I recently had the opportunity to go to the USA Film Festival here in Dallas to watch Love is a Verb. This film is a documentary about Turkish Muslims belonging to the group known as Hizmet, or sometimes called “The Gulen Movement” after its founder Fethullah Gulen. It is presented by American Director Terry Spencer Hesser and narrated by Ashley Judd.
This movie is the first of its kind that focuses on this subject. I really enjoyed it, and was relieved to finally see a film honoring Muslims, giving them a good name rather than a bad one. It details the beliefs and goals behind the movement, chronicles some of its humanitarian work around the world, and also explains the history and turmoil the movement and its leader have caused in Turkey. I encourage everyone who has the opportunity to go see this inspiring documentary!
From the Director:
“In the decade after 9/11, I was vaguely aware that it was not a good time to be a Muslim in America; nor was it a good time to be an American in the Middle East. But for me – like for most Americans –this awareness morphed into specific and non-specific fears about Islam and the extreme interpretations of it. Then in 2010, I met a group of people from the Niagara Foundation who invited me on an interfaith trip to Turkey. I am not religious; but I am curious and jumped at the chance to see Turkey and to have an adventure with a culture that was foreign to me.
I also looked at the trip as an opportunity to discover new stories to film. I never dreamed that it would change my worldview. After the trip I decided that others’ worldview had to be changed as well. After a lot of reading, several more trips and a lot of scouting and interviewing, we began our journey, which eventually had us filming in six countries. This film introduced us to the work of people whose motives I would have doubted had I not witnessed their selfless commitment and bravery with my own eyes. These members of the global Hizmet movement, a loosely-affiliated group of people inspired by the work of Fethullah Gulen are dedicated to addressing social cohesion through education, dialogue, and anti-poverty work. We met people who went into war zones to educate but also to mitigate the hatred and desire for revenge that lasts long after the last body is buried. And we met others who repeatedly went to some of the most dangerous places on earth to bring medical relief. I met a woman who answered one of my questions with, “we have to love” as a simple declarative statement and a philosophical imperative. . . .”
You can read more on official website, which also provides info on screenings: Love is a Verb Official Website
The next screening is on June 7 in New York City.
Here’s the intro from the video: