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Parvez Sharma  

Parvez Sharma is an award-winning, New York-based writer and filmmaker. His first feature, A Jihad for Love, which he directed and produced, is an international phenomenon with more than 8 million viewers in 49 nations within the first year of its release

Parvez Sharma is an award-winning, New York-based writer and filmmaker. His first feature, A Jihad for Love, which he directed and produced, is an international phenomenon with more than 8 million viewers in 49 nations within the first year of its release. Utne Reader has named Mr. Sharma one of its “50 Visionaries who are Changing your World” in a list lead by the Dalai Lama.

The film has been premiered at most major international festival venues, including a world premiere at Toronto in 2007 and a 2008 European premiere (as the opening film of the prestigious Panorama Documentary section) in Berlin. The winner of five international awards, the film has been released theatrically across the US and in Canada and is being broadcast on TV screens around the world. This documentary deals with the difficult themes of Islam and homosexuality in a post-September-11 world, and also seeks to challenge many stereotypes around Islam in a time when much of the religion and its one billion followers are misrepresented and misunderstood. The film has generated an international media blitz with The New York Times, The Washington Post, The LA Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Houston Chronicle, The Guardian, The Times of London, the Independent, Der Speigel, Stern, Newsweek, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, Variety, Hollywood Reporter, Screen International, BBC, CNN, SBS, ZDF, CBC, National Public Radio, al-Arabiya and hundreds of other media outlets, writing about and profiling Mr. Sharma’s work. He has variously been hailed as a “gifted filmmaker” (Wall Street Journal), “frankly brave” (NPR), “provocative” (San Francisco Chronicle), and “an apostate” (South Africa’s Muslim Judicial Council). He has been interviewed on more than 200 radio stations worldwide.

Even though his film has been banned in Singapore and parts of the Middle East and has led to theological condemnation in many countries, Mr. Sharma remains, in his own words, “fatwa-free” as he has become a leading spokesperson on defending Islam yet being able to speak for urgent reform, as a Muslim. He has conducted more than 200 live events across the world, talking about Islam and, in part, its relation to homosexuality.

Co-produced with five international broadcasters--France’s ARTE, Germany’s ZDF, US-based Logo, Australian SBS, the British Channel 4--and the Sundance Documentary Fund and Katahdin Foundation, the film has also brought together a historic coalition of foundations and individual donors, making it one of the best-funded documentaries of recent times. Mr. Sharma speaks nationally and internationally on college campuses and live theatrical events, including conferences and seminars, and is represented in the US by premier speakers’ agency, Keppler Speakers, and esteemed literary agency Sterling Lord.

He has been a featured speaker at more than 40 college campuses in the US, which include Stanford, Berkeley, Yale, Columbia, NYU, Harvard, Syracuse, Northwestern and the University of Chicago.

He is also a leading commentator on Islamic, racial and political issues, with his writings frequently appearing on The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, The Guardian (Online), CNN-IBN (India) and other popular websites.

He is engaged in a nationwide speaking tour, current and forthcoming writing (including an anthology called “Islam and homosexuality”, for which he has written the foreword, and a book deal with the Boston-based Beacon Press for the forthcoming My Jihad) and in pre-production for a new film, partly set in his home country, India. He has previously worked as television journalist in India and the UK, most notably for India’s largest 24-hour news television network, NDTV. He also worked with the independent group, Democracy Now! as a producer, and as a print journalist in India and the US for many prominent publications.

He has three Masters Degrees and was educated in India, the UK and the US and has also been an adjunct professor at American University, developing and teaching, amongst many other courses, that university’s first curriculum on Bollywood and other Indian cinemas. The US-based magazine Out has named Mr. Sharma one of the “Out 100” for 2008--”one of the 100 gay men and women who have helped shape our culture during the year.” He writes regularly on his popular blog and is the winner of the prestigious GLAAD media award for Outstanding Documentary in 2009.  Parvez serves on the advisory board of the Human Rights Watch LGBT Program and Purpose (an affiliate of Avaaz, a global campaigning network bringing people powered politics to decision making worldwide).

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