It's basically about someone who had a dream and went for it and fulfilled it against great odds.
—Saira Rahman, filmmaker
The unforgettable story of a mosque that was built in Winnipeg and shipped to Inuvik is coming to the small screen.
Three years ago, the "little mosque on the tundra" made headlines around
the world when Winnipegger Hussain Guisti raised money to build the mosque and
transport it by truck and barge to its permanent home.
Sisters Saira and Nilufer Rahman shot the film and are excited about finishing the project that took three years to complete. The Rahman sisters didn't know anything about the mosque leaving Winnipeg until they were contacted by Guisti.
"He called us up a few days before the mosque left Winnipeg," Saira recalls, "and we had to decide whether to take it on as our first feature film. We trusted our gut and we thought it was such an unusual story, we had to do it."
Mosque on trailer (Snow Angel Films)
The 4,000 kilometre journey posed many challenges in the telling of the story. "We couldn't necessarily be with it on the whole journey," explains Nilufer.
"But we did film it leaving Winnipeg to get a sense of the prairie landscape and we did send a videographer (Sean Parenteau of StrongFront AV Productions) who agreed on very short notice to go to Alberta, meet the mosque outside of Edmonton and follow it all the way to Hay River at which point it set off on the barge on the Mackenzie River. So he followed it for a week and got some really great footage of the mosque travelling through Alberta. We met up with it again as it approached Inuvik in the Northwest Territories."
Naturally there were favourite moments for the filmmakers. "For me personally," says Saira, "getting on a helicopter in Inuvik and meeting up with the mosque a few hours before it arrived. That was my first time in a helicopter and we were over the Delta and I'd never seen it before. It was so peaceful up there. Then to see our little mosque...we grew attached to it and it was wonderful, a feeling that I will always remember."
As for what the viewer will get out of this film, Saira hopes they will simply be entertained. "It's basically about someone who had a dream and went for it and fulfilled it against great odds. There were a few scary moments along that journey when we didn't think it would get there."
Nilufer says the ultimate pleasure was getting to meet the people in community of Inuvik."It was a really lovely example of goodwill and fellowship. For us being able to witness that and the relationships that people have with each other that really transcend their religion, their culture, their language. It's very uplifting and I think it will motivate people to just continue to go out and build bridges with each other and develop these strong relationships that are so enriching."Arctic Mosque airs on CBC-TV in Manitoba on Saturday August 3 at 7 p.m.