In many parts of the world being a queer person is frowned upon. Even more than that, it is downright dangerous. Out queer people are subject to violence, prosecution and even death. Lebanese/Canadian filmmaker Dania Bdeir brings that reality to her film Warsha. Warsha shows how a queer person desperately looks for space to exist safely as the person they truly are. Find that space even in non-traditional locales. Searching for that sliver of space whenever and wherever they can.

Syrian migrant worker Mohammad is different from the other men he works with. Not just because he is not Lebanese, but because there is a side to him which would be dangerous for him to reveal. He only allows his true self to come out when in a safe space like behind the locked door of the bathroom. A tragedy affords him a new space to express himself.

Mohammad is an undocumented worker on a construction site in Beirut, Lebanon. When another crane operator dies and they are desperate to fill the position, he volunteers for the position. This despite the fact that because of the crane’s lack of security he is putting his life in danger.

Once he is up in the crane, Mohammad, a typically quiet man, finds he has a safe space. A space in which he can let out his secret passion, his inner diva.

Finding personal freedom is something that is vital to all humans. No matter what sex or where they live on the planet. For queer people in most parts of the Middle East, it is finding a space in which they can express themselves fully without putting themselves at risk. Warsha acknowledges this and shows that if all sides a person come out it really does not affect others, so should not be shut down. Mohammad becomes his “full” self when he lets out all his sides. Does not allow himself to be constrained by society’s gender, sex or cultural norms. Liberation comes for him many feet above the ground.

Organically created, the Bdeir’s film was shot on an actual construction site in Beirut using non-actors/construction workers. But the heart of the film is a performer named Kansha. Kansha is Mohammad. He brings beauty, grace and believability to Mohammad.

To say that the film is groundbreaking for several reasons is not overstating things. And it is not just because of the subject matter. The 15-minute short film features a selection of scenes which were shot on a soundstage in France using cutting edge technologies. Though it has screened before, the film will enjoy its North American premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

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