Profane

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“This is one of the most heretical and daring visions of sexuality ever filmed, transgressive in a way comparable to how Last Tango in Paris was 40 years ago and Shortbus five years ago. Iraqi-American filmmaker Usama Alshaibi probes the psyche and mileu of Muna, a Muslim dominatrix for whom extreme kink and piety are blended seamlessly into her life. Manal Kara gives what is simply one of the most courageous and sexually penetrating performances ever filmed. It’s on a par with the sexual breakthrough performances of the iconic films of Nagisa Oshima (In the Realm of the Senses, Taboo). Moreover, erotic guilt-driven fantasies of the American soldier comprise an added fascinating layer to this magnificent work. Arguably the best movie ever to be set in Chicago.” – Lavender Magazine

Like a bargain-basement version of Gaspar Noé’s Enter the Void, this Chicago-shot feature by Usama Alshaibi (Nice Bombs) uses a panoply of shock tactics—rapid editing, blurry superimpositions, drug use, and S-M—to evoke nauseous fascination with the sexual underworld. And like Noé, Alshaibi seems as curious about religious transcendence as degradation. The heroine, a Jordanian immigrant, works contentedly as a dominatrix but wants to reconnect with her Muslim roots; scenes of her lurid career alternate with a sweet subplot in which she befriends a religiously devout Middle Eastern cabdriver. Though certainly not for the squeamish, the movie is a striking story of life in the Arab diaspora, aided rather than undermined by its occasional narrative incoherence.” — Chicago Reader

A deeply felt journey into psychosexual horror“-Time Out Boston

“Profane is an extraordinary visionary work from an accomplished filmmaker who is clearly now at the top of his game.” -BadLit.com

Torn between ecstasy and submission, Muna takes an unorthodox path to enlightenment, one that Profane dramatizes with documentary methods and psychedelic imagery. Alshaibi demonstrates that true reverence sometimes requires transgression.” – The Boston Phoenix

muna_demon

Written and Directed by Usama Alshaibi

Starring Manal Kara, Molly Plunk, Dejan Mircea

Produced by Kristie Alshaibi & Usama Alshaibi

An Artvamp Production (2011; HD video; color; 78:00)

Purchase Profane on DVD (click here)

“When in a time of spiritual crisis, people may not be at their most rational. We meet Muna in the midst of just such a situation. Muna lives in Chicago and works as a dominatrix in self-imposed exile from her conservative family in the Middle East. What Muna is searching for is her “jinn,” the Islamic equivalent of a demon. Equal parts good and evil, a jinn is created from smokeless fire and resides in all of us according to the Quran. Muna is essentially seeking out demonic possession.

We stay with Muna throughout her pro-domme sessions, her tenuous friendship with a cabdriver named Ali, who attempts to reconnect her to the culture with which she has lost touch, and her libertine friend Mary, who brings Muna’s rebellious nature to the surface. We follow her through a maze of indulgence and excess in the hopes that she will find the sense of self that has been eluding her during her extended life in the States.

Renowned underground filmmaker Usama Alshaibi pulls no punches in his first film to grace BUFF screens since 2004. With its sado-masochistic eroticism juxtaposed with traditional Islamic imagery, it would be easy to dismiss Profane as anti-religious agit-prop. But Alshaibi invests so much depth in his main character, and so much lurks beneath the surface of his sometimes shocking setpieces, that it is easy to see that Profane is an intensely personal experience for its author. Known equally for his non-fiction filmmaking as he is for his contribution to transgressive cinema, Alshaibi applies his skills as a documentarian to this psycho-sexual horror story of one woman’s struggle with her identity and the culture clash between Middle Eastern mythology and Western pop culture”. — Kevin Monahan from Boston Underground Film Festival 2011

Awards

Best Film of the Year for 2011, Badlit.com
Best Experimental Film, Minneapolis Underground Film Festival
Best of Fest Feature, Boston Underground Film Festival
Best Director, Best Feature, Best Cinematography, Sexy International Film Festival

Screenings

Fetisch Film Festival (Germany) October 29, 2011
Porn Film Festival Berlin (Germany) October 26-30, 2011
Lausanne Underground Film & Music Festival (Switzerland) October 18 to 23, 2011
Brisbane Underground Film Festival (Australia)  October 14 , 2011
New Filmmakersat Anthology Film Archive (New York) October 12, 2011
Sydney Underground Film Festival (Australia) September 9, 2011
B Movie and Trash Film Festival (Netherlands) September 7, 2011
Chicago Underground Film Festival, (USA) June 3 & 8 2011
Boston Underground Film Festival  (USA) March 2011
Directors Lounge in Berlin (Germany) February 13, 2011
Sexy International Film Festival, Melbourne (Australia) November 24, 2010

Allah in red writing Muna-2