PROFANE will have its US premiere at the Boston Underground Film Festival on Saturday, March 26th & 29th, 2011 at 11:55pm at the Kendall Square Cinema in Cambridge, MA
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