In her new documentary “Why Can’t I be a Sushi?,” British-Iraqi filmmaker Hoda Elsoudani explores the sectarian tensions between Sunnis and Shias. The filmmaker found a unique way to approach the sensitive subject by having two young sisters — Nimah, 10, and Sofia, 8 — serve as correspondents, the girls traveled throughout Great Britain, interviewing scholars, historians and members of the public about their thoughts on the sectarian divide. The filmmaker says that the fact that the subjects were talking to children put them at ease, making their responses more thoughtful and less terse and defensive than if they had been discussing the issue with colleagues.
Ms. Elsoudani self-identifies as a “sushi” because she does not want to be labeled. “I was raised not to belong to any sect or group, but everyone you meet wants to put you in one box or another. I want to take the best from both worlds and so self-identify as a combination of both.”
“My overall message is that you should be able to practice your religion however you want to practice it – according to what you believe – but you must still have a bond of love and respect between you and others,” says the filmmaker.
The documentary is currently playing the film festival circuit.