“My songs didn’t make me famous. The fatwa did.” When God Sleeps unfolds against the backdrop of the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks in the Bataclan concert venue and European right-wing backlash against Middle Eastern refugees. It deftly weaves the journey of exiled Iranian musician Shahin Najafi (“the Salman Rushdie of rap”) with historical context and intimate biographical detail. The narrative is rooted in Najafi’s immediate and unavoidable reality after the attacks, living under a fatwa issued against him by hardline Shiite clerics. Najafi juggles a personal life and budding romance in Cologne, far from loved ones, with a professional career whose high profile may cost him his life. He spars with bandmates who are ambivalent about the peril his status places on their lives and battles German police who refuse to see the death threat as a legitimate danger. With camerawork that underlines its intimacy, this film bears witness to the life of an outspoken artist defying powerful men intent on silencing him. Description by the Tribeca Film Festival. (Dir.: Till Schauder, United States/Germany, 2017, 88 min., DCP, German and Persian with English subtitles)
- Venue: Freer Gallery of Art
- Event Location: Meyer Auditorium
- Cost: Free. Seating is available on a first come, first served basis. Auditorium doors open approximately 30 minutes before each show.