A Sinner in Mecca

  • Parvez Sharma
  • United States
  • 2015
  • 79 min
  • Dutch Premiere
  • Best of Fests
Filmmaker Parvez Sharma is both a devout Muslim and gay. To fulfill his religious duty, he goes on a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia: one of the most repressive countries in the world, where homosexuals are whipped and can be sentenced to death. “The soul of Islam lives in Saudi Arabia,” Sharma says. “An Islam of fear.” It’s a pretty nerve-racking destination for the filmmaker, to say the least. What’s more, Sharma just can’t help filming, even though it’s strictly prohibited in the kingdom. The result is a unique report on his visit to the holiest city for Muslims and the bizarre world of pilgrimage. There’s a huge shopping mall right next to the Great Mosque and the Kaaba. The old holy sites have either been replaced by new buildings or – if not to the liking of the orthodox Saudis – destroyed. Believers seeking a mystical experience find a religious industry of mythical proportions. It’s both disconcerting and completely overwhelming. Sharma’s journey is also one of introspection: a long-postponed examination of his relationship with his mother in India, who gave him his faith but disapproved of his sexuality. As a devout believer, Sharma struggles with the question of whether he can be both gay and a good Muslim. Can Islam accept him? He searches for an answer while carrying out the seven rituals of the pilgrimage.


  • 79 min
  • color
  • DCP
  • Spoken languages: English
Parvez Sharma
Parvez Sharma for The Film Sales Company
Executive producer
Andrew Herwitz for The Film Sales Company
Husain Akbar
Alison Amron

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