The Sheik and I

104 minutes 2012

All of Caveh Zahedi’s playful personal-essay movies (In the Bathtub of the World, I Am a Sex Addict, etc) consider how filmmaking distorts real life and vice versa; but where the director-performer’s previous work argues that all films are inherently fictional, this feature finds him unable to avoid reality. It begins with Zahedi being invited to Sharjah, the third-largest of the United Arab Emirates, to make a movie about "art as a subversive act" for a local arts festival. He decides to make a satire about American Islamophobia, recruiting people he meets around the capital city as cartoon terrorists; everything goes well until local authorities accuse Zahedi of blasphemy and threaten to put him in jail. This makes some easy satirical jabs at the ludicrousness of state censorship, but the mood is generally thoughtful, concluding on an unexpectedly poignant note. In English and subtitled Arabic.

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