In wrestling, the right signature move can take years to develop. And thirty-something Zaynab Qadir — a closeted, Muslim lawyer who takes up lucha libre-style wrestling — quickly learns that she lacks the right technique and experience…on and off the mat. Working in the heart of Chicago’s Pakistani community, Zaynab wears the mask of an obedient daughter to her endearing but conservative mother, Parveen, all the while hiding that she’s a lesbian. But when the recently widowed Parveen moves in with Zaynab, it becomes apparent that Parveen’s favorite pastime, next to staying glued to Pakistani soap operas on TV and spying on their neighbors with binoculars, is trying to find Zaynab a proper husband.
As the pressure of keeping her sexuality a secret starts to wear on her, Zaynab meets Alma (Sari Sanchez, Empire), a free-spirited Chicana and the daughter of a former wrestler — a woman who is more experienced in love and used to living her life out loud and unashamed. As their relationship progresses and they are confronted with their differences, these polar opposites are challenged to find cultural middle ground before realizing that there’s no one right way to live your own truth.
While the love affair between Zaynab and Alma is the film’s primary focus, Zaynab’s evolving relationship with her mother is also very touching. Co-written by and starring perennial Fun in Girls Shorts favorite Fawzia Mirza as Zaynab, with veteran actress Shabana Azmi playing Parveen, Signature Move is an honest and funny look at how modern romance can arise from a path steeped in tradition.
This film is a recipient of a Frameline Completion Fund grant.
— ANGELIQUE SMITH
- Premiere Status: Bay Area