Sunday, April 21, 2024

Rules of the Game Comedic Short Film In Post-Production

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From writer, producer, and actor Kausar Mohammed and director Fawzia Mirza, comes Rules of the Game, a comedic short film exploring themes of sisterhood, tradition, and belonging.

rules of the game logo, playing card on red background

All cards are on the table when a queer, Muslim, South Asian American woman introduces her partner for the first time at a family game night.

Starring Kausar Mohammed as Noor, Vico Ortiz as Luz, Meera Rohit Kumbhani as Soraya, Pia Shah as Kiran, and D’Lo as David, Rules of the Game is an exploration of the customs that we hold and the growing pains of shedding those which no longer serve us.

As Mohammed explains, Noor, our main character, finds her backbone and our three sisters, Noor, Soraya, and Kiran, decide to put each other before their traditions. The theme of it all is unlearning: gender norms, obsolete traditions, and self-doubt. 

Mohammed shares that the script was inspired by the idea that, regardless of how accepting as our families might be of queerness, gender and even “straightness” are so deeply entrenched within us as a society. Particularly, within South Asian culture! To set the stage, imagine… “A huge South Asian family gathering. The evening winds down, bellies are full, chai is poured — and then comes that moment. All the women go to the kitchen to clean and all their husbands go outside to talk sports. But where do you and your partner go, if you don’t fit into a cis-hetero box?! Do you clean or do you sports?!”

That moment of decision making is where Mohammed is reminded that she’s Pakistani, Muslim, and Queer. And that it is not “normal.” What would it be like for her, the baby of the family, to bring her queer partner home for the first time? Is there space to exist as her whole self AND her family?

GLAAD reports that while LGBTQ inclusion in film is up, trans & queer people of color representation is down. Against the backdrop of our current political climate, Rules of the Game is an act of resistance and a story that reflects the representation we need right now. 

This project is an anchor between “who I authentically am and the cultural, traditional, patriarchal systems around me. If I can make Noor fit into her family, even if just on-screen, I can have a tangible visual to manifest for myself and others like me.”

Rules of the Game was filmed over two days in Los Angeles and is currently in post-production. You can follow the Instagram for sneak peeks and keep up with the film as it nears release!

Meet the sisters!

Rules of the Game Cast and Crew

Screenwriter, producer, and actor Kausar Mohammed is a Bengali-Pakistani writer, actress, and comedian born in San Jose, California. She is a writer/performer in the distinguished all- South Asian comedy troupe, The Get Brown, and in the 2021 CBS Diversity Showcase. Kausar plays series lead in Paul Feig’s (“Bridesmaids”) dramedy, EAST OF LA BREA. She also has worked alongside Taraji P. Henson on the film WHAT MEN WANT (Paramount), Issa Rae on the film LITTLE (Universal), and has additional credits on shows such as SILICON VALLEY (HBO), BLACK LIGHTNING (CW), and CAROL’S SECOND ACT (CBS). Kausar also voices lead characters on Steven Spielberg’s two animated series, JURASSIC WORLD: CAMP CRETACEOUS (Netflix) and the hit anime show, GREAT PRETENDER (Netflix).

Fawzia Mirza is also a writer, performer, and creator who believes in the power of comedy to tackle divisive topics and breakdown stereotypes. She was named a White House ‘Champion of Change’ in Asian American Art and Storytelling, a ‘Top 10 Creative’ (Indiewire), ’10 Filmmakers to Watch’ (Independent Magazine), an alum of Tribeca Film Institute’s All Access Program, a Canada Arts Council grantee, and one of the Chicago Dept. of Cultural Affairs inaugural ‘Esteemed Artists.’ Her first feature, SIGNATURE MOVE, which she cowrote, produced and stars in, world premiered at SXSW, screened 150+ film festivals globally, won 14 awards (Outfest Grand Jury Prize, Best US Narrative), available on Amazon/itunes. She wrote on the CBS series THE RED LINE, executive produced by Greg Berlanti and Ava DuVernay.

Mirza directing
Mirza while directing.

Producer Amalia Mesa is an independent film producer and managing director of SpeakOut – The Institute for Democratic Education and Culture. She spent a decade working on film and television productions in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and San Francisco, helping to develop and produce projects for HBO, Universal, Marvel Studios, 20th Century Fox, BET, and National Geographic, among others. Now, Amalia uses her experiences across the film industry and social impact sector to bring media projects to life that exist at the intersection of social justice, education and culture, and amplify often overlooked resources, talent, and stories. She is a graduate of UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television.

D’Lo is a queer/transgender Tamil-Sri Lankan-American actor/writer/comedian whose work ranges from stand-up comedy, solo theater, plays, films and music production, to poetry and spoken word. He was part of the Emmy-nominated mini-doc series THIS IS ME and his other tv/film credits include LOOKING (HBO), TRANSPARENT (Amazon), SENSE 8 (Netflix), and BRUISING FOR BESOS. D’Lo also appears in various Buzzfeed videos, on the web series EASTSIDERS and DYKE CENTRAL and the upcoming Issa Rae/Project Greenlight-produced MINIMUM WAGE. D’Lo is currently in development on a scripted series based on his life that is set up at BTR Media and Paul Feig’s Powderkeg Media.

Non-Binary performer born and raised in Puerto Rico by actors Gerardo Ortiz and Evelyn Rosario, Victoria Ortiz (also known as Vico) was influenced by the arts from the day they were born. Once high school was over, they packed their bags and moved to Los Angeles, CA to study at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Recent credits include VIDA (Starz), AMERICAN HORROR STORY (FX), and the series THESE THEMS.

Meera Rohit Kumbhani is a theater, film, and TV actor whose credits include Netflix’s Uncorked, Netflix’s A Futile & Stupid Gesture, and series regular roles in FOX’s “Weird Loners” and  USA’s “Donny!”. She can also be seen in indie film Dave Made a Maze, as well as Shameless, Life in Pieces, The Mindy Project, The Guest Book, This is Us, an ABC pilot called Charlie Foxtrot, and more. Her theater credits include numerous Off-Broadway and regional shows including the world premieres of Ayad Akhtar’s The Who & the What and Kate Attwell’s Testmatch. She also teaches and performs live with Wet the Hippo’s Idiot Workshop. ⁣

Pia Shah wrote, starred in and produced the short film The Shower which has screened at festivals internationally including the Los Angeles Pacific Asian American Film Festival and will next be screened at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles in May 2021. She most recently started opposite Alfred Molina in Florian Zeller’s Tony award winning play THE FATHER. She played Jinky in the fully improvised indie feature film GRASS which is currently streaming on Netflix. Pia played Tanya in the Season 2 premiere episode “FOMO” of the Duplass brother HBO anthology series, ROOM 104 opposite Charlyne Yi. She has acted in television shows such as Mercy, Single Parents Grey’s Anatomy, Good Trouble, Dirty John and ITVS’ Futurestates and workshopped dozens of new plays at theaters around the country including the Geffen, Pacific Playwrights Festival and Ojai Playwrights Conference. She is currently writing a pilot based on her personal experiences as a new mother and a feature screenplay based on her immigrant parents and their American Experience.⁣

Images courtesy of Rules of the Game Production

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