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Edinburgh Fringe 2021

The Chosen Harem

Sadiq Ali

Genre: Film

Venue: Assembly Showcatcher

Festival: ,

Low Down

The final image of this is of two people just loving the company of each other. This image glances towards the barriers they face but all we see from both is love and respect on the street. The beginning has a man tied to a pillar, he escapes the pillar and lands on what appears to be prayer mat. Then we have his circus skill with a pole which impresses until it cuts to a man asleep. His waking up takes us to how our two characters first met, followed by a visit to gay club. From there it is obvious, the attraction between them as the use this time of two Chinese Poles gives us the physical representation of how we perceive them and the visits to the various places the opportunities that they may explore. It leads to conflict as one has a western attitude to drugs, whilst the other struggles with both his faith and the exposure to other influences. But it ends with love.


This is a lovely short film which does not shy away from giving us one side of this conflict being quite corrupting. The idea of the Muslim gay man is quite intriguing and as the faith debate is one which fascinates.

The use of circus to show how each are attracted and playful in their initial exchanges works extremely well. It brings us closer to the culture clash which leads to quite a disruptive argument. The upset from there is captured well and the end, which is also part of the beginning acts as more than a bookend.

The film, having taken place during lockdown is really good. It captures the unsaid with great style. There are a few editing issues whilst the club scene and the costume each use speaks to broad strokes rather than subtlety. I think we could have had more nuanced images presented but it was in lockdown after all.

Both performers are adept on the pole and off it with their performances giving great depth to their characters.

As this a short peak into what is being developed for public showing, it is a significant step back onto a stage that has captured my interest so I will look froward to the fruits of this labour.