Muslim Stories and Voices in Film
USC researchers published a study titled "Missing and Maligned: The Reality of Muslims in Popular Global Movies" (https://assets.uscannenberg.org/docs/aii-muslim-rep-global-film-2021-06-09.pdf) that found a severe lack of Muslim representation in film. These films feature Muslim stories that move beyond stereotypes and show the complexity and diversity of the Muslim community.
The Great Muslim American Road Trip2022Get this item
Married couple Mona Haydar and Sebastian Robins learn just how much they didn't know about the past and present of Muslims in the United States when they follow historic Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles. When asked about the goal of the show, Haydar replied that it was an opportunity to be real on camera. It originally aired in three parts on PBS. Suggested by Andrew.
Flee2022Get this item
Amin (a pseudonym) reveals a hidden past about himself and his family when they fled the war in Afghanistan in the 1990s. This earned three Oscar nominations: Best Animated Feature, Best Documentary, and Best International Feature Film. We loved how this documentary uses a mixture of animation and archival footage to tell a beautiful, at times heartbreaking, story of compassion, courage, and creativity. Suggested by Chris, Rummanah, and Sharon.
Casablanca Beats2022Get this item
Using the framework of a story about an inspiring teacher and his students, filmmaker Nabil Ayouch gives his viewers an initial look at Casablanca, Morocco in which identity, religion, and politics clash. Through the power and music of hip hop, students are able to express themselves. All of the characters play fictional versions of themselves in the movie. Suggested by Rummanah.
Offside2007Get this item
A group of girls want to see the 2006 World Cup qualifying match; however, Iranian law bans them from entering the stadium. Filmmaker Jafar Panahi was inspired by his own daughter, who decided to do just that. The result is an insightful, relatable crowd-pleasing dramedy. Suggested by Sharon.
Kedi2017Get this item
This heartwarming documentary follows seven stray cats through the ancient streets of Istanbul, as they live and interact with the people who take care of them. It is a unique inside look at the primarily Muslim city and the humans who cherish their feline friends. Suggested by Sharon.
Mogul Mowgli2022Get this item
Riz Ahmed makes his screenwriter debut and stars in this atmospheric and intimate drama about British Pakistani rapper Zed, who is diagnosed with an illness right before he is scheduled to go on his first world tour. The illness forces Zed to confront his discomfort and his struggle to figure out his heritage and his identity. The rap monologues show Ahmed as his most vulnerable. The BAFTA nominated film is directed by Pakistani American Bassam Tariq. Suggested by Rummanah.
Breaking Bread2022Get this item
Nof Atamna-Ismaeel was the first Muslim Arab to win Israel’s reality TV show MasterChef. Believing that food is a path to social change, she creates a food festival in Haifa where Arab and Jewish chefs work side by side to create delicious dishes. You don’t have to be a foodie to enjoy the documentary--the message of friendship is universal. Suggested by Sharon.
Peace by Chocolate2022Get this item
Based on a true story. The Hadhad family, refugees from the Syrian civil war, are offered sponsorship in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. They find a way to pursue their dreams, give back to their new community, and inspire other refugees. Suggested by Sharon.
These Birds Walk2019Get this item
Filmmakers Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq's remarkable documentary follow the lives of lost children in Karachi, Pakistan, and the humanitarian effort of the Edhi Foundation. In equal measures of heartbreak and beauty, the directors opt for observational cinema to tell their story. Suggested by Rummanah.
The Perfect Candidate2021Get this item
A staff favorite. Saudi director/writer Haifaa al-Mansour delivers a thoughtful, empowering, and unapologetically feminist film. The story focuses on Dr. Maryam, who finds herself running in a local election in order to improve her community. Her candidacy shakes up the community as she pushes for acceptance, respect, and her voice to be heard. Suggested by Rummanah and Sharon.
Life without Basketball2019Get this item
Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir was the first hijabi Muslim woman to play NCAA Division I basketball and was well on her way to the WNBA, but her dream of turning pro was blocked by the International Basketball Federation's ruling on not allowing any headgear. This insightful documentary shows how Bilqis' faith and identity were pitted against her dreams. Unable to play, she started the organization Muslim Girls Run Hoop Too and help paved the way for other Muslim female athletes. Suggested by Rummanah.
