By Alex Kerravala, Staff Writer
On Thursday, November 9, the Frederick Douglass Screening House was generous enough to sponsor a screening of the independent film Mooz-lum, a full length film by Qasim Basir, with the writer and director present, sharing Basir’s story and answering questions.
Basir is an American Muslim filmmaker who has been in filmmaking since 2002, and released Mooz-lum in 2010. Mooz-lum is, as Basir describes it, “a film about a kid who was raised Muslim in America and goes to college in 2001, when 9/11 happens. He also has an identity crisis.” Basir also describes it as “one of the only movies of its kind.”
It is very rare to see a movie set from a Muslim American’s perspective, and even rarer to see one during the September 11 attacks.
Of course, the movie is more than this. Whatever you want to call it it doesn’t matter; Mooz-lum is a biopic of Basir’s childhood, as he himself says. It’s his “story,” from his troubled youth following strict Muslim teachings, up to his stray from his upbringing, a loss of faith, and the prejudice against him following the September 11 attacks.
Thanks to this in depth biopic, we get a look into the portrayal of Islam never before seen in film. Where some films would portray Islam as evil, and violent by nature, Mooz-lum stays away from that; it shines a light on the positive teachings of Islam, and the love it preaches.
At the same time, however, Basir does not hesitate to show the Islamic fundamentalists that can shape one’s perception of the faith.
Basir does something completely unexpected and shows the flaws in some aspects of Islam. The film depicts Islam as a religion that preaches peace, but has extremists who speak of peace, and act in violence.
Mooz-lum holds the message that Islam is overall a loving religion, but acknowledges the extremists that give the faith such a bad name.
Basir shows the view of Muslims as rigid in America pre-9/11, and shows the transition from bad to worse in the days immediately following the attacks.
Mooz-lum is made topical, more than seven years after its release, due to the state of our nation. We have a president that demands segregation and discrimination.
We have a president that built a platform on hate, who within months of the beginning of his presidency attempts to ban Arabic immigration.
The movie is possibly more important now than ever since its release.
When asked about the importance of this film, Basir said he “cannot ask for any more action than he has already seen,” citing the powerful message the movie gives as a call to arms.
He says the message he needed to get out there, and the reaction he needed to see, have already been presented. He argues the importance of the movie has passed.
Although with the Trump making outlandish claims against Muslim Americans, perhaps another call to arms is necessary.