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A Jihad for Love

Potent subject matter overshadowed by special effects
By NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  June 25, 2008
1.5 1.5 Stars
ajihadforloveinside.jpg
A Jihad for Love

Despite fraught and potent subject matter — gay and lesbian Muslims trying to reconcile their religious beliefs with their sexuality — Parvez Sharma’s documentary, more than five years in the making and spanning four continents, suffers from the overuse of special effects and superfluous filming techniques. To some extent, that was unavoidable: homosexuality is illegal and highly punishable in the Muslim world (being stoned to death is a possibility; one interviewee shows photographs of his back after he’d been lashed 100 times), and the faces of many of Sharma’s subjects are digitally blurred to conceal their identity. The result, though, diffuses the power of their stories and their struggle. The isolation, hurt, longing, anger, and fear come through, if mutedly, and so does the guilt and confusion. Maryam, a Muslim lesbian living in Paris, says, “I want to be punished,” and she prays to God to remove her desire and turn it to love. English + Hindi + Urdu + Persian + French | 82 minutes | Coolidge Corner

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