Saif is young, angry, Muslim, American. Vulnerable after his father’s death, and enthralled by online extremist content, he drags himself and his brother into the depths of misplaced vengeance. He is forced to deal with the devastating aftermath.
“ACCORDING TO A RECENT STUDY published by Politifact,of the 85 terrorist acts committed on American soil from Sept 12th, 2001 through December 31st, 2016, nearly three quarters were carried out by right-wing extremists – one need look no further than the recent events surrounding the case of Kyle Rittenhouse, the Kenosha, Wisconsin shooter, or the events of January 6th, 2021. It bears mentioning these are predominately white, Christian men who are often given sympathetic portrayals in the media. It is a different story if the suspect is a Muslim. Saif, the (anti)hero of How to Wash the Dead, is a young, angry, Muslim-American driven to extreme violence by a manipulation and distortion of his faith.
“AS IN GUS VAN SANTS ELEPHANT – a film that follows a group of high school students through the course of one day as they quarrel, flirt, insult and play with each other among which are two that are planning to murder their peers. Van Sant’s film allows the audience to deeply consider the context of the murderers’ lives without offering simple explanations as to the cause of their actions. SimiIarly, in How to Wash the Dead, I want the audience to live with Saif and his family for a short while – to try and understand the human being behind the potential headline.”