Filmmakers in Solidarity

filmmaker friends, pls read and sign here if u agree. this letter addresses the complete lack of diversity in the PBS system, which is supposed to represent “public media for all.” if i see another ken burns documentary…

“A census on the entire PBS system is overdue. In addition to boards of trustees and management, what is the demographic breakdown at the top producing stations of their Executive Producers and above-the-line teams, currently and historically? Data also needs to be collected on the programmers of all stations, as they collectively influence what is seen across the US. Until the scope of the problem is made public, how can it be solved?”

The Warp & Weft – Eighth Set of Stories

4 new Warp & Weft stories today! One about the strangeness of MMXX by Noelle Mirabal-Evans, wonderful reflections in Hindi by Surbhi Dewan, a story about birding and the northern cardinal by Kay Saleem, and another about rupture and repair by Yan Lehmann. Finally, a beautiful artistic response by Sarah Sills. Listen, read, look here.

Repost from Rochester Contemporary Art Center:

Head over to maraahmedstudio.com and listen to the newest stories from The Warp & Weft archive!

MMXX: Strange Times by Noelle Evans
You know, two thousand twenty in Roman numerals is M-M X-X. Double M double X. I’ve decided to refer to this year in this way for as long as it serves me. What a year it was for the fall of the Roman Empire. Right? It just feels fitting. [Photo: Madelyn Bradt]

Just Some Thoughts by Surbhi Dewan
Two thousand and twenty. As the year comes to an end, it feels like not much was accomplished. And yet, this year will stay with us for many years to come. I still can’t believe how in March, the whole world came to a standstill. The whole world frozen in time, as all of us retreated into our homes together.

My Spark Bird by Kalsoom Saleem
A spark bird is the bird that triggers an interest in birding or bird watching. For me it was the northern cardinal. [Photo: Zidaan Aamer]

Rupture and Repair By Ian Layton
It is on those particularly still and heavy days that I sit and remember the birth of the universe. The memory contained in my every cell. My mind’s eye catches the moment when life burst forth and set us on this divine course. [Photo: Evan Zachary]

Spark Feather by Sarah Sills: An artistic response to the archive

tahar rahim in ‘the serpent’

when i first saw tahar rahim in jacques audiard’s ‘a prophet,’ i knew we had struck gold. an actor of immense power and intensity. i thought he would be all over hollywood in no time, but he wasn’t. incomprehensible. glad things are changing. he was in ‘the mauritanian,’ a role for which he’s garnered praise. but he’s even more masterful (and completely in his element) in ‘the serpent’ (netflix). a disturbing character, performed deliciously. rahim is the son of algerian immigrants from oran, who settled in the eastern part of france. with all the islamophobic, racist grotesquerie going on in france, it does the heart good to see him come into his own as one of the most charismatic actors in the world.

The Warp & Weft – Seventh Set of Stories

4 new Warp & Weft stories today, including a stunning poem by Deema Shehabi, a story in Urdu about the meaning of life by Ayesha Javed, another about the books and people that shape us by Cathy Salibian, and a look at physics and the nature of reality by Shamoun Murtza. Finally, a beautiful musical response by Tom Davis. Listen and read here.

Repost from Rochester Contemporary Art Center:

You can now experience the newest set of stories from The Warp & Weft archive at maraahmedstudio.com

At Cathedral Grove: A Treatise on Vanishing by Deema K. Shehabi
Afternoon dialects beneath a redwood canopy: two children skip ahead; their feet grind the ground, crushing ferns, tearing tenebrous skulls of leaves. They giggle, while a vanishing world lies ahead of them. The spot where the sun abandons is where the light hangs briefly beneath a shoulder blade, then spreads. [Photo: Omar F. Khorsheed]

The Purpose of Life by Ayesha Javed
We are living in strange times. Hundreds of thousands of people have left this world on account of the pandemic. Their lives were just as valuable as yours or mine. This should be a moment of deep reflection for all of us.

The Right Words by Cathy Salibian
My oldest book is a small red hardcover of David Copperfield. I was maybe twelve years old when my father reached to a shelf in his study, pulled down that book and said to me a little shyly, “I see that you like to read. Maybe you will like this. I read it when I was just a little older than you.” [Photo: Kate Kressmann-Kehoe]

If A Tree Falls In The Forest by Shamoun Murtza
I’ll start with the disclaimer that I am not a Ph.D. My formal education in Physics reached its zenith with my concentration in Applied Physics for my bachelor’s degree. But I never stopped searching for the truth about the nature of our universe. Listen at your own risk, you have been warned.

