5 Films By and About Muslim Americans Selected for 2023 Muslim International Film Festival

Fourteen films will screen at the festival, selected from a whopping pool of over 100 applicants. Of those films, three are from Muslim American filmmaking teams; an additional two films by Muslim Canadians will focus on a uniquely Muslim American experience.

5 Films By and About Muslim Americans Selected for 2023 Muslim International Film Festival
Muslim American creators and stories will provide one third of this year's programming at the Muslim International Film Festival.

October is approaching, and with it comes the promise of another year of the Muslim International Film Festival (MIFF). MIFF was founded in 2020 with the mission of providing a platform for “current and aspiring filmmakers, videographers, designers, creatives, media junkies and moviegoers to portray Muslim excellence on the big screen” (via “our story,” MIFF’s website). While the festival is hosted in Toronto, it provides an international platform to showcase diverse Muslim voices from the world over. The festival aims to establish a community of filmmakers, unlocking the potential for Muslim excellence to not just be an aspect of a film festival but its thriving heartbeat.

Fourteen films will screen at the festival, selected from a whopping pool of over 100 applicants. Of those films, three are from Muslim American filmmaker individuals or teams, and an additional two films by Muslim Canadians will focus on a uniquely Muslim American experience. Fann is here to break down what to expect in terms of Muslim American film and art at the 2023 Muslim International Film Festival.

“Eid Mubarak” by Mahnoor Euceph 

A privileged six-year-old Pakistani girl embarks on a mission to save her beloved pet goat from being eaten on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Azha, only to learn the meaning of sacrifice.

Since premiering earlier this year at the 18th Annual Children's Film Festival of Seattle, “Eid Mubarak” has been reaching acclaim on the festival circuit. It won three awards at the aforementioned Children’s Film Festival of Seattle, including the festival’s Audience Award for best short film. The film has also won at the New York International Children’s Film Festival (which qualifies the film for an Oscar), Singapore International Children’s Film Festival and Austin Asian American Film Festival, and has the esteemed position of closing out the 18th Tasveer Film Festival, which Fann has covered previously.

Mahnoor Euceph is a Pakistani American writer and director who immigrated to Los Angeles from Pakistan at age eight. Euceph received her Master’s of Fine Arts from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in Film and Television Production in 2021. During her MFA, she worked as Art Director on “American Eid” (2021), Disney’s first ever Muslim story. In November 2022, she participated in the Islamic Scholarship Fund’s inaugural Muslim Centered Writers’ Lab. Euceph’s work “explores the South Asian diaspora through the female gaze, seeking to decolonize the mind by empowering audiences to engage in radical self-love.”

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“Sultana” by Zaid Hassan, Sahil Rustami, Melanie An and Charlie McCollum

Razia Sultana, appointed to rule after the death of her father, must take action against a looming invasion as well as overcome the elders’ disdain for a woman in power. When a member of the palace is tasked to assassinate her, she must learn to persevere for the sake of her kingdom; the sake of her people.

“Sultana” began its festival run just over a month ago. The film premiered at the Chicago South Asian Film Festival. Along with its screening at MIFF, “Sultana” will hit the Muslim Film Festival later this fall. The film is also a finalist for the Student Los Angeles Film Awards.

The film made history earlier this year as the first Muslim senior thesis film selected for funding by USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. Three of the filmmakers — Hassan, Rustami, An — are Muslim Americans, and all four were students when the film was made.

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“Rumi” by Aisha Amin, Meetra Javed and Underhill Films

When Rumi, a budding actress, is scouted by an agent and invited to an open casting call, she comes face to face with a deeply problematic and troubling industry.

“Rumi” is the latest short from acclaimed filmmaking fellow Aisha Amin. It has been selected to screen at several festivals other than MIFF, including the Oscar-eligible Tasveer Film Festival later this fall.

Aisha Amin is a NYC-raised South Asian filmmaker and visual artist. As a director, her work expands across narrative, documentary, commercial and experimental forms to tell authentic stories built from real experiences. Her past film projects have explored and highlighted overlooked communities, particularly in her home of New York City. Aisha will complete her MFA in Directing and Writing at Columbia in Fall 2023, where she will work on feature length screenplays and TV writing (via Amin’s website).

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“Hafiz” by Gur-Inder Singh, Maheshinder Singh and Nic Altobelli

A Muslim American boxer from New Jersey vies for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team, but the public fallout from 9/11 threatens to derail his American Dream.

The Canadian Muslim Singh brothers partnered with award-nominated Canadian producer Altobelli to create this dramatic short.

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“Sweet Refuge” by Maryam Mir

“Sweet Refuge” courses a passionate Syrian baker as he spends his first Eid in the US attempting to sell the sweet he’s spent his lifetime perfecting: walnut baklava. As he roams the streets of Brooklyn, he bumps into a savvy Indian ladