Wani himself sounded extremely frustrated about the situation, and said he felt as if he and his wife were being "used" by Reisig, particularly considering the crowdfunding campaign. "We're sick and tired of everyone using our name(s)," he added at one point during the discussion.
Wani explained that both times he spoke with Reisig — once in October 2014 and "a couple of weeks ago" — he directed the producer to speak with his manager, Baker, of DM Baker Media.
"(My manager) didn't know anything about that film," Wani said. He added that he had also informed his attorney that if Reisig sent him a proposal, he would direct it to him. But "they just disappeared," he said.
"He disappeared since all this time, since that day. He just called us three or four weeks ago and saying they want to come (visit us)," Wani said. But the visit never happened.
"We did reach out to the family," according to the Reisig's statement emailed to CP. "To say that we were denied by them is not accurate. It was not until yesterday that we spoke to their manger (sic), who asked us not to do the film, despite the fact that it would be from the eyes of an NGO.
He continued: "Prior to that we had spoken to Daniel Wani (Meriam's husband) who at one point even invited us to their apartment. We never received a yes from them, nor did they ever say no. We decided to move forward and tell the story through the eyes of an organization working to free her. Even though we were completely in public domain with any reference to her story, we still decided that we wanted to give her 10 percent."
Baker, the Sudanese couple's manager, confirmed to CP that Tuesday was the first time he had spoken with any representative of Christian Lives Matter, LLC. He was unaware that Wani had previously spoken with Reisig. He, like his clients, learned for the first time that the movie project was going forward via the press.
"It's not about really anything else other than she hasn't given permission," Baker said of the situation caused by the film project. "In my opinion, it's not about the money. It's not about the quality of the team putting it together. It's simply, they moved ahead...they didn't have their ducks in a row so to speak. They were trying to make a movie based on her story… They kept saying it's based on her story, but then they also said, 'Well, we're making a fictionalized version.'"
Baker added, "Either way, it was totally unbeknownst to Mariam and it was very frustrating and it upset her, because it just isn't fair that someone would go ahead and make a story about her life when 75 percent of her story is still in her head, in her mind. She hasn't shared it all. She's only shared bits and pieces and if they make a story based on just the little bits and pieces that's out there in the media, they're touching the tip of the iceberg of the story. Then to feel like they can confidently go out there and make a story about her and share her passion and courage and heartache and all the things that she went through, it just doesn't make any sense. That's why she was upset about that. That's really all there was to it."
Explaining that Ibraheem and Wani "have received some viable offers for both a book and movie," Baker said the couple were carefuly evaluating those offers. And though he stated initially that the clash with Christian Lives Matter, LLC was "not about the money," he did point out that "Mariam was a successful businesswoman back in Sudan and she gave up everything when she left the country."
"The family needs to have something that's going to help provide for them. She has two small children and her husband has muscular dystrophy and is in a wheelchair," Baker added. "They really need to be a part of a project where they not only can craft the story but that they're gonna feel full security in the financial security as well. Having someone go and just create some movie and say, 'We promise to give you money,' there's no security in that for them financially."
Baker, who said he knew some of the cast members involved in "I Am A Christian," added that "Daniel and Mariam don't wish any ill on anyone. They've got rights like anybody."
"Although I bet they're well-intended people and I know many of the actors involved are amazing people and amazing actors, somehow there's been a mistake," he said of the company behind "I Am A Christian."
Wani, whose son and daughter have been granted U.S. citizenship, said Ibraheem was still waiting for her paperwork to be finalized. And though his family is facing financial challenges, Wani was indignant that even if Christian Lives Matter, LLC were to offer him "millions of dollars" to help tell their story, he would not partner with the organization.
The 17-year U.S. resident repeated that he was "not happy" with how the filmmakers had charged ahead with the movie without his permission, and stated that he found their behavior "very offensive."
Reisig, the producer of "I Am A Christian" who also teaches a "Be Your Own Hollywood" worskhop, noted in his statement Wednesday that the actors aligned with the project "are some of the best people we have ever worked with. None of this is in any way their fault."
Reisig's and Harrington's shared credits include the 2015 project, "Rodeo Girl," another crowdfunded project presently in pre-production.