New York-based boutique distributor Juno Films has acquired North American rights to the intimate and compelling Norwegian documentary “Seyran Ates: Sex, Revolution and Islam,” featuring Turkish-German feminist lawyer and one of the first female imams in Europe. The deal was brokered by DR Sales ahead of the film’s world premiere at the San Francisco Intl. Film Festival, running April 9-18.
The film brings together in front and behind the camera two strong female activists fighting for human rights, LGBTQ people and gender equality within Islam. Oslo-based Turkish/Norwegian helmer Nefise Özkal Lorentzen was nominated for the History Makers Award in New York City for her film “A Balloon for Allah,” and has been named one of the top 10 immigrant role models in Norway. The film’s main protagonist, Ates, founder of the liberal and LGBTQ-friendly Ibn Ruschd-Goethe mosque in Berlin, has been championing for years sexual revolution within Islam, a fight that has led to numerous death threats and two fatwas brought out against her.
The bio-documentary looks at her personal journey, from her humble beginnings as a Muslim girl in Turkey’s slums to her transformation as an awe-inspiring activist, dedicated to carving out inclusive spaces for women within her own religion.
“We are honored to add this portrait of a female trailblazer who seeks to reform a traditional religion with 21st century Western mores,” said Elizabeth Sheldon, co-founder of Juno Films. “Her quest to liberate Muslim women is essential. We look forward to bringing this film to North American audiences.”
Kim Christiansen, executive producer at DR Sales, who has worked with Özkal Lorentzen on all her documentary films, said about her: “She has never let me down and she just keeps getting better and better. This film is a masterpiece on how we should be building bridges between our many worlds.”
“Seyran Ates: Sex, Revolution and Islam” was produced by Jørgen Lorentzen for Oslo-based Integral Film, co-founded with the helmer, with support among others from Norwegian broadcaster NRK, the Norwegian Film Institute, Fritt Ord, the Arts Council Norway: the Audio & Visual Fund, and International Documentary Association.
Juno Films has a string of Scandinavian fiction and non-fiction biopics in its current slate: the Sundance-selected “The Most Beautiful Boy in the World,” Doc NYC entry “Tiny Tim: King of a Day” and Finnish Oscar contender “Tove.”
Next festival stops will be Denmark’s CPH:DOX (April 21-May 12), where the film will compete in the Best Nordic: Dox program, and Canada’s Hot Docs (April 30-May 9).