Exploration of identity set within American Muslim punk scene
Eyad Zahra’s adaptation of Michael Muhammad Knight’s novel set in the American Muslim punk scene is in the tradition of early 80s music scene movies such as Penelope Spheeris’ Surburbia and Edo Bertoglio’s Downtown 81. First generation Pakistani student Yusef (Bobby Naderi) moves into a commune in Buffalo, New York where he’s introduced to the Islamic music scene and an array of characters trying to marry their religious beliefs to a non-conformist music lifestyle.
Patently raw in its aesthetic, the film’s outsider characters are extremes, from Yusef’s naïve mummy’s boy, to a burka-wearing feminist lesbian and a fundamentalist who refuses to sit in the same room as a woman. Initially such subversive and provocative characters come across as too crude to be credible. Yet the success of Zahra’s film is to take these base elements and channel them into a film that explores identity crisis without slipping into the graveyard genre of cross-culture romance that were a fad in British film for more than a decade (Love + Hate, East is East).
The strongest parts of this film are those dealing with the differing interpretation of the Koran. Ultimately, though, it’s a music film and the concert and battle of the bands provides a necessary genre ending in a film that dares to be a little different.
Selected release from Fri 12 Aug.