Sari Sanchez, left, and Fawzia Mirza star in "Signature Move." Image Christopher Rejano
Signature Move is a cross-cultural romantic comedy set in Chicago. Zaynab (Fawzia Mirza) is a 30-something Pakistani-American immigration lawyer whose recently widowed mother spends her days watching Urdu-language soap operas and trying to find a husband for her daughter. Zaynab takes up lucha libre (Mexican) wrestling lessons as a way to de-stress. When she falls for out and proud Mexican-American bookstore owner, Alma (Sari Sanchez), Zaynab is forced to confront her identity and her relationship with her mother.
Pakistani-Canadian actor, activist, writer and producer Fawzia Mirza wrote the movie with Lisa Donato, and told Chicagomag.com that the film reflects elements of her own conservative Muslim upbringing.
“My mom made us speak Urdu, study the Koran, and wear cultural clothes. It was important to her that we stayed connected. Being a Muslim, a brown girl, is an inextricable part of who I am.”
Mirza worked as a lawyer until she was 29, when she came out as gay and took up acting. She told Chicagomag.com that coming out was a convoluted process. “It took me a long time. It was around the time my father died. I had just started dating women and it clicked.”
Signature Move won the Grand Jury prize at Outfest in Los Angeles in 2017 and has been successfully doing the festival circuit. Director Jennifer Reeder told The Advocate it has been playing to “packed houses of rowdy women ready for a lesbian wrestling rom-com."
The film also stars Bollywood superstar Shabana Azmi as Zaynab's mother. Azmi is one of India's most celebrated actresses and is a committed social activist who campaigns for the acceptance of people with HIV/Aids in India. She starred in Fire, the 1996 Indian-Canadian movie which was the first Bollywood films to show lesbian love. "She's the kind of artist that I hope to continue to be. She did this tiny little indie film because she believed the story had to be told," Mirza told The Advocate.
Signature Move is screening at Queerfest and is available on itunes, Amazon and Google Play.