Among the Believers by Oscar Winner Director, Hemal Trivedi at IFFI, Goa, 2015
Thrice Emmy and one Oscar winner, Hemal Trivedi along with Pakistani Director Mohammed Ali Naqvi and Producer/Writer Jonathan Goodman Levitt is all set with their ground-breaking documentary film, ‘Among The Believers’, which charts the personal quest of a firebrand Pakistani cleric whose schools are training thousands of children to take part in jihad (holy war). It is going to be screened at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI)being held in Goa between 20th-30th November, 2015. The film will be screened in India for the first time at the festival. The film has garnered global appreciation and is expected to gain huge momentum at IFFI, Goa.
In September and October alone, “Among the Believers” will screen at a total of nine film festivals, including the most credible ones like Vancouver International Film Festival, Tallgrass Film Fest, Festival De Rio and Heartland Film Festival. Already, it has won "Outstanding Documentary" at three of those festivals.
Producer/Director Hemal Trivedi, says, “Upon losing a friend in the Mumbai terrorist attacks of 2008, I sought to understand the root cause of these attacks that were carried out by Pakistanis. After careful study, I realized that ordinary Pakistanis are themselves victims rather than perpetrators. Thesame extremist elements who carried out the attacks in Mumbai are actually terrorizing their own people on a daily basis, and the country’s very survival is at stake. I started filming in Pakistan in 2009.”
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Director Mohammed Ali Naqvi says, “Like many of the children in our film, reading the Quran was compulsory for me growing up in a religiously conservative Pakistan. And like them, I could read the script and sound out the words, but I had absolutely no idea what I was reading. What I knew of Islam was filtered through maulanas (clerics), and I found their teachings limited and shallow. Ultimately, as a reactionary stance to the ideological force-feeding, I compartmentalized my religious upbringing and made my way to the U.S. for college. It wasn’t until I moved to New York right after college – and personally witnessed the 9/11 attacks – which was when I was forced to face my own religious narrative. Many of my films, for thisreason, mirror my own spiritual quest. For me, Among the Believers will always represent my path to reconnecting with God and a faith that I had abandoned long ago.”
In November 2015, the film will premiere in Europe at CPH-Dox. It will also screen at Stockholm Film Festival and International Documentary Fil Festival Amsterdam (IDFA). The film is also nominated for Asia Pacific Screen Award and will screen at Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival in Australia in the end of November.
By the end of the year, the film will have screened at 21 film festivals on 5 continents, everywhere from Beirut to India, to Vancouver, to Sydney, to Brazil to Copenhagen to Oaxaca, Mexico.
The film successfully premiered at Tribeca Film Festival with rave reviews. The Washington Post called “Among the Believers” one of "three films you must see to truly understand Pakistan."
“I found it alarming but most of all I found it illuminating”-BBC
"The filmmaker captures a man of contradictions.” - The Wall Street Journal
“Jaw-dropping access” -- Time Out New York
‘Among the Believers’ has already won the Asia Pacific Screen Award (Nominated for Best Documentary Feature Film). It has also garnered theOutstanding Documentary Award at 5 different international film festivals and is also nominated for UNESCO, FELLINI Award at International Film Festival of India, Goa.
Firebrand cleric Abdul Aziz Ghazi, an ISIS supporter and Taliban ally, is waging jihad against the Pakistani government with the aim of imposing Shariah law. His primary weapon is his expanding network of Islamic seminaries for children as young as four.
“Among the Believers” follows Aziz’s personal quest, and charts the lives of two of his teenage students who are pawns in his ideological war.
Here is the website for the film: