Film Category: Second Place Documentary Film: “An Act of Worship”
Nausheen Dadabhoy (DIRECTOR, DP) is a Pakistani-American director and DP from Southern California. She received her MFA in Cinematography from the American Film Institute. Since graduating, Nausheen has lensed a number of narrative and documentary films, including A JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES (2015) with Academy Award winner Sharmeen Obaid and Geeta Gandbhir, and GIRL UNBOUND (2016), which premiered at TIFF. She also shot LA FEMME ET LE TGV (2016), a live action short film Oscar nominee. THE GROUND BENEATH THEIR FEET (2015) — her directorial debut following two Pakistani women after the 2005 earthquake — premiered at IDFA and was nominated for the OXFAM Global Justice Award.
Bio: Shireen Alihaji is a documentary filmmaker from Los Angeles covering social issues such gender equality, labor rights, environmental justice, hate crimes, services for disabled individuals, capital punishment, transportation equity, healthcare reform, human trafficking, and immigration. She grew up in the mosque as a student of the Islamic Center of Southern California and today volunteers the at Women’s Mosque of America. Shireen believes that the tradition of storytelling restores justice in affirming one’s experience and reflecting back narratives that makes spaces for others to exist.
As a child of dual-ethnic and dual-faith upbringing, she seeks to create environments that provide modes of existence for disenfranchised identities. You can read more about her work here: www.blueveilfilms.com
Bio: Sofian is the founder of Capital K Pictures— a New York-based production company focusing on documentary work. His shorts have appeared on Field of Vision, Al Jazeera, PBS, Fusion, The Atlantic and Huffington Post. He is a 2016 MacArthur Documentary Grant recipient for his film The Interpreter, currently in post-production. Sofian’s first feature, The Dickumentary (2014)— a definitive history of the penis from its evolution millions of years ago, to today— was acquired by Breaking Glass Pictures in the US, and made its festival premiere at the Atlanta Film Festival. His second feature, Gaucho del Norte (2015), was released shortly after, co-directed with producing partner Andrés Caballero. The film was a Jerome Foundation grant recipient, following South American shepherds who are recruited to work in the American west. It premiered at the 2015 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, and afterwards aired on PBS’ America ReFramed series.
Film Category: First Place Documentary Film Name: “A Town Called Victoria” Please see Samir’s acceptance speech here.
Samir Mohamed Chiali is an Algerian-American entrepreneur and filmmaker. He was born in Tlemcen, Algeria and moved with his family at an early age to New Orleans, Louisiana where he spent his formative years, before relocating to Houston, Texas in 2005 following Hurricane Katrina. Samir developed a passion for film and while working as an engineer, he founded Imagineering Films, a video production company in Houston. Besides commercial work, he is working on “A Town Called Victoria”, a documentary that covers the tragic event of the burning on the Victoria Islamic Center in Victoria, TX.
Film Category: First Place Documentary Film: “A Town Called Victoria” Please see Li’s acceptance speech here.
Li Lu is an award-winning filmmaker living in Los Angeles, CA. She was born in Suzhou, China, and her family moved to the United States when she was five. Raised on all three coasts and graduating high school in Sugar Land, TX, Li received her BA from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. “There Is a New World Somewhere”, her debut feature, won three “Best Feature” awards and was distributed theatrically and on demand in 2016. Her work has been profiled in the New York Times, IndieWIRE, Bitch Magazine, and IMDb. A maker of both fiction and documentary films, she is focused on work that creates a positive social impact and defies stereotypes by expanding the representation of minorities.
FilmCategory: Third Place Documentary Film: “Comin’ Up Short” Please see Queen’s acceptance speech here.
Queen Muhammad Ali is a film director, multimedia activist, public speaker, visual anthropologist, television and film producer. Before she began directing films, Queen worked as an elementary grade teacher for a private school in Southern California. Her interest in education led her to film-making. She has produced for MGM Television, Showtime, Univision Television, MTV, and VH1. Her work has also been featured in Ebony Magazine, LAWeekly, Huffington Post, KTLA News Los Angeles, Washington Post, and NY Daily News. Queen has directed films in 7 countries, lectured and screened at several universities and museums including Arizona State University, Museum of Modern Arts (MoMA NY) Denver Metropolitan College, Glendale community College, University of Arizona, Wayne State University, Long Beach State University and the Confucius Institute in Beijing China. She is also the recipient of several distinguished awards.
