Due for release in November, the film follows Rami (played by Abbas), a New York-based Muslim man as he prepares for his wedding to Sara (Nikohl Boosheri). Secretly, however, Rami is struggling to reconcile his queer identity with his religious faith. See the trailer above for a sneak peek at the film.
Abbas, who is based in New York, featured a similarly queer narrative in his 2016 short “Time to Come.” The warm critical and audience response that film received helped to convince him to explore those themes further in “The Wedding.”
“This film is very close to me as it speaks to a part of my life,” he told HuffPost. “Cultural and religious upbringings impact day-to-day lives regardless of a person’s self-decided point of view.”
“The Wedding” will be Abbas’ first film released under his production company, ArabQ, which launched in February at the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival. All of the company’s projects have a “link to the Middle Eastern experience” and will require a “self-identified queer, gay, lesbian, bisexual and/or transgender director and/or lead producer,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The movie will be released in what producers have described as a “modern-day speakeasy” format across the Middle East. Given that LGBTQ people have extremely limited rights throughout the region, screenings of the film will be private and invite-only. Plans for a limited U.S. release are also underway.
“People don’t realize the severity of being a member of the LGBTQ community in some parts of the Middle East,” Abbas explained. “With that said, there is still a community, and they are very active in the most secret way.”
Above all, he hopes viewers come away from “The Wedding” with a better understanding of the danger posed by “repression and alienation.”
“If you’re living in a country that is LGBTQ-friendly, then this film will hopefully open your eyes to being truthful to yourself and allow you to be truthful to the people around you ― regardless of the ‘morals’ you were taught growing up,” he said. “If you’re living in a place that is not LGBTQ-friendly, then hopefully it will show you that you are not alone.”