“Muslim” film festival – The latest Halal entertainment

[This is a note that was sent to a certain film festival after waiting over a week and a half for a reply. “Professionalism” isn’t just delivering a venue and having raving fans on Instagram and appearing successful. It’s everything else. This includes customer relationship management with replies to messages of genuine quality and concern.]

I attended your festival with my children.

I was impressed by the talent and level of storytelling for some of the films. But I also have some important feedback:

I have never ever seen any “Muslim” advertised event in my life (given a major metropolis, typical and prominent sponsors backed, and automatically feeling [orthodox Sunni] “Islamic”) where profanity went hand-in-hand. Your opening film used the word “a$$” in the sub-titles. There were one or two more words along these lines. Then, one of the men in the film went on to unzip his pants and urinate on one of the prisoners later. (And this is family friendly?? WOW!) Your second film, used the F-word multiple times in the opening scene and later on in the film. Your last film used the word “$hit” in more than a few places.

This was a complete LET DOWN because a day or two before the event, I specifically asked you on Instagram if the event was family friendly, and the reply was that it was.

Yet it wasn’t. We’ve lost our morals everywhere else, but now here too? Is this what halal entertainment now is?

I specifically brought along my children, the youngest being 9, to this “family-friendly” event. They read those sub-titles and heard some of the profanity. It’s quite obvious your team is very liberal and casual about what you show while tacking on the “Muslim” label. The very least you should have done was declare that there will be profanity to your “Muslim” audience. This reflects poorly on your quality honestly of delivery. Did you not realize families would come? OR are your “Muslim” morals more relaxed that you don’t care about anyone else? BUT because this is for the community whose support you desperately seek, you must be obligated to tell it like it is, that there is profanity, or whatever else, and then let the community decide.

I actually had the volume on mute for some scenes and my finger was undoubtedly on the volume dial throughout the entire time I was there just in case someone would randomly swear. It killed the experience honestly.

Lastly, I spoke to one of the curators there, and complained about this. When I told him, he said it was “on the filmmakers” as to why they used profanity. REALLY?! He further went on to say, because of Covid, they were lucky they received any submissions. I was so shocked by that answer. I told him that it’s not on the filmmakers, it’s on the curators for selecting these films despite what time we are in!

When you place your morals on the community and label it “Muslim”, it comes with some expectation and relation to an Islamic adherence. Don’t get me wrong, we NEED Muslim storytellers for sure AND we need to explore complex and taboo subjects as well. BUT please don’t disguise this as halal entertainment. There’s a BIG difference between a Muslim making a film and calling it a “Muslim” film festival.