Young Muslim filmmakers were given a rare opportunity to have their short films curated at the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. The Muslim Youth Voices Project steered six filmmakers through a seven-day filmmaking workshop in July of this year, and then showcased their finished product at the festival in November. The workshops were produced by Kar Yin Tham and CAAM (Center for Asian American Media).
I joined WHYY‘s associate editor Neema Roshania in a joint interview with the students about their films, just ahead of the panel discussion, which featured film instructors and members of the community.
The students were afforded a chance to work with Musa Syeed, an independent filmmaker noted for his narrative feature Valley of Saints– it won the Audience Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Syeed helped the students along the way, offering advice from storyboarding to shooting.
The general themes ranged from bullying to eating healthy; these were real life issues that these students faced on a daily basis. Their lived experiences were multidimensional, and the films existed as an unapologetic outlet for their Muslim identity and the idiosyncrasies that bind citizens together in multicultural societies.
Philadelphia Asian American Film & Filmmakers is a volunteer run nonprofit organization founded in 2008 to educate and expose the Philadelphia region to films by and about Asian Americans primarily through an annual film festival as well as year round events.