The Fabulous Picture Show
'The Infidel'
A Muslim discovers one day that he is not only adopted at birth but he is actually Jewish.
Last Modified: 07 Apr 2010 13:39 GMT

Imagine if Homer Simpson were a Muslim named Mahmud who discovers one day that he is actually Jewish.

That is the premise behind The Infidel, a new British comedy written by David Baddiel and directed by Josh Appignanesi.

Entertainment editor Amanda Palmer talks to The Infidel's Omid Djalili and David Baddiel

The film stars Omid Djalili as Mahmud, along with Richard Schiff, best known as Toby in The West Wing, as a Jewish London cabbie.

Does the "F-word" occasionally pass Mahmud's lips? It is hardly worth mentioning. Does he say his prayers five times a day? Of course! Well, usually… Does he fast every day of Ramadan? Who is counting, anyway?

He may not be the most observant, but in his heart he is as Muslim as it gets.

But after his mother's death a discovery turns Mahmud's world upside down. He finds his birth certificate, which reveals that not only was he adopted at birth… but he is also Jewish, and his real name is Solly Shimshillewitz.

Comedian and star of the film, Omid Djalili, plus fellow comedian and screenwriter David Baddiel join Amanda Palmer, Al Jazeera's head of entertainment, to talk about what provoked this ethnic comedy, which is infused with as many Jewish jokes as it is Muslim; the director of the film, Josh Appignanesi, also joins the FPS audience to talk about the challenges of shooting a comedy.

The Taqwacores

Islam and Punk collide in The Taqwacores

The Taqwacores is the unlikely collision of "Islam" and "punk" forged by young American-born Muslims attempting to reconcile the different sides of their identity.

It all began when Michael Muhammad Knight wrote the novel of the same name, in which he imagined moving into a house of punk Muslims.

The book became an underground sensation and spawned a real movement of Muslim punk bands.

Now, director Eyad Zahra has turned The Taqwacores into a feature film which launched at this year's Sundance film festival.

The Fabulous Picture Show was there when director Zahra, his cast and crew, original author Knight and the real Taqwacore punk bands all descended on Sundance in Park City, Utah, to launch the film.

The controversial low budget feature tells the story of Yusef, a strait-laced Pakistani-American student looking for Muslim room-mates.

He finds the house of Taqwacores, where everyone is indeed a Muslim, but finds his ideas of his faith challenged by his new friends who mix Quranic study with music, sex and partying.

The Fabulous Picture Show is with them from their punkish accommodation – everyone staying on the floor in one big house – through the press interviews where they attempt to explain the controversial film to both secular/Christian Americans and Muslims, and all the way to the movie's world premiere.

12 Angry Lebanese

Prisoners perfom in 12 Angry Lebanese

Gutsy theatre director Zeina Daccache has a history of working with traumatised and disadvantaged people – but when she decided to mount the play 12 Angry Men in Lebanon's notorious Roumieh prison, she went a step further than anyone ever had before.

Murderers, rapists and drug dealers were among the inmates who signed up for 15 months of her unorthodox workshops.

For most, it was the first opportunity they’d had to reflect on their crimes and emotional states.

Together, they adapted the play to their own experiences, and the resulting production brought the performers face-to-face with an audience of government officials and curious visitors from around the world.

FPS correspondent Lama Matta talks to Daccache about her new film, 12 Angry Lebanese, which documents this bold project and which she hopes will change attitudes towards prison therapy in the Middle East.

This episode of The Fabulous Picture Show can be seen from Thursday, April 1, at the following times GMT: Thursday: 0600; Friday: 0030 and 0830; Saturday: 1130 and 2330; Sunday: 0630 and 2130; Monday: 1430; Tuesday: 0530, 1230 and 1930; Wednesday: 0300. 

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