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The first trailer for The Wedding, a film from the first-ever LGBTQ-inclusive Arab film company ArabQ, is out, and The Hollywood Reporter has an exclusive first look.
The movie, from Egyptian filmmaker Sam Abbas, will star Abbas as Rami, a young Muslim-American man who must worry about his upcoming marriage to American Sara (Nikohl Boosheri) while trying to also live a hidden life as his true self, a homosexual man. Co-stars include Hend Ayoub, James Penfold and Harry Aspinwall.
This is the first film under ArabQ, which launched at the 2018 Berlin Film Festival. The film is set to premiere this November, with invite-only screenings scheduled in the Middle East.
“We struggled in finding a way to play it in theaters for a while until we found a way to do private invite-only screenings all across the Middle East,” Abbas told The Hollywood Reporter. “We recently did a private work-in-progress screening in Egypt where we had a great crowd and amazing feedback. It was nice to see such a response to an art film, as I thought it would play well primarily in Europe. You could almost think of this system as a modern-day speakeasy, but instead of serving alcoholic beverages, we are serving LGBTQ art films.”
Homosexuality and homosexual acts are viewed as illegal in the majority of Middle East nations. Turkey, Iraq and Israel are some of the few nations that have legalized it, although some still have major restrictions on showing one’s sexual orientation in public. In Egypt, Abbas’ home country, the vast majority still believe homosexuality should not be accepted. According to a poll by the Pew Research Center in 2013, 95 percent of Egyptians surveyed said they believe that homosexuality should not be part of society.
Abbas previously told THR that he realizes the difficulty of getting Middle Eastern people out to see The Wedding, although it’s a battle he’s willing to fight.
“Just a couple days ago, Egyptian police arrested a gay concert organizer and charged him with ‘debauchery.’ So even if we were to play the films in a couple of theaters, most people interested in going wouldn’t [out of fear],” he said.
The film was created with the help of Survivant Productions, Polyglot Pictures and the Alexandria Film Institute. Executive producers include Suki Sandhu, a diversity specialist from London and founder/CEO of two organizations, Audeliss and INvolve, that work to promote multiple diversity agendas.
The Wedding is also looking to add a limited U.S. release to the schedule, close to the film’s international November release date.
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