By: Blake Fowler
In 2009, author Paul Moses wrote a book titled “The Saint and the Sultan”. This book has recently been made into a movie. UW-Whitewater’s Young Auditorium hosted an exclusive premiere of the film on Tuesday Oct. 3.
This movie premiere was part of a three-day series of events for the book and film. In attendance were both Daniel Tutt, the director of the film as well as Paul Moses himself.
The event started around 7 p.m. with Tutt explaining the film and where he gained inspiration from. He explained that the story of the meeting between St. Francis of Assisi and Islamic leader Sultan Malik Al-Kamil had always interested him.
“We wanted to convey that a single relationship can modify someone’s perception of a different culture,” Tutt said.
It was the psychological concept of a “contact hypothesis” that also inspired Tutt. This means someone can only understand another person’s culture by encountering that person. He explained that the movie tries to use the story of this encounter between St. Francis and Al-Kamil to change the Christian perception of Muslims.
After introducing the film, Tutt received applause from the audience as they settled in. The film was just over an hour long. It was an interesting film that even someone with very little knowledge of religious history could enjoy.
After the showing, Tutt began to take questions from the crowd. He told the audience that he would be more than happy to answer questions about the film as well as his production company, UPF (Unity Productions Foundation).
“The Saint and the Sultan was filmed in a studio in Baltimore, Maryland. We used the same studio that ‘House of Cards’ is filmed in, so that was kinda cool,” Tutt said.
The audience seemed to be more interested in the social impact of the film than anything else. One Audience member asked Tutt about how the film was being received by other audiences. Tutt reassured everyone that the film had gotten great reception from the public television community.
As 8:30 approached, the question-and-answer segment of the night ended. The event was concluded by a Young Auditorium staff member encouraging people to come back the next night for the final event in the series: an open panel discussion with both Moses and Tutt.
“I really enjoyed the film. I think there is something that society could learn from St. Francis’s encounter. I wish everyone could just hold off their prejudice about Muslims until they’ve educated themselves and actually meet a Muslim,” Jeanne Mulrooney, a Whitewater local and audience member, said after the movie.
The Saint and the Sultan proved to be an educational film about a very polarizing topic in today’s society. Catch the film’s television premiere Dec. 26 on PBS.