The day had started with a meeting with one of the leaders I admire-Urvashi Vaid, whose fierce intelligence had given my ideas, wings-when I was younger.
Later today- A film professor from NYU was impressed with the films 'cinematic vocabulary' and a young Iranian man said that the film was 'your very own Hajj and spiritual journey, Parvez'. An older Indian gentleman said that the film was 'beautiful and engaging and not preaching to the choir'. A South Asian academic was impressed with the discussions women were having in the film. Yet another South Asian organizer felt it did not have enough womens representation.
The discussions in the cinema are rich and are also complex, layered and enthralling. One day I hope to have them reproduced (we are documenting as many as we can and I just wish todays had been taped!).
Here is another email.
" Hi Parvez,
Congrats again on such a moving and honest film. The documentary far surpassed my expectations and I have told some of my close Muslim friends (who are still in the closet) to come out and watch this film for sure, I want them to accept and embrace their religion and sexuality whole heartedly instead of submitting to societal pressures...
But then this one-I just wish he sees the film to understand the title and indeed, Islam...
I just saw the trailer for Jihad for Love, and I'm excited to see the film after hearing much about it the last few months. I'm puzzled, however, why there are no screenings set for Detroit when it has the largest Arab population in the United States??
Please bring it here!
"Just saw your movie today...Congratulations. It both excited and saddened me that it was the first substantial footage I've seen of life of anyone other than tv spokespeople of Muslim nations.Keep doing your important work. Coming out is powerful. Look at what we've gained here in just 40 years. It all came from personal honesty and dignity. H"
R writes from Canada...
Your work is SO inspiring, thank you for opening up such uncharted territory, thank g-d you have the freedom to do so!
Will or when will your film come to Canada, particularly west coast, Vancouver?
S writes from South Africa...
"was good to meet you in november last year in johannesburg; hope i'll see you again soon.
congratulations on your remarkable work and good luck with the ongoing struggles!
best wishes from south africa..."
Q writes from Mexico...
"Hi Parvez, I watched your film in Mexico, a little whil ago...I was amazed by how you managed to capture all of those feelings in one film. Congratulations! Keep up the work! "
TFF from Malaysia says...
" ur film will not be shown in malaysia so how can I get hold of it? Thanks"
And finally the seventeen year old gay Muslim man I have been corresponding with in Europe (he was locked up by his parents) says
I have unfortunately not had the opportunity to watch your film yet. I am truly eager to see it. I am still here but I left home two months ago and now I live with an old friend. I received a lot of help from the social services and I have contacted my parents. They have calmed down because they think I am "cured" if you know what I mean.
Thank you for asking"
And a review in the Turkish 'Hayat' is here- "Aşk için cihad"
A few closing thoughts: Clearly this "Jihad" is global and audiences here are part of a larger movement and hunger. While I am amazed at the discussions we are having in the cinema, my heart is also filled with grief and anger at all the time that has been lost, the families that have been broken, the love that has not been given or recieved. I feel that the Obamaspeak of the 'Fierce Urgency of Now", inherited from Dr. King does apply to this 'Jihad", in ways that we are only beginning to imagine.