NAZEEM is a 26 year old Middle Eastern drag queen who names herself QUEEN ZA DREAM – she is preparing for a show with the utmost gravity, with an outfit evocative of an Egyptian deity.
Interwoven with this is the story of NAZEEM as a gender-queer 8 year-old boy, and the close bond he has with his Iraqi-Egyptian mother, HALIMA. Whilst flamboyant and in many ways a drag queen herself on the surface, HALIMA is governed by the strict expectations of gender in Arab society.
When a young NAZEEM transgresses these boundaries, HALIMA reacts in a way that is utterly confusing to him. Only though his drag, is the adult NAZEEM able to keep sacred the memories of his mother before this painful moment, and hold on to their connection.
RUN(A)WAY ARAB is a semi-autobiographical film from British-Iraqi director Amrou Al-Kadhi, who established drag troupe DENIM in 2010. The inspiration for the film is discussed more in their 2016 article for Independent.