There are films that we'll see this weekend just for sheer entertainment value, but Qasim Basir's "MOOZ-lum", is more than a film it's a movement. On the surface it's a dramatic well-written film about Tariq, a young man struggling with defining religion for himself. He is Muslim and the lessons he's learned at the hands of his religious teachers, including his father, bring him nothing but pain.
Underneath that story is a message--without being "preachy"--concerning the demonizing of one religion, one set of people, based on the actions of a few. And looking even beyond that message , you'll see a movement of diverse people, nationally and internationally, that have used the internet and grassroots efforts to not only get "MOOZ-lum" into theaters in 10 select cities this weekend, but are also working to getting it in theaters throughout the world.
Casted well with impressive performances by Evan Ross, Roger Guenveur Smith, Nia Long, Dorian Missick, and Danny Glover, "MOOZ-lum" is based on the life experiences of Qasim Basir, the director and writer. It's set in Michigan, Basir's home state, and uses flashbacks to tell his moving story. And yes, Basir is Muslim.
But no matter your religious beliefs, it's a relatable story and will make you question just why do you believe what you do. Such a timeless and timely story is ironic considering America's own challenge in defining for ourselves the difference between a Muslim and a terrorist. The two are NOT synonymous. And as audiences experience the tragedy of 9-11 from Tariq's (Evan Ross) perspective, a Muslim perspective, some may be reminded of past shameful moments in America's own history which go too often unspoken.
If you're clueless to what I'm referring to Google "Japanese American Internment" "1942" or since it's Black History Month try "Black Wall Street" "May 31, 1921." Terrorists come in all shapes, sizes, races, and religious affiliations yet ironically groups like the Klu Klux Klan were never labeled that way. Ponder that! I digress...
MOOZ-lum's PERSONAL IMPACT
What makes "MOOZ-lum" important too is its exploration of how do you be true to yourself when it could dramatically effect your family, friends, and finances? Seeing Tariq's mother (Nia Long) and Professor Jamal (Dorian Missick) face this challenge also makes this a film about individuality.
In the interview below, "MOOZ-lum" producer, Dana Offenbach, says staying to true to what she believed motivated her to help Basir bring this film to life. Listen also to how they chose the great cast and overcame the obstacles to see it OPEN THIS WEEKEND IN 10 SELECT CITIES.
VISIT "MOOZ-lum's" FACEBOOK FAN PAGE to see if it's playing in your city and LIKE THE PAGE! Join the movement to get "MOOZ-lum" to more screens nationwide. Tweet it, Facebook it, blog it, email it, and tell your friends about the very necessary imagery and messages in it. And after you see it, I'd love to get your feedback here on the blog!