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For a gay filmmaker, filming in Saudi Arabia presents two serious challenges: filming is forbidden in the country and homosexuality is punishable by death. For filmmaker Parvez Sharma, however, these were risks he had to assume as he embarked on his Hajj pilgrimage, a journey considered the greatest accomplishment and aspiration within Islam, his religion. On his journey Parvez aims to look beyond 21st-century Islam’s crises of religious extremism, commercialism and sectarian battles. He brings back the story of the religion like it has never been told before, having endured the biggest jihad there is: the struggle with the self.

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A Sinner in Mecca movie full length review - Not as Substantive as I would have liked

It's pretty obvious from the low IMDb ranking overall that zealotry will be a dominating force in the discussion over this film, which is a shame.

Objectively it's not as substantive a movie as I would've liked. It swings pretty haphazardly from personal home movies, to attempts at poetic visual memoir, to the hajj itself (by far the most interesting bits), all shot on an iPhone, which while necessary for the undercover filmmaking in the Kingdom, doesn't add a very strong visual presence to the other 70% of the flick. There's some very brief exploration of how Wahhabist ideas came to gain such a strong foothold across much of the faith but that takes a backseat to Thanksgiving dinner footage and other humanizing, but pretty boring filler. All and all it doesn't deserve the extremely low ranking it's sporting now, simply as an act of personal filmmaking it has some value, but it's also not really that strong a work considering how interesting the subject matter is.

One thing is certain, we need more love in the world.