Produced by: Sheila Jayadev, Helen Panckhurst
Directed by: Jeffrey Walker
Written by: Andrew Knight, Osamah Sami
Starring: Osamah Sami, Don Hany, Frances Duca, Helana Sawires.
Ali’s Wedding is a comedy about an Iraqi Muslim, Ali (Osamah Sami) who doesn’t want to get married – not to the girl his parents want him to marry, anyway.
What he wants is to make his father proud. Even if it means lying to the Muslim community about his Entrance Score, pretending to study medicine, and becoming engaged to one girl while being in love with another. It’s a tangled web of lies and deceit sprung from the idea that if he doesn’t live up to expectations he will make it up as he goes along.
Based on a true story (‘Unfortunately’, states Osamah who wrote the screenplay based on his own life), Ali’s Wedding is about a Muslim community living in Melbourne, Australia.
Melbourne is an incredibly multi-cultural city with many religions and traditions floating around. But it’s rare to be given insight into the Muslim traditions here and to realise how strict it remains.
The women are segregated from the men in the mosque, watching the proceedings broadcast to their separate room via a TV, the girls are looked down upon if they go to Uni and going out with a guy is strictly forbidden unless they’re married (if only temporarily).
I hate that girls are still so caught up in these traditions, that their intelligence can’t be celebrated, yet the men are put on pedestals.
I know, I know, a comedy. But, how is this still possible in Australia?! And how is it that dirty old men can have many wives? Is this not polygamy? And therefore illegal? It’s legal to have multiple de facto relationships, but does this not go against Islamic religion because it’s not marriage?
Aside from this sticky issue (meaning I have an issue with polygamy not the film itself. And that I promise my rant is over, well temporarily, like these supposed marriages), I can say this film is about how Ali attempts to keep up the traditions while also living in a country so very different to where his parents grew up.
There’s an adorable idiocy to Ali, with his genuine need to make people happy at the cost of being himself. There’s a sincerity with a turning of prejudice into humour. And an honest exploration of what it means to be a Muslim in Australia.
There’s been real effort to give the film authenticity, such as bringing extras in from the community and writer, Osama Sami as himself, AKA, Ali.
Don Hany as Sheikh Mahdi, Ali’s father, conveys a wise and warm-hearted man. Who loves his family with a godly patience. And I found some of what was said by the father both amusing and thought-provoking.
So, some of the humour hit the mark; some, for me – not so much.
A debut feature film for director, Jeffrey Walker (previous experience including the JACK IRISH TV movies starring Guy Pearce), Ali’s Wedding is full of heart. And although I question some of the humour, this is something new – a film about the Australian Muslim community told from the perspective of a Muslim that’s managed to be funny while also providing insight.