When directors Hemal Trivedi and Mohammed Naqvi set out to make their documentary, “Among the Believers,” they wanted to examine the increasing political and religious turmoil in Pakistan since the War on Terror, focusing on the head of the Red Mosque, Maulana Abdul Aziz Ghazi. What they didn’t expect was a wave of controversy, death threats and even having the film banned in Pakistan. In a new featurette, exclusive to IndieWire, Naqvi and crew members speak out about the aftermath.
“I was scared. I was worried about my family, I was worried about myself. I was worried about my crew,” explains Naqvi after receiving death threats and going into hiding.
Per the synopsis, the film “follows Abdul Aziz Ghazi, an ISIS supporter and Taliban ally, who’s 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.”
The duo premiered their movie at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival and received accolades in various film festivals there after. Upon wanting to distribute and screen the doc across the world, their project received backlash from Pakistan for the way they depicted religious extremism and was ultimately banned in the country.
“It’s amazing to show your work all over the world,” says Naqvi in the video. “But there’s a really big part of you, as an artist, as a Pakistani-Muslim artist, you don’t necessarily get that final validation until you share it with your own people and your own home.”
“Among the Believers” opens in theaters in New York on September 30 and in Los Angeles on October 6. For more information visit amongthebelieversfilm.com