EXCLUSIVE ENGAGEMENT AT NEW YORK'S IFC CENTER.
"POWERFUL!" - Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
"HEARTFELT!" - Nathan Lee, The New York Times
"PROVOCATIVE!" - Jim Ridley, Village Voice
"Lifts the veil of secrecy...frankly brave!" - National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation
"CRITIC'S PICK! Brave...Eye-opening!" - Sara Cardace, New York Magazine
"REVEALING and moving!" - Wall Street Journal
"Passionate, essential...both haunting and inspiring!" - S. James Snyder, New York Sun
Fourteen centuries after the revelation of the holy Qur'an to the Prophet Muhammad, Islam today is the world's second largest and fastest growing religion. Muslim gay filmmaker Parvez Sharma travels the many worlds of this dynamic faith, discovering the stories of its most unlikely storytellers: lesbian and gay Muslims.
Produced by Sandi DuBowski (Trembling Before G-d) and Sharma, A Jihad for Love was filmed in 12 countries and 9 languages and comes from the heart of Islam. Looking beyond a hostile and war-torn present, it reclaims the Islamic concept of a greater Jihad, whose true meaning is akin to 'an inner struggle' or 'to strive in the path of God' - allowing its remarkable subjects to move beyond the narrow concept of Jihad as holy war.
81 minutes, Digital/Video, Color, English, Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Hindi, Turkish & French w/English subtitles
The DC premiere is September 5, mark your calendars. I want to see you all there, friends.
The people in Parvez Sharma’s new film have a lot to teach us about love. Their pursuit of it has brought them into conflict with their countries, families and even themselves. Such is the quandary of being both homosexual and Muslim, a combination so taboo that very little has even been documented on the subject. Indian Muslim director Sharma bravely enters these territories by illuminating multiple stories as diverse as the many worlds of Islam. Often he filmed in secret when obtaining government permission was not an option.
In the Western media, the concept of jihad is often narrowly equated with “holy war.” However, the literal Arabic meaning is “struggle” or “to strive in the path of God.” We meet several characters in this film engaged in their personal jihads for love. The journey takes us from the Middle East to Europe to South Asia and beyond. In South Africa, the imam Muhsin Hendricks faces condemnation when he publicly comes out of the closet. In Egypt, where homosexuality is outlawed, a young man named Mazen has to flee after being imprisoned and tortured following the well-publicized 2001 raid on Cairo’s “Queen Boat.” Once in Paris, he befriends lesbians from other Muslim countries, and their bonds help to supplant the families left behind.
Where there is struggle, there is also hope. We find a Muslim mother in Turkey accepting her grown daughter’s lesbian partner. And four gay Iranian men seek asylum in Canada, a quest that delivers one of the film’s most emotional moments.
As a Muslim, Sharma makes the film from within the faith, depicting Islam with the same respect the film’s subjects show for it. Producer Sandi DuBowski previously explored similar issues within the Orthodox Jewish community in his acclaimed 2001 documentary, Trembling Before G-d.
For non-Muslims, A Jihad for Love offers a unique look into the complexities of one of the world’s fastest-growing religions. The film works to bridge religious divides and to portray the humanity of its characters. No matter what you believe or where you come from, this film will remind you that we are all engaged in the same struggle – for love.