EXCLUSIVE: Canadian sales company APL Film has acquired international sales rights for Canadian-British writer and director Shamim Sarif’s drama Polarized, a love story between two women separated by race and religion.
The film will screen in the market as part of the selection of Telefilm Canada’s Perspective Canada initiative.
Holly Deveaux co-stars as a white farm worker who is fired for racism and then falls in love with her Palestinian boss, played by Maxine Denis.
“I like to push the boundaries of the way queer women of color are portrayed,” said Sarif. “With Polarized, I believe it’s one of the first times in cinema that we see Palestinian immigrants onscreen who are successful, driving scientific innovation, and in the case of co-lead character Dalia, also queer.”
The filmmaker said she had drawn on her own experiences as well as those of her wife and producer Hanan Kattan, who is of Palestinian heritage.
“I was raised in a South Asian Muslim family, so these specific immigrant experiences are very familiar to us. We know first-hand the challenges and taboos that continue to exist around being queer in eastern and Muslim cultures,” she explained.
Polarized is Sarif’s fifth feature, with previous credits including Despite The Falling Snow.
Kattan produced under the banner of Enlightenment Productions with Juliette Hagopian of Juliette Inc.
The film was shot against the prairie landscapes of Manitoba with the support of the Canada Media Fund, Telefilm Canada, the CBC, Manitoba Film & Music and Creative Europe Media as well as regional tax incentives.
Sarif said the backdrop was integral to the story and its characters.
“I wanted a rural world where time moves slower, and where there’s a sense of isolation and emptiness, where small moments, touches, smiles, might impact our characters more deeply,” she said.
Further cast members include Tara Samuel and Adam Hurtig, Hesham Hammoud, Abraham Asto, and Baraka Rahmani.
The cinematography is by Greg Nicod and the arabesque score is by Kevon Cronin.
Sarif is represented by Dave Brown of Echo Lake Entertainment.