Image courtesy of Signature Move.
Signature Move is one of the most anticipated films at this year’s Long Beach LGBTQ Film Festival running from September 7 to 10. It is directed by Jennifer Reeder and written by Lisa Donato and Fawzia Mirza, who plays Zaynab in the film.
The story follows Zaynab, a Pakistani, Muslim lawyer in her thirties living in Chicago. She works as a lawyer and decides to accept lucha-style wrestling lessons as payment for legal services from a client. Zaynab’s mother, Parveen, who was recently widowed, moves in with her. Both maddening and lamentable, Parveen’s (Shabana Azmi) days are spent watching TV dramas and finding Zaynab a suitable husband by way of binocular vision from her living room window.
Out for a drink after work, Zaynab meets Alma (Sari Sanchez), a Jewish-Mexican woman who owns a bookstore. Tequila shots and loosened inhibitions take them to Alma’s bedroom, from which Zaynab sneaks out of in the morning. The rest of their relationship ensues on what seems to be an unsound foundation. As a whole, they never seem to learn much about each other.
With all the time Zaynab spends in the ring, it’s easy to forget she has a law degree. For her, the lucha-style wrestling becomes a spiritual experience and a way for her to positively vent her growing frustration with Alma and her mother. Alma’s mother is a former pro-wrestler and encourages Zaynab to keep practicing. Both of their mothers are immigrants, both of them hear their mothers speak in a different language and both of them respond in English. And of course, it’s refreshing to see first generation women of color as primary characters.
Throughout the film, I became more invested in the relationship between Zaynab and her mother, Parveen. She has no idea until late in the movie that her daughter has no interest in becoming wed to a husband. Although much of the drama persists around Zaynab and Alma’s relationship, the very last scene of the film suggests that the narrative is actually about the growth of Zaynab and Parveen’s relationship, between a traditionally-minded Pakistani mother and her modern American daughter.
The film has already been awarded the Grand Jury Prize for Best U.S. Narrative Feature at Outfest Los Angeles, Best Feature for American Spectrum at Indy Film Fest, and many others. Guests attending the festival should expect Q&A sessions with the cast and crew after the viewing as well as the opportunity to mingle with industry professionals.
Signature Move plays on Sunday, September 9 at 5:15PM at the Art Theatre in Long Beach, located at 2025 East 4th Street.