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Now Wajahat Ali Abbasi, a Pakistani director and writer who moved to New York in the early 2000s, wants to tell their story in a movie, SIN, for the production of which he is seeking funds worldwide. Abbasi so far, in South Asia, has produced television shows and short films and has published four books in Urdu. In the U.S., he has produced, directed and wrote two short films, Saturday Post and He Loves Me Not, as he continues to write weekly columns in Urdu newspapers from around the world. Il grande colibrì interviewed him.
How did you reconstruct the story of the two boys?
A lot of extensive research went into this subject. It took us almost 7 years to complete the script of the movie and with very limited information available online we didn’t get much help from Internet. Through support of Iranian filmmakers and writers, we interviewed dozens of families in Iran who lost their sons and brothers because they were killed for the sole "crime" of being gay. Other than victim’s families, we also interviewed many gay people living in Iran, documenting their fears, feeling, and sentiments.
It's a big responsibility...
The movie is based on a very sensitive issue, and we took great efforts to make sure we do complete justice to the subject with our script. SIN will be voice of many who were never capable of speaking earlier. We hope our audience believes we did justice to the subject when they'll finally watch SIN next year.
Why are you so interested in this story?
Equal rights are an extremely important global issue. LGBT people exist in every society since centuries, but most societies don’t recognize them or believe they don't deserve equal rights.
What effect would you like to achieve with SIN?
Recently Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan said being gay is ugly and proper education should be given to fix this problem. We need to change the mindset of this world about LGBT and this film is going to be a stepping stone in doing that.
To produce the movie, you want to raise $ 100,000 through the funding platform Kickstarter: is this kind of production your own choice or does any movie producer have shown interest in SIN?
SIN is getting a lot of interest all over the world, we are receiving many emails, every day inquiring about the film. SIN is an independent film and $ 100,000 is a minimum we need to produce this film. Kickstarter is where our campaign is active right now. We chose this platform because this way we can build our audience too and any one who wants to be part of this revolution can contribute to this film in 3 easy steps by going to our campaign page.
You come from Pakistan, a country that is culturally quite different from Iran, although many Westerners imagine all Muslim-majority countries as an undifferentiated whole. Speaking of homophobia, which are, in your opinion, the main similarities and differences between the Iranian culture and the Pakistani culture?
Pakistan and Iran are two different worlds, you are right, but culturally they have many similarities, for example in fashion, food, festivals and obviously religion. One of the biggest similarities is that in Pakistan gay people are not recognized: there's a huge LGBT population in Pakistan, but no one talks about it. I know Iran and Pakistan very closely and I would say Pakistan is still liberal in many ways compared to Iran, i have never heard of any one being brutally killed publicly in Pakistan because they are gay.
Homophobia in some cultures is sometimes used to represent some nations and religions as barbaric and inferior. How do you suggest to balance the uncompromising demand for human rights and the rejection of any kind of racism?
Being gay is an extremely sensitive topic in many religions, and with movies like SIN handling this kind of subject you can easily look and sound very biased, and against certain beliefs. We did many revisions of our script and many experienced writers read our script before completing it. We are sure we are telling a story, not forcing a certain sentiment on our audience. With a subject like this, it's best to leave few things to the audience, people are smart, you can show them the facts and they can make their own mind up.
At the end of the day we are all humans, we all smile if we are happy and cry when we are hurt… and having the right to be happy is a very basic human right, which everyone should have. In many ways this is what my movie demands.
Thank you, Wajahat.
Thank you ... but could I add some few word?
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the team of Il grande colibrì for doing a great job and thank you for supporting my movie. Thanks to the collaboration of Il grande colibrì, now SIN will be known in other parts of the world and I hope that readers of Il grande colibrì will be able to watch SIN in a special screening with some cast and crew members. I'd like to remind your readers that if you like to support SIN, please go to our website, I hope to see you all in front of the screen next year!
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