The Sound Of Falling by Tom Davis: A musical response to the archive

vaccination done

got my second dose of the pfizer vaccine at jones beach today. not a bad place to get shots:) huge parking lots, large makeshift tents, the national guard guiding traffic and making everything go smoothly, nurses giving people shots inside their cars (u never step out of ur vehicle), people looking out for u while u wait 15 min to make sure u don’t have a reaction, and then u drive away. they have the capacity to vaccinate 5000 people per day. and then there’s the atlantic ocean. grateful.

The Warp & Weft: Sixth Set of Stories

4 new Warp & Weft stories today! A story in Urdu about the joys of volunteering by Fabeha Fazal, another about the solace of seclusion by Allyson Perkins, a story about lessons learned from the #BLM uprising by Nate Baldo, and one about the congregation of community and what we can learn from queer elders by Shirly Bahar. Finally, a gorgeous dance response by María José Rodríguez-Torrado. Listen, read, watch here.

Repost from Rochester Contemporary Art Center:

Head over to maraahmedstudio.com and listen to the newest stories from The Warp & Weft archive!

My Story In My Own Words by Fabeha Fazal
I would like to share some life experiences with you that might be worth sharing. I was born in Delhi and brought up in Aligarh. My dad was a professor at Aligarh Muslim University. We were raised with the idea that life had two important goals: acquiring the highest education possible and savoring the best food.

Consolation in Isolation by Allyson Perkins
Reticent was a word my mom used to describe me. I remember she said it with ease as if it were just a matter of fact. She was speaking to my kindergarten teacher who had growing concerns about my ability to socialize. [Photo: Rebekah Ostrander]

A Moral Reckoning by Nathaniel Baldo
The ongoing Black Lives Matter uprising has helped further my recognition of the depth of structural racism and bigotry here in Rochester and across the country. I grew up in Brighton, New York, an adjacent, relatively affluent suburb. I’ve tried to take time and reflect on messages and boundaries that were taught from an early age… [Photo: Adam Eaton]

February 2020: On Fire by Shirly Bahar
February 2021 marks 1 year since we last went to the movies. Remember going to the movies – that act of coming together as an audience, a short-term congregation of community, to share the experience of spectatorship for a couple of hours. On this one year anniversary, I am reflecting back on that experience, trying to retrieve what we have taken with us, as well as left behind us, on our last night so far at the movie theater.

Nostalgia (longing) by María José Rodríguez-Torrado: A dance response to the archive

Islamic Feminisms, Alternative Lifeworlds, Decoloniality

Dear friends, next week, on April 14 at 10:25 am EST, I will be teaching U of R students an online class on ‘Islamic Feminisms, Alternative Life-worlds, Decoloniality.’ Tanya, whose class I am teaching, has been kind enough to open it up to everyone. My presentation will have some kick-ass ideas (articulated by kick-ass women like Alia Al-Saji, Saba Mahmood, and Francoise Verges). It will have stunning artwork created by POCs and video clips that will spark an interesting discussion. I am linking to some of the reading materials in comments. Pls let me know if you’d like to join us and I will send you the zoom link as soon as we have one. Hope you can make it!

Twenty Years Since 9/11: An Activist Filmmaker’s Take

Although I’ve written for the Socialist Worker, Mondoweiss, Counterpunch, Mason Street and other publications, I had never written for an academic journal before. The wonderful Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt changed all that when she asked me to be part of a segment she was curating for South Asian Review, for the upcoming 20th Anniversary of 9/11. The full print issue, with essays by Mohamad Junaid, Deepa Kumar, Maimuna Islam and myself, will be out in December.

Here is my piece, written from the perspective of an activist filmmaker and someone who tries to unpack Islamophobia. I so appreciate Reshmi’s curation (her excellent introduction is here) and her willingness to open up the conversation and hear from culture-makers. I enjoyed working on this short piece even though citations are a killer:) It’s almost 20 years since 9/11…

“I became an activist in the run-up to the war on Iraq. The Bush administration’s battle cry was transparently depraved and indifferent to facts or anti-war protests. Mainstream media became obsessed with Islam and Muslims even before the War on Terror hit its stride. They dispensed images and soundbites surreal in their exaggerated reincarnations, ripped from their political contexts, and glued to the air we were breathing. It became hard to read the news or negotiate a cultural milieu choked by anti-Muslim bigotry.” More here.