When Norwegian-Turkish filmmaker Nefise Özkal Lorentzen was a child, she used to send balloon letters to Allah. Now she has decided to send a new balloon, to challenge the role of women in the Muslim culture.
Following her grandmother’s “Sufi” path, she embarks on a quest to discover the essence of Islam. The film moves between her actual journey and her dreams. She experiences the diversity of Cairo, Istanbul and Oslo by having tea with Egyptian feminist Nawal El Saadawi, conversing with 90-year-old author Gamal Al-Banna about his life, and meeting a young Islamic extremist.
As she strolls through the maze of doors, it dawns on her that maybe Islam is not the only source of the problem – that there may be a link between the three Abrahamic religions and the oppression of women.
World Film Awards, Indonesia – Best Director
Film Festival for Spirituality, Religion & Visionary, Indonesia – Short Documentary Award of Excellence international
International Film Festival for Peace, Inspiration & Equality, Indonesia – Jury Award
International Film Festival for Peace, Inspiration & Equality, Indonesia – Best Documentary
Rhode Island Film Festival, USA – Ambassador Award
Crystal Palace Film Festival, UK – Best Documentary
International Association of Women in Radio and TV, Malaysia – AWRT Honorable Mention
‘Manislam: Masculinity and Islam’
This film examines the burdens of manhood within Islamic cultures. It brings us a new interpretation of David vs. Goliath. The main characters, bravely and frankly, share deeply personal memories and experiences in their effort to highlight and question the role of men in contemporary Islam.
Why does a man in Kuwait inspired by the 99 names of Allah and the Quranic stories create a comics and cartoon series about super heroes called The 99? Why does a man in Bangladesh travel from one village to another, teaching the community how to play a board game? Why does a man in Indonesia encourage other men to wear mini skirts in a demonstration? They all have the same goal. They want to change the dark side of masculinity in their cultures by playing games. They all want to reform Islam. They are the muslim Davids against Goliath.
How did it start?
After 9/11, Nefise Özkal Lorentzen, a Turkish-Norwegian filmmaker, decided to make a trilogy about progressive Islam. Her intention was not to defend or explain Islam, but rather to show the different sub-cultures within and various interpretations of Islam.
Impact Documentary Film Festival, USA – Winner Award of Merit: Impact Docs Award
Mexico Film Festival, Mexico – Winner of Silver Palm Award
World Film Awards, Indonesia – Winner of Golden Award
Elojocojo Film Festival, Spain – Special Mention
Gender was the key concept in Nefise’s quest into the mystery of Islam. The first documentary of the trilogy, ‘Gender Me’, was about Islam and homosexuality, released in 2008.
We follow Nefise’s journey as she explores Muslim masculinity and attempts to undress Muslim men from their patriarchal heritage, examining the burdens of manhood in Islamic cultures. She delves into discussions on the freedom of men, democracy and equality, violence and oppression, emotionality and male sexuality.