Synopsis: Saif is a religious, tightly wound, young man who is vulnerable after his father’s death. He has failed to launch and grows increasingly enthralled by online extremist content. Saif exerts his influence over his younger brother, Zulfy, and leads them both down a tragic path that leads to Zulfy’s death. The film opens with Saif carrying the burnt lifeless body of Zulfy to a hideout as their bombing mission has gone terribly wrong. Saif performs the ritual washing of Zulfy’s body in preparation for a proper Muslim burial, but soon learns from Bilal, the mastermind, that they were both meant to become unwitting martyrs. Saif has his revenge.
Ed Lilli (ZULFY)
Rana Haddad (MOTHER)
Ollia Adams (ASH)
Philippe Auguste (BILAL)
Shuja Uddin (AQIB)
According to a recent study published by Politifact, of the 85 terrorist acts committed on American soil from Sept 12th, 2001 through December 31st, 2016, nearly three quarters were carried out by right-wing extremists. This only accelerated during the Trump era – one need look no further than the events of January 6th, 2021. It bears mentioning these are predominately white, Christian men and women who are often given sympathetic portrayals in the media. It is a different story when the suspect is a Muslim, however. Saif, the (anti)hero of “How to Wash the Dead,” is driven to extreme violence by a manipulation and distortion of his faith. The purpose of the film is to contextualize and humanize some of the dark swirling undercurrents in the psyche of a “would-be” terrorist. This film invites the viewer not to excuse nor endorse, but to empathize – to find the human being behind the headline.
ASAD KIRMANI is a Writer/Director and a practicing psychiatrist in Austin, TX. While in medical school he produced and directed a film, “All the Wrong Reasons,” a full-length comedy feature about a hapless young medical student. While doing his psychiatric residency in New York City he produced and directed “Curing Gender,” a documentary about the history of psychiatry and transsexuality that has been used educationally by a number of hospitals and institutions across the country. He has written and directed three short films, “Stress Freud,” “Pornistan,” and “Hijabi.”