"MOOZ-lum" depicts challenges for black US Muslims

Wed Sep 22, 2010 8:07am EDT
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By Sabrina Ford

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The makers of a new movie about family life for black Muslims in America want to highlight challenges facing followers of Islam, just as Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" revealed the racism and harsh realities facing black youth in Brooklyn two decades ago.

"MOOZ-lum" was filmed in Michigan, which has a large Muslim population, and premiered to packed theaters at the Urbanworld Film Festival in New York on Friday.

"I hope people can walk out of the theater thinking more and trying to understand what we're facing here," said director Qasim Basir, adding the movie's portrayal of discrimination mirrored his own Muslim-American experience.

Basir said a lack of cinematic depictions of Muslim Americans also inspired him to make the movie.

"I'm hoping to give Muslim-Americans a film that reflects them. I want it to be something the audience can look at and say, 'This represents me,'" he told Reuters in an interview.

The movie, which has yet to find a distributor and so is not in commercial cinematic release, emerges amid a heated dispute over a planned Muslim cultural center in New York.

Organizers of the center, which would be two blocks from the World Trade Center site and will include a prayer room, say it is meant to build bridges. Critics say the proposed location is insensitive to victims of the September 11 attacks and should be changed.

Urbanworld founder Stacy Spikes said the buzz surrounding "MOOZ-lum" had been helped by the debate.   Continued...