Breaking Fast2021Get this item
Nominated for this year's GLAAD award for Outstanding Film in Limited Release. Mike Mosallam directs a heartwarming romantic comedy set during Ramadan in which Mo, a practicing Muslim living in West Hollywood, is learning to navigate life post-heartbreak until he unexpectedly meets Kal. The movie's portrayal of a cross-cultural relationship and its exploration of the intersectionality between identity, culture, and faith is refreshing, heartfelt, and introspective. Suggested by Rummanah.
Blinded by the Light2019Get this item
Inspired by the life and nonfiction book by journalist Sarfraz Manzoor, set in 1987 Great Britain, the story follows Javed, a British Pakistani Muslim, who discovers Bruce Springsteen's music and finds that he strongly identifies with the songs. It helps him cope with problems and frustrations, relationships, economic hardship, and bigotry, as well as gain confidence to break with tradition, to pursue his dreams, and develop his own voice. Even if you know little or nothing about Springsteen, the movie does a wonderful job illustrating the lyrics and connecting them to Javed. Suggested by Sharon.
Between Allah & Me (and Everyone Else)2016Get this item
The hijab, a head covering worn in public by some Muslim women, is highly discussed within and outside the Muslim community. Many people are unaware that the hijab is a personal choice and a relationship established between the individual and Allah (the Arabic word for God). This enlightening and candid documentary explores the challenges faced by four practicing Muslim women in North America as they decide to start or stop wearing hijab and how the hijab is perceived by others. Suggested by Rummanah.
Mooz-lum2011Get this item
Tariq Mahdi struggles with his identity and faith. Writer/director Qasim Basir used his own experiences growing up Muslim as a broad basis for the movie. This coming-of-age film set in the wake of 9/11 is memorable, thoughtful, and authentic. Suggested by Douglas, Rummanah, and Sharon.
Le grand voyage2005Get this item
This unusual road trip movie spotlights the tenuous relationship between a Moroccan religious father and his irreligious French-born son named Reda. Reda is summoned to take his father via car to Mecca for his father's hajj. As they journey through the south of France to Mecca, they encounter various strangers along the way. While religion and politics form the backdrop of the movie, the film is more interested in the intergenerational clash and the desperate need to understand one another. Suggested by Rummanah.
The Color of Paradise2000Get this item
This is an extremely moving and touching film that feels very natural. Despite the movie's simple plot, it is very powerful, and the different familial relationships that help the boy "see" elevate this from your stereotypical movie about people with disabilities. Suggested by Rummanah.
The Mauritanian2021Get this item
An intense legal drama based on Mohamedou Ould Slahi's memoir "Guantanamo Diary." This is the true story of Slahi's detainment in the notorious detention camp for 14 years without being charged with a crime. The acting is excellent, especially that of Tahar Rahim, who steals the show. Slahi has a new documentary called "Guanatamo Revisited" in which he expressed his desire to meet up with his captors and interrogators again for tea. Suggested by Rummanah.
Jodái-e Náder az Simin]: A Separation2012Get this item
From filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, this is the first movie from Iran to win the Oscar for Best International Film, followed by his movie "The Salesman," which won in 2017. This riveting story focuses on a married couple who separate and the ensuing fallout that affects their family and that of a hired caregiver. Farhadi excels at crafting layered domestic dramas that examine the human condition, social class divisions, moral dilemmas, and ethical issues. Suggested by Rummanah and Sharon.
FatimaGet this item
This Cesar award-winning film tackles the themes of motherhood, assimilation, immigration, and prejudice through the eyes of a working single mother who feels estranged by her two daughters. The screenplay and performances are excellent in depicting realistic success and failures. Suggested by Rummanah.
New Muslim Cool2015Get this item
This documentary shines the light on the spiritual journey of Hamza Jason Perez, a young Puerto Rican religious convert who is constantly trying to reinvent himself to become a better person and to help improve his community. This thought provoking film not only dispels the common myth that Muslims are only from the Middle East and South Asia, but also shows the limitations of freedom of speech and freedom of religion in the United States. Suggested by Rummanah.
Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You're a Girl)2020Get this item
Learning to Skateboard is a heartwarming and heartbreaking look into the lives of Afghan girls who secretly attend Skateistan, a charity-run school, and learn how to skateboard. Though the current state of Skateistan is unknown, its impact on the girls' lives is long-lasting. The film is the winner of the 2020 Oscar for short documentary. Suggested by Rummanah and Sharon.
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