Gender Me| 51mins
Director: Nefise Ozkal Lorentzen | Producer: Jorgen Lorentzen
Focus Years: 2008 | Country: Norway
Gender Me is a road-movie about Mansour's voyage into the world of Islam. It is a personal voyage in a world of taboos, full of contradictory images. He searches the question of faith and gender in Islam and he wants to collect the unusual stories of Muslim gays. Mansour is a homosexual Iranian refuge and pharmacist; he has been living in Oslo for 18 years. Now he wants to travel back to Istanbul, where he lived two years before he was granted asylum in Norway.
As the film unrolls, Mansour meets a range of complex individualsâ€”some hidden, some open. Therefore, the film language uses an experimental style, which dramatizes the dreams of the informants or the verses of Koran. It shows the ambiguity of Mansour and his inner conflict. The people, whom we meet through Mansours travel, give us images of suffering, shame, creativity and let us experience the burdens of collective ignorance. We will meet the world's first openly gay imam, who interprets the Koran through a homosexual point of view; gays abandoned by religious families; a Sufi Drag Queen; and a young filmmaker in Istanbul. Many have been rejected, and their pain is raw, yet with irony, humor, and resilience, they love, care, struggle, question and debate with a millienia-old tradition. Ultimately, they are forced to question how they can pursue truth and faith in their lives.
Throughout his youth, Mansour suffered from being and feeling different. He even thought that he was born with bad luck because he was homosexual. Even though he is a well-established young man living in Oslo, he cannot get rid of his former angst and shame. In the Koran there is a story that defines Islam as a religion of change, tolerance and love. It is exactly because of this text that Mansour's road movie first starts. Where should he travel to find the real Islam that he has been away from for many years? He finds many names, many web-addresses and many homo-intellectuals who dare to interpret the Koran from a gender perspective. He has heard a lot about bitterness! In other terms, Mansour is a dream-catcher. He is like Graham in Sex, Lies and Videotapes. He wants to collect histories of other homosexuals with an Islamic background. Everybody we meet in the film describes a dream that has related to his or her sexual choice.
The road movie continues through Mansour's existential questions: "What defines my gender? How can I live in peace with my sexual desires? How can I find the ways in which I can integrate my faith with my sexual choice?" Mansour has made a pragmatic choiceâ€”i.e. to reject questioning the issue of religion. Contrary to Mansour's choice, the Sufi drag queen he meets during his voyage to Istanbul lives with his family and works at one of the most fashionable bars as a drag artist. The drag queen considers himself to be a true and faithful Muslim. This meeting bewilders Mansour. He wants to understand the unconditional love that the drag queen has for his religion. What is the source of his devotion? How can he manage to interpret Islam? What shall Mansour say to the Sufi Draq Queen who has lived a double life and combined his Islamic path with his homosexuality? Has he really experienced unconditional love and tolerance in Islam? Mansour's goal is to show the similarities and the differences between the sufferings of Muslim and Christian homosexuals.