Film Grant Program

Application Reopens in April 2020

These seven films bring a diverse and unique perspective to Muslim narratives, creating a dynamic portrait of the American Muslim experience. 

1st Place Documentary – Ali Al-Arian’s “Sublime Madness”

Ali is the ambitious, but disillusioned son of a Palestinian-American activist who is falsely accused and imprisoned during America’s War on Terror. A tense conversation with his father about the cost and meaning of his activism sparks Ali’s own journey into a movement for Palestinian rights– the cause that led to his father’s persecution. 

2nd Place Documentary – Nadine Natour’s “Natour’s Grocery”

Natour’s Grocery is a portrait of Arab Muslim immigrants Gehad and Sabah Natour and the success of their popular grocery store that defies xenophobia and Islamophobia in a conservative rural town where the Civil War ended.

2nd Place Documentary – Hena Ashraf’s “The Return”

Out of guilt, a writer-director makes a film about her strained relationship with her father after he unexpectedly dies while visiting relatives in India.

1st Place Narrative – Fawzia Mirza’s “Mexistani”

It’s Zenith’s 33rd birthday and she decides to run for Alderman in Chicago under the slogan “A Mexican for Mexicans,” but has to reconcile that she may not be as Mexican as she thinks… in fact, she may be 100%…Pakistani.

2nd Place Narrative – Huda Abdul-Razzak’s “The Ocean Duck”

A granddaughter visits her ailing grandmother in a hospital during a flood, bringing back fond memories of the past – spilling over into fantastical visions in the present – as an ancient tale comes to life.

3rd Place Narrative – Aisha Jama’s “Hajjia”

On the eve of her mother’s pilgrimage to Makkah for Hajj, Najma is forced to come to terms with her mother’s mortality and her own

Special Projects – Preacher Moss’ “Love Supreme: An Anatomy of Gratitude”

A Muslim Comedy pioneer tells his experiences as an African American Muslim through the prisms of Islam, humor, music, and spirituality. Driven and inspired by the spiritual music masterpiece, “Love Supreme” by John Coltrane, Preacher Moss sets out to redefine the narrative on the words “Black, American, Muslim.”

Judges

We were honored to have an incredible lineup of judges. This includes Nia Malika Dixon, who has been in the film industry for over two decades and who recently wrote on Paul Feig’s produced mini-series “East of La Brea.” In addition, Sahar Jahani, an ISF alum served as a judge for our narrative category bringing with her experience as a writer on television shows on Hulu and Netflix 

Corrine Brinkerhoff, the executive producer of TV shows like The Good Wife and Jane the Virgin, along with award winning filmmakers Musa Syeed, ISF scholarship recipient Imran J. Khan, and ISF film grant director Iman Zawahry judged our narrative category. Award winning filmmakers and ISF alumni Justin Mashouf and Assia Boundaoui judged the documentary category. We are grateful for the hard work and dedication of the ISF Film Grant judges — thank you!series. Award winning filmmakers and ISF alumni including Li Lu and ISF film grant director Iman Zawahry judged the documentary category.

As we continue our work to empower and embolden American Muslims who are shifting and changing narratives of our community, we want to thank our donors. As we enter the 6th year of our Film Grant program, we hope to provide larger grants to more filmmakers. With your help, we can continue to help our film grant recipients build complex, nuanced, and thoughtful narratives that not only speak to our community’s struggle, but will also speak to our resilience and resistance. Please give a gift to ensure that we can continue doing this most important work.

We are dedicated to supporting Muslim filmmakers telling stories about Muslims by Muslims.  It is such a critical time for our community to be involved in changing narratives of Islam and Muslims. We encourage Muslim filmmakers to apply and please spread the word to other filmmakers. 

Since 2014, ISF has been awarding annual film grants to facilitate and support Muslims entering the world of film.  The Muslim filmmakers we support are those who intend to create artistic, engaging and positive stories about Muslims. Each year, the awards are given for two categories: narrative and documentary, and recipients receive a grant along with mentorship and networking opportunities from professionals.

Film bring life to Muslim narratives that have yet to be told by emerging Muslim filmmakers.

Asad Farooqui for his film “Bin.”  Asad’s expressed his gratitude to the ISF family: “Bin is a five year dream; one that doesn’t quite make sense, yet refuses to vanish. With this grant, it takes a step closer to becoming a reality.”

‘Hamtramck, USA’ by Razi Jafri examines the benefits and tensions of diversity through the elections of a small American town. 

‘Brooklyn, Inshallah’ by Ahmed Mansour explores the story of Khader El-Yateem, the first Arab American ever to run in a Democratic primary for an open seat on the NY City Council, registered and mobilized over 3,000 Arab & Muslim voters. 

2017 Recipients and their films

Narrative-Shireen Alihaji’s Blue Veil

Maliya struggles with her identity after her mother dies. In a post-9/11 schoolyard, she feels the pressure to hide until she discovers her mother’s record collection.

Documentary-First Place: Li Lu and Samir Chiali’s “A Town Called Victoria”

A Texas masjid was burned hours after the first travel ban took effect. Its aftermath revealed both the community’s kindness and division in these troubling times.

Documentary-Second Place: Nausheen Dadabhoy and Sofian Khan’s “An Act of Worship”

Since the election, hate crimes against Muslims have reached their highest level since 9/11 and the travel ban has singled out Muslims citizens from around the world for exclusion. ‘An Act of Worship’ is about the push back against these developments, following established civil rights organizations as well as a new generation who have been galvanized into action against the forces of Islamophobia.

Documentary-Third Place: Queen Muhammad Ali’s “Comin’ Up Short”

In a race against time to save his life, Shorty, Icecube’s ex-bodyguard, reveals his transformation, untold NWA secrets, and the attack on Islam in hiphop.  

We celebrate the successes of Muslims in the media and would like to highlight two of our recent film grant recipients, Nijla Mu’min and Justin Mashouf.

Nijla is a Sundance Fellow and is the recipient of multiple awards, including one from the Princess Grace Foundation.  Most recently, Nijla wrote a piece about her first feature film, Jinn. In her article, “As a Black Muslim Woman, Filmmaking is My Resistance,” she describes how she has been able to construct a narrative of African American Muslims in the United States, a community that has been marginalized in the larger Muslim American story.  She just finished the production of Jinn. 

In the same spirit of constructing powerful narratives of communities whose stories have been neglected, ISF film recipient Justin Mashouf produced a powerful documentary called “The Honest Struggle,” in which he profiles an African American who converts to Islam in prison.  This humanizing portrayal of Muslims provides a platform through which we can begin to recognize the nuance of Muslim lives. His film will be shown on March 4th, March 6th, March 8th, or March 11th in the Bay Area.  Tickets are available at Cinequest Film Festival. 

Both of these young scholars are paving the way for other filmmakers in the Muslim community to share the beauty of our community, to show its strength, and to show that we are an integral part of the American fabric.