Elevate Difference


Directed by Malene Choi Jensen

Malene Choi Jensen’s InshAllah impresses with its muted visuals and quiet background score. Sabha Khan is a Danish Muslim girl, struggling to create an independent life. She is devoted to her family, has wonderfully supportive friends. She is obviously intelligent, but is unable to find work because of her religious identity and her decision to wear a head scarf.

Interspersed with interview footage are sequences depicting Sabha’s home and social lives. She reads to us the countless rejection letters from potential employers—all attempting to conceal their blatant racism and xenophobia. Jensen’s visual scheme is particularly effective, using a range of pastel pinks, oranges and purples, with scenes bathed in natural sunlight creating an almost dreamlike experience.

The film effectively manipulates time to create a flowing narrative. Sabha begins hopeful and driven, only to become more pessimistic and defeated by the film’s end. Her utter frustration speaks to a larger theoretical framework of institutional exclusion, in which those who continually seek more opportunity are inevitably constricted and confined by others’ intolerance. Given the current political climate in the United States (and abroad), Jensen’s work counts as a vital exploration of Muslim women’s identity and agency. It’s a quietly powerful film—one that deserves a wider audience and an even wider appreciation.

Written by: Ashvin Kini, May 24th 2007