimated 1.8 million Uyghurs and Kazakhs have been imprisoned. This constitutes what the U.S. labels as genocide.
Six years in the making, the film is based on 300 hours of interviews with exiled Uyghurs, sharing personal stories of suffering and loss from Turkey, the U.S., Norway, Kazakhstan and elsewhere. Director David Novack aims to elevate global discourse on state power–induced suffering and hold nations accountable for their actions.
The documentary’s title comes from a Chinese Communist Party official’s comment made to students at Xinjiang University in 2017 — that all “static” and “noise” would be eliminated under Beijing’s goal of winning the “people’s war on terror.” Since 2017, China has been vocally intent on stopping what it labels terrorism and religious extremism, focusing this intention on the Uyghur people. Under this guise, the Chinese government has felt empowered to attempt to wipe out the Uyghurs’ culture, language and Muslim religion.
Despite China denying allegations of genocide, the documentary features Uyghurs sharing their traumatic experiences, including torture and forced separations from family.
The film follows two main characters: Jewher Ilham, the daughter of imprisoned Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti, and Abduweli Ayup, who was imprisoned and tortured for teaching the Uyghur language. Jewher Ilham's advocacy grew from a personal attempt to contact her imprisoned father to a campaign raising awareness about the broader Uyghur struggle. Ayup, now in Norway, maintains a database of detained Uyghurs and continues to teach the Uyghur language to young people.
“I’m not just teaching Uyghur,” Ayup says in the film. “I’m creating their Uyghurness.”
Despite the risks of speaking out, the subjects of the film expressed a compelling need to share their experiences. The documentary combines close-up interviews with footage from detention camps and powerful animations, offering a multifaceted portrayal of the Uyghur crisis. The overall message of "All Static & Noise" underscores the importance of individuals speaking out against injustice and the unforeseen power of their voices.