Muslim love, Morning Glory, and other events

Journalism school really makes me want to spend all my spare time reading and watching films. There is a difference in watching a documentary, for example, and then watching it through the lens of how it was made.

Friday, Carmel, who is the Muslim voice of reason at Busted Halo, and I went to see a film called A Jihad for Love, a documentary on gay Muslims. The filmmaker spent five and a half years on the film, traveling to 12 countries to get a wide range of stories. One lesbian Muslim he filmed took him two years to have her open up on camera. When the question was asked of the director, “What made you do this film?” he replied, “Well, I’m gay and I’m Muslim.”

In class, we are assigned to make two-minute video stories. That can be overwhelming enough. To see what this director, and other filmmakers, can accomplish – and the issues they can bring to light – leaves me in awe of what a good journalist can do. It could even change a religious landscape, one that has imprisoned, shunned or even murdered a homosexual in some communities, just a tiny bit. Jihad means struggle, and the word is just so appropriate in so many ways.

When someone decides to do journalism, it usually isn’t for the money, the easy workload or the stability. Morning Glory, the new movie with Rachel McAdams, is a perfect example of this. She wanted the job that pays little, works her hard and makes her unable to date or have a social life. She was the perfect example of a girl who lost sleep and looked a mess, but did it all for the adrenaline rush of working in a newsroom.

Afterwards, I think we (Carmel, Annie and crew from school) all felt pretty motivated to do our thing. Watching others do theirs, whether in a fictional chick flick or real-life documentary, made me go back to my stories and think how I can make them better and stronger. How can I stop whining and start typing until I bleed (Hemingway)?

Film has a way to move people, open our often closed minds – just as other works of arts or religious experiences. Next on my list: Howl and Trembling before G-d.

Which films have inspired you?