What a coincidence -- I was just thinking that the world needs a documentary about gay Muslims, and up pops the news from Variety that First Run Features has acquired US theatrical and DVD rights to A Jihad for Love, evidently the first doc on the subject.
If I'd been paying attention, I'd have noticed that the film, directed by Parvez Sharma, debuted at TIFF back in September. Reviews so far have commented on the "impressive" bravery of the interview subjects (Dennis Harvey, Variety) and the way that "dignity and despair are woven tightly together" (Jeremy Kay, The Guardian). It took Sharma six years to complete the film; the original inspiration came from his experiences after he moved to the United States in late 2000. As he told The Guardian: "Those forces came together and I felt a tremendous sense of responsibility to start a discussion of Islam that hadn't been heard before ... This was very necessary for my being a Muslim and a gay man." The doc was produced by Sharma and Sandi Dubowski, who directed Trembling Before G-d, a revealing look at the lives of gay Orthodox Jews.
A Jihad for Love will play in the Panorama section at the Berlin film festival next month. First Run plans a theatrical release in May, starting in New York City, and has already booked an engagement with the IFC Center. Variety points out that the company has experience with both gay and religious-themed films, counting For the Bible Tells Me So and Before Stonewall among its releases. A Jihad for Love certainly sounds fascinating, and may raise a few eyebrows when it opens. The film's official site has much more information, including a link to Sharma's blog.