"Once again I’m in the closet as a gay man and as a film maker."
The gripping new documentary by Parvez Sharma (A Jihad for Love) follows his devotional pilgrim to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, as he explores his complicated relationship with Islam and whether someone like him can be a ‘good’ Muslim? Sharma takes the audience into uncharted scenes of sacred mosques and ceremonial sacrifices, defying bans on photography, and intertwines his personal monologues to begin his personal essay on the inner struggles of a gay Muslim against the backdrop of religious extremism. A Sunni who grew up with Sufi mysticism, he provides a historical lesson through a series of animations to reveal a religion that was born of peace but "hijacked by a minority". The audience begin to understand that the pilgrim is no longer one of being a ‘good’ Muslim but his reclamation of his faith in dealing with the complexities of contemporary Islam.
Sharma deftly contrasts images of his wedding to his husband in New York and their life together to audio recordings of harrowing stories of his chat room friend witnessing a beheading of a gay Muslim, to underscore the world in which Sharma films his pilgrim. His recount of his mother, who never accepted his homosexuality, and her shame of him which he attributes to her death from cancer, provides an intimate viewing of a man drenched in guilt and self-doubt.
A winner of the jury award for the best doco at Outfest LA Film Festival, A Sinner in Mecca is the result of one man’s profound journey of reconciling his faith to his identity.
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