Received awards for “challenging conservative Islam”
The movie has received two awards now. I just came home from London, where it was honoured as best documentary. At the Crystal Palace International Film Festival, A balloon to Allah got a very, very good reception. My movies challenge the conservative forces of Islam, and in the viewing room there were good discussions. A balloon to Allah is scheduled to participate in eleven international film festivals. After screening in three countries it has already received awards twice. Most important is the so-called Ambassador Awards from Rhode Island.
What? Rhode Island, movie director Nefise Özkal Lorentzen?
Yes, the film festival there is important; it nominates to the Oscar Awards. As a child, in Istanbul, I used to send balloon letters to Allah. The idea behind this documentary is to send a new balloon, now to change women’s role in Muslim culture. The movie premiered in Oslo in March, and was shown on NRK2 on the Women’s Day. After six reruns, it has been viewed 350,000 times in Norway.
A balloon to Allah is part of a trilogy, where the first topic was homosexuality. How do Muslim audiences react?
I have not heard anything negative. The goal isn’t to blacken Islam, but to show a picture different of that we read about in newspapers and see on television. Many Muslim men and women want reforms — this has become a large movement. Neither do I make film for Muslims with mud in their heads. They get enough publicity. It’s the liberals we don’t know enough about. Together with Jørgen Lorentzen, the male scientist, I am currently working on the last part of the trilogy. It might be the trickiest.
The theme is Islam and masculinity. Who the main enemy is soon became clear: it’s the patriarchy, synonymous with conservative men, and an un-touched area for movie makers. I oppose Sharia law. The instigation to Jihad, holy war, I interpret philosophically: Jihad is the war on your own ego!
Author: Sturle Scholz Nærø
Originally published in Aftenposten on the 4th of October 2011, in the culture section on page 6. This translation has been done without consultation with the author, and he can therefore not be held accountable for any possible translation errors that might or might not have occurred in this transcription.