Yours truly has heaped a lot of attention on a documentary about a Costa Mesa punk club, We Were Feared (here, here, and not to mention the Weekly's slideshow here). But, truth be told, it's not even the best punk-centered documentary playing at the festival tonight. That honor goes to Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam, a compelling look at Muslim punk rockers raising eyebrows among members of their faith in the U.S. and Pakistan. The back story is equally fascinating: Michael Muhammad Knight, the son of a white supremacist and convert to Islam, wrote a zine-style novel later released in book form called The Taqwacores, which was about a fictional Muslim punk rock scene in Buffalo, New York. Little did the author know that his imagination would spawn connections with actual Islamic punk and metal musicians and spoken-word types all over America. Omar Majeed's film follows Knight trying to shape the younger artists, outcasts in their faith and nation of their birth, into a movement. Everyone is ushered onto a green "Taqwa" bus that breaks down, gets stopped by Brooklyn cops (following a false report) and becomes a bonding place during a cross-country tour. The trip gets longer and stranger in the Middle East, where hilarious reaction footage to the punks bookends keenly with scenes Taqwacore presented earlier from a national Islamic convention in Chicago. Knight, meanwhile, makes a stunningly profound self-realization while abroad about his broken family dynamics back home. The pro-establishment, hyper-authoritarian, fundamentalist-religion-tinged reign of Ronald Reagan was during hardcore punk's original heyday. But ol' Ronnie was Leo Buscalgia compared with many of today's fatwā spewers. Railing against repression while on their own soil: What is more punk rock than that?
Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam plays at 5:45 tonight at Regency South Coast Village Theatre in Santa Ana. Go here for ticket info.
Check out the trailer:
Also recommended and playing today at NBFF:Douchebag
;Freedom Riders; I Am Woman;Red Bull Project X; Typeface
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The long list (today's entries that sound promising): Bouncing Cats; Elektra Luxx; High Rollers; Journeyman Architect: The Life and Work of Donald Wexler; L'Affaire Farewell; Starring Maja (Princessa); Repo; Tibet in Song; Videocracy.
Theaters: Regency Lido Theatre, 3459 Via Lido, Newport Beach; Regency South Coast Village Theatre, 1561 W. Sunflower Ave., Santa Ana; The Studio at Sage Hill School, 20402 Newport Coast Dr., Newport Beach. Visit newportbeachfilmfest.com for times, theaters and ticket information.