Openly gay Norwegian filmmaker Eirik Andreas Sandaker presents this portrait of Kaltham Alexander Lie, an Iraqi-born activist who gained some degree of notoriety as the first Muslim in Norway to openly declare his homosexuality.
Sandaker claims that he wants to use this film to explore the unique challenges that Islamic theocracy places on gay individuals. Lie offers numerous recollections of what it means to be gay in a fiercely homophobic Islamic society, and Sandaker expands on this theme by interviewing a gay young Muslim adult who sought refuge in Norway because of the threats to his life in his native Somalia. The latter individual, unlike Lie, keeps his identity secret out of fears of reprisals from his local expatriate community.
Lie’s openness, however, comes with its own problems – particularly in an ugly moment when he and Sandaker are violently insulted in an Oslo café by a group of Arab men. Even more embarrassing are bumbling efforts by Basim Ghozlan, the head of the Islamic Union of Oslo, to justify Islamic homophobia – he claims that he wouldn’t mind having Lie as his hairdresser, but not as his imam.
While the subject matter is certainly worthy of consideration, Sandaker’s clumsy filmmaking skills and Lie’s decided lack of raconteur abilities results in a production that requires more than a little patience to follow. Even at a compact 35 minutes, “The Choice of Love” gets stale fairly quickly. Furthermore, the film’s coverage of a march against gay marriage in downtown Oslo clearly shows that anti-LGBT feelings are not unique to any single religion or ethnic heritage – which, of course, dilutes the concept of Sandaker’s endeavor.