Salaam-alaikum all! This month’s That’s Haram! is in a text format because well, both your hosts are busy bees and also trying to rest this summer!
Seher: We took May off to recuperate from Ramadan but wanted to highlight some interesting happenings in the media world around Muslim characters and content this month.
As y’all have heard us say before, we like talking (and sometimes venting) about what we’re seeing in different pieces of media, but sometimes there just isn’t a lot of it to talk about, unfortunately.
Kori: Which isn’t to say that we don’t discuss other things on the show, obviously we’ve had episodes about a number of things like:
- Angels and Demons (and Jinn!) in media and the lack thereof from a Muslim perspective
- Angels (what are they in Islam)
- and of course Ramadan
Sometimes we also have grab-bag episodes where we both literally grab random topics and discuss them all together and that’s what’s happening this month!
Muslim List Films
First up is our reaction to the film scripts announced by the Black List, the Muslim Public Affairs Council Hollywood Bureau and Pillars Fund focusing on screenwriters who are Muslim. We’re no strangers to the Pillars Fund which supported East of La Brea, a favorite here at The Fandomentals.
In fact, one of the films on the list is from none other than Mike Mosallam about a 13-year-old boy who must move into his older brother’s jock-filled college pad. Mosallam wrote and directed Breaking Fast, also another favorite (both of which also got That’s Haram! episodes).
The films submitted (out of 200) were chosen due to their emphasis on genre, identity, and diversity within the broad Muslim community ranging from monster hunting to slice of life style stories.
Seher: All of them look great to be honest, but I’m most excited for Naila, from Nadra Widatalla which follows a Black Muslim video game designer who must decide what side of capitalism she’s on.
Also on my list is Brooklyn Bengalis from Zubaira Ahmed which is about a Bangladeshi woman who must take the household reins and work for the Mafia which threatens to get her imprisoned father deported. Finally, though again, all of these look amazing, Drum and Verse from Saleem Nasir Gondal which has Jinn!
Kori: Okay you going first took some of mine, but I am looking forward to Drum and Verse because I am an absolute SUCKER for the “fantasy” genre to begin with, and this marries it with Islam to boot. Win-win! My other most anticipated is Lady Liberty from Jenna Mahmoud Bosco because yes, give me politically dramatized Squad goals? Like, now?
We both really hope that all of the films get made! On that note, we’ve also got reactions to American Eid!
Seher: Yes! What we originally wanted to talk about but left for towards the end. This short from Aqsa Altaf follows sisters Ameena and Zainab (Z) who have immigrated to the US from Pakistan. Where Ameena is super excited for Eid at the end of Ramadan, fully comfortable wearing salwar kameez at school, and spends all her time making a tent for her and her sister, Z is the complete opposite.
Having been kicked off the dance team after taking the month off to fast (which her teammates didn’t know), she’s just trying to get used to US. The two of them are at crossroads and the majority of the film follows Ameena trying to get signatures to get days off school for Eid.
I actually can’t relate to this completely because growing up, we just turned in a form from our mosque to the school to get an excused absence. Though obviously having it be a holiday across the US (along with other religious holidays) would be really great! What’s compelling about the film is the sibling relationship and young Ameena holding onto her religion and culture. Nothing is really “resolved” at the end of the film but Ameena’s teacher and parents help make up for having to go to school and the discomfort Zainab feels.
Kori: As far as relatability goes, I’m an adult revert so can’t compare. That said, this was surprisingly poignant both with the sisters’ conflict and with how Mrs. Stone and their class responded to Ameena’s failure to secure the needed names for her petition. It’s not a super tidy package ending, but it gets the sisters far enough along that you can take the reins from there and see how they could work their way back to each other and make peace with their new lives in the US.
Seher: Sidenote, there are actually a bunch of short films that came out of Launchpad including Growing Fangs, about a half-human, half-vampire teen who has started at the vampire/monster school having a slight gay disaster which is adorable. Also there’s a Black Muslim witch which was fully unexpected and wonderful.
Next month we’ll be back in podcast format!
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