The Rochester Affiliate of Fellowship of Reconciliation presents
“The Muslims I Know“
Followed by Q&A with Director/Producer Mara Ahmed
in the Irondequoit Creek room of the new Irondequiot Library Complex, 7pm-9m on Monday, May 2nd.
At the corner of Kings Highway and Titus Avenue, enter the parking lot from King’s Highway
“The Muslims I Know“, the first of local film maker Mara Ahmed’s three films, has played to multiple audiences in venues around Rochester and also across the country since it premiered at the Dryden Theater in June of 2008. Today, “The Muslims I Know” is more relevant than ever. This is a must-see film in these socially fractured times, and we, in Rochester, are very lucky to have Director/Producer Mara Ahmed, an insightful and creative individual with a diverse background, in our community to tell the story.
In “The Muslims I Know“, Mara introduces you to members of the community who whose lives in this country are in so many ways, little different from our own. They enjoy the same parks and restaurants, attend the same schools and work in the same offices. More than that, they have the same hopes and fears, the same aspirations, and experience the same joys and sorrows. But, they are people who chose to come to this country, and to stay, and to raise their families here. These are the people who chose to be Americans.
In “The Muslims I Know”, Mara engages each member of her entourage of Muslim Americans and their friends and neighbors to introduce him or herself and tell or show us something of their lives here and now, intertwining their stories and familiar images of the local community with images of her birthplace, Lahore Pakistan, and the culture in which she has her roots. Her most recent film, “A Thin Wall“, which is currently showing in Festivals and winning awards around the world, delves more deeply into her roots, and those of her family in the partition of Pakistan from India, a an event rooted in colonial politics that has left its mark, often a very painful lesion, on nearly every family in the region.
In “The Muslims I know”, Mara interviews random members of the public. She asks them what questions they have for Muslims. Then she takes those questions back to ‘the Muslims she knows’ for answers. If you don’t know any Muslims, please join us for a delightful evening of introduction. If you are fearful in this confusing time of threats and warnings, and would like to better understand the people lost under the blanket indictment of ‘Islamophobia’, come and see what you will learn. If you are curious as to the culture from which Pakistani Americans emerge, come and get a glimpse of the history, both ancient and recent, of Islam in the Indian subcontinent.
Mara Ahmed has lived and been educated in Belgium, Pakistan and the United States. She has a Master’s in Business and Economics. For most of her life she worked in corporate finance. In 2004, Mara resigned from her job in order to devote herself to her true passion: art and film.
Mara’s artwork was exhibited at the Kinetic Gallery in 2008 and more recently at the Colacino Gallery in Rochester, NY. The shows were multi-media fusions of her collage work, photography and film work. Mara’s film training began at the Visual Studies Workshop in 2006, and later continued at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Mara’s first film, THE MUSLIMS I KNOW premiered at the Dryden Theater in 2008. It was meant to start a dialogue between American Muslims and non-Muslims. Her second film, PAKISTAN ONE ON ONE, opened at the Little Theatre in 2011. Shot entirely in Lahore, it is a broad survey of public opinion in Pakistan, about issues of interest to Americans. Both films have been broadcast on PBS, shown at film festivals, and screened on college and university campuses. A THIN WALL which was completed in April 2015 has already been screened at the Bradford Literature Festival (UK), the Third i Film Festival in San Francisco, and the Seattle South Asian Film Festival. It will be screened in London, Dublin, Brussels and Amsterdam in April. For more information about Mara’s work, please visit Neelum Films.com.
If you are wondering about Mara’s work, you can explore the media coverage from the premier of “The Muslims I Know” and listen to her discuss the film with Bob Smith on 1370 Connections.
If you yahoo the words “moderate Muslim” today you will get more than 8 million hits on the internet. This interest is the result of a post-9/11 Western world trying to make sense of Islam and its followers. The need to identify “militant jihadists” by distinguishing them from moderate Muslims has cast suspicion on all Muslims in America. Stereotypes are becoming well-entrenched. The purpose of this documentary is to break those stereotypes by showcasing Pakistani Americans and asking them questions non-Muslim Americans have framed through vox pop interviews. A secondary goal is to educate people about the basic tenets of Islam in order to highlight similarities with the Judeo-Christian tradition. ~ Bruce Acker, Assistant Director, Asian Studies, University at Buffalo
Thank you for directing and producing “The Muslims I Know.” The film does a superb job portraying the aspirations of Pakistani-Americans in the 21st century. Not surprisingly, the subjects of your film have the same goals for peace, freedom, prosperity, and security that other Americans have. Unfortunately, on top of the general post-9/11 anxiety that we all feel, Muslims have faced suspicion and fear that their words and actions will be met with prejudice and misunderstanding. We need to get to know Muslims better – as a group and as individuals among us in our schools, neighborhoods, places of work, and communities.
Review in City Newspaper:
Mara Ahmed’s interview with Bob Smith on WXXI: