Deaf Sisterhood is a short documentary about Aran Slade, a 27-year-old white woman living in Birmingham, U.K., who is thinking of becoming Muslim (you can see the trailer below. For those in the U.K., it’s airing this week, on stations listed here.). Although her family is not religious, Aran became Christian ten years ago, and is now learning about Islam, partly because her partner, Saghir, is Muslim.
As you might have guessed from the title, Aran is Deaf, and the film is almost entirely in British Sign Language, with English voice-overs and captioning. This makes it very accessible for people who are both Deaf and hearing, whether or not they understand BSL. Funded by the British Sign Language Broadcasting Trust, the film is clearly made with Deaf people as the film’s audience and not simply as subjects to be looked at. In other words, it didn’t make a spectacle out of Aran’s Deafness.
Through the film, Aran goes to Islamic lectures in BSL and to a Deaf Muslim conference, and meets some women who have become Muslim, as well as others who have been Muslim all their lives. She also talks to her mother, an atheist who wants to support her but is concerned about what the rigid rules that she understands Islam to have, and to a Christian friend who questions her exploration of Islam. Interestingly, Aran’s boyfriend is not interviewed in the film, although he is frequently discussed; Aran explains that he would like her to become Muslim, but is okay with her being Christian. The documentary is a very open and honest look at one woman’s religious exploration, and the reactions of her friends and family are equally frank.