Seyran Ates: Sex, Revolution and Islam – Director Nefise Ozkal Lorentzen

In the 1960s, the hippies championed the idea of a sexual revolution. They received neither Fatwas nor bodyguards. In director Nefise Ozkal Lorentzen latest film, SEYRAN ATES: SEX, REVOLUTION AND ISLAM we follow the work of Seyran Ateş – a Turkish-German lawyer, feminist, and one of the first female imams in Europe – is fighting for a sexual revolution within Islam. In return, she was shot, received fatwas and death threats, and now has to live under constant police protection. Seyran believes the only way to fight against radical Islam is through Islam, which is why, in her liberal mosque, there is no gender segregation or exclusion based on sexual orientation. This is the story of Seyran’s personal and ideological fight for the modernization of Islam. Her quest for change takes her on a journey around the world, meeting with different people connected through faith, from sex workers in a German brothel to Uyghur LGBTQ youth and traditional female imams in China. It is also a journey through Seyran’s life, from her humble beginnings as a Muslim girl in Turkey’s slums to a female leader daring to challenge her own religion. Seyran rebels against extremism and hate in the name of peace and love. Director Nefise Ozkal Lorentzen (Gender Me, A Balloon for Allah, Manislam) joins us for a conversation on bravery and the tenacity of Seyran Ates as well as the people who have supporter her and the incremental progress she is making.


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About the filmmaker – Nefise Özkal Lorentzen is a Turkish-Norwegian writer, filmmaker and associate professor at The faculty of Audiovisual Media and Creative Technologies at Innland University, Norway. She received her B.A in Political Science at Bosphorus University in Istanbul and her M.A in Media and Communication at the University of Oslo. Over the past two decades she has produced and directed several controversial documentaries related to Islam. As a result of her dedication to LGBTQ rights and human rights activism through her films, she’s been named one of the TOP 10 immigrant role models in Norway. Her trilogy of films entitled, Gender Me (2008), A Balloon for Allah (2011) and Manislam (2014), brings alive these untold stories through public visibility. Nefise has received several awards and nominations, and her films have premiered in prestigious festivals such as IDFA, Rhode Island Film Festival, and Göteborg Film Festival among others. She was nominated for the History Makers Award in NYC. Utilizing her workshop concept, “gender activism through films”, she has cooperated with various NGOs in Indonesia, China, Bangladesh, Turkey, Germany, USA etc. She hopes one day gender segregation and violence against women will be a long-forgotten aspect of history.


“Nefise Ozkal Lorentzen’s documentary has some mannered, staged elements that are an unnecessary distraction. But its content, and subject, have a galvanizing power nonetheless.” – Dennis Harvey, 48 Hills

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