A founding member of the nationally distributed magazine, Nation19, Queen published the magazine to raise awareness on Hip Hop advocacy and historic inaccuracies affecting indigenous and black communities. Nation19 reaches millions of people worldwide on Facebook and Instagram daily.
Queen’s name is not by accident. Her Great Grandfather is Paramount Chief (King) Tuli Le’iato of American Samoa whose letters to President Kennedy are on display at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
Bio: Sahar Jahani is a first generation Iranian-American screenwriter and producer raised in the San Fernando Valley. She first gained interest in media and representation after interning for the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Hollywood Bureau, where she consulted on Disney’s Prince of Persia. Sahar earned a BA in Film & Media Studies and Literary Journalism from UC Irvine and is pursuing a MFA in Film and Television Screenwriting at Stephens College, a program focused on increasing the voices and impact of women in television and film. After graduating from UC Irvine, she began working in digital production at YouTube Space LA. She currently works as a Creative Coordinator for YouTube Red Originals and was recently selected as one of the writing fellows for the 25th Annual Project Involve Program with Film Independent.
Muhammed Fazeel is one of the founding members of MPlus, a youtube channel dedicated to showcase the diversity of Muslims through the similarities they have with the community. The first series M+Food is focused on exploring halal restaurants and hearing about the owner’s stories. The second series is M+Humanity, a show that highlights Muslims making a positive impact in society.
He is also the founder of Benecure, a company that assists patients suffering from chronic conditions by using smart devices and gamification. His work has been published in Forbes, The Chicago Sun Times, Chicago Tribune, and featured on CCTV America among others. Additionally, he has spoken at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, TEDxIIT, World Islamic Economic and Finance Forum, the American Islamic and Economic Finance Conference, North American Professionals & Entrepreneurs Council Conference, and several university forums. He is also a World Economic Forum Global Shaper.
Muhammed is passionate about food, highlighting diversity and helping folks solve challenging problems that affect large segments of the population. He is an alumnus from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.
Akram Shibly is a young Syrian-American filmmaker born and raised in Buffalo, NY. He started writing poetry and creating films when he was only eleven years old. He earned a degree in Digital Media Production and Philosophy from the University at Buffalo with Great Distinction. After spending hundreds of hours volunteering as a production coordinator for WNYMuslims.org, he established his own production company, True Intent Productions, LLC, with a mission is to serve humanity through enlightening and entertaining films. He was selected as a young leader and mentor for MPAC’s Hollywood Summit and his films have been honored in festivals worldwide. Most recently, his film Waiting at the Door was awarded the Grand Jury Prize at the SUNYWide film festival, and has been utilized by Google and YouTube for Good to demonstrate the potential of film as a tool for activism. His independently produced work has been featured on The Huffington Post and several other nationwide publications. When is not busy making films, Akram continues to perform spoken word poetry and leads a coalition of Muslim organizations dedicated to serving refugees in Western New York.
Li Lu is an award-winning filmmaker in Los Angeles, CA. She was born in Suzhou, China, and her family moved to the United States when she was five. Raised on all three coasts and graduating high school in Sugar Land, TX, Li received her BA from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. “There Is a New World Somewhere”, her debut feature film, won three “Best Feature” awards at film festivals and was distributed theatrically and on demand in 2016. Her teleplay “Razorhurst” won the Skyway Film Festival’s Grand Jury Award for Best Teleplay, and her work has been profiled in the New York Times, IndieWIRE, Bitch Magazine, IMDb, and Flavorwire. A maker of both fiction and documentary films, she is focused on work that creates a positive social impact and defies stereotypes by expanding the representation of underrepresented minorities. You can view her work at www.ulil-lilu.com