NAZ + MAALIK, an independent film
A decade into the War on Terror, two first-generation Muslim teens – friends, classmates, business partners, lovers – spend their Friday hustling the streets of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. While deciding whether to tell their community about their homosexuality, Naz and Maalik’s ambiguous and secretive relationship unknowingly sets an FBI agent on their trail. As the agent grows convinced that the boys are engaged in "violent radicalism,” her pursuit becomes increasingly menacing and the stakes surrounding the boys’ hapless hustling and lies grow. What began as a struggle to protect their sexual identities evolves into a crisis much larger – a fight to stay alive.
Khalid: What inspired you to produce the film?
Margaret: I was inspired to produce this particular film because I believe in Jay, the writer/ director, and in the script itself. The script drew me in because it accesses deeply important social topics, like society's framework of racial, religious, and sexual identity, without being entirely about those issues. I am a lover of creative storytelling that sparks curiosity and open-mindedness. I also believe that the right team can create meaningful, beautiful work for very little money.
Khalid: What are your expectations?
Margaret: Right now, my thoughts are directed at successfully getting the film completed. Thinking in terms of festivals and screenings and distribution happens in a different part of my brain. But when I tap into that, I imagine that this film will be attractive for festivals not only because of its social relevance, but also because it's a well-directed, psychedelic film that's fun to watch. We'd like to take it to festivals and beyond.
Khalid: Do you feel this film gives a better understanding of the level of acceptance towards LGBTQ people within the Muslim community?
Margaret: Yes, I think this film speaks to the relatively low level of acceptance of LGBTQ people within the Muslim community. The film was born out of an interest in the debate, recognizing the spectrum of acceptance that exists within the Muslim community. Much of our interest stems from the BBC report on gay Muslims. We tell a story that is familiar to some, and one that is part of the larger reality. Perhaps conversations started by the film will be more of an indicator of the level of acceptance than the film itself.