Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A Sinner in Mecca (2015)

Deeply moving meditation on life, belief and self. Yes it is about one man's making of the haj to Mecca, however it transcends one man's story to truly become something universal and greater.

The film is director Parvez Sharma's record  of his trip to Saudi Arabia  and to Mecca to make the pilgrimage that is required of all Muslims. Recording his trip on his iPhone Sharma records what he sees,what experiences and how he feels. It is a trip that we should not be able to take with him since recording is forbidden however this is a modern age and most people pay him no mind. Its is a trip that most of us will never get to take so this is as close as we will ever get.

The film came about because Sharma had a crisis of faith. Living in New York, he was not certain where he stood or how he felt as a Muslim. His feelings came from his being a gay man practicing a religion that would want to kill him for his sexual orientation. His gayness caused a rift between himself and his mother whom he abandoned when he was 21. Things came to a head after he married his boyfriend and so he took the chance to go on the trip, hoping that he would not be found out as a gay man or as a man who was condemned for his previous film JIHAD FOR LOVE.

While most certainly a film about being gay and practicing Islam at the start, the film rapidly transcends that origin and becomes something greater. This is not really about being gay and going on a journey, instead its about the spiritual quest and sense of self that we all take in one form or another. This is a film about trying to find a place where we all belong.  Tied into that is a look at the modern world and belief- as Sharma says incredulously, a thousand feet from the Kaaba, the holiest of holies, is a Starbucks in an air conditioned uber mall.  What does this say about spirituality in the modern world?

I absolutely love this film. Its a glorious piece of filmmaking that blends the emotion of a spiritual quest with dozens of soul searching questions about what you believe, why you believe it and the state of the world that you live in.

I desperately need to see this film again several more times before I can adequately write on it. Watching it the first time through I stopped taking notes and just let the film wash over me. I got lost in the film and found my self dragged along on the director's journey. Ideas and questions flashed through my head that I never noted because I was too busy traveling along.

I'm blown away by this film. rarely does a film come along that makes you feel things, lifts your spirit and change the way you think as this one does.

The film will open in New York on September 4 and Los Angeles on September 11, before expanding to additional markets and VOD

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