A sweet love story about a gorgeous, gay, Arab, Muslim, Superman-adoring doctor named Mo living in West Hollywood, Breaking Fast was a breakout hit on the 2020 LGBTQ film festival circuit. Audiences of all persuasions sparked to the film’s mix of romance, faith, food, and witty comedy of gay manners.
“What is general across all of the response is that this story is so authentically specific and nuanced,” says the film’s out gay writer-director Mike Mosallam. “It sits in a very culturally specific intersection” of lead character Mo’s complicated identity as a gay man who practices Islam. With the film marking its official VOD and digital release, Mosallam hopes audiences embrace the nuance and culture, as well as the romance between hunky doctor Mo and All-American white guy Kal, “even if some of the other stuff feels foreign to them.”
Mosallam, who grew up in the largely Arab and Muslim enclave of Dearborn, Michigan, and created the TLC docu-reality series All-American Muslim, admits he’s also prepared to hear from “a small minority that will probably be very vocal about how this film is untrue or cannot possibly exist or cannot possibly be real…. But it is, in fact, very true for our characters — and for a lot of people watching the film who have said, ‘I finally get to see myself represented.'”
One of those vocal supporters has been the film’s own leading man Haaz Sleiman, a dashing Lebanese actor known for LGTBQ activism within the Arab community. “He is in a lot of ways a pioneer in terms of his outwardness of being an LGBTQ Muslim Arab,” says Mosallam.
Friends since younger days in Dearborn, Sleiman and Mosallam both eventually made their homes in Hollywood. “It felt almost too good to be true to have a guy like that in a film like this…. I think he was at a point in his life where this script felt entirely personal to him. He felt like it was something he had not done before, it was a good way of stretching his own career, and [he] has been an incredible champion to this film and to me.”
Serendipity also played a part in the casting of Sleiman’s co-star Michael Cassidy, whose character Kal — yes, as in Kal-El — certainly is a super man in Mo’s eyes. “Michael Cassidy was not somebody that I knew or at least thought I knew,” Mosallam says. After the director met with Cassidy, Mosallam learned the actor had recently played Jimmy Olsen in Batman v Superman. “As you can tell from the film, I’m a big Superman fan,” says Mosallam. “So it was, to me, all the more reason that he was the one.”
Breaking Fast is available January 22 on VOD and Digital. Visit www.breakingfastfilm.com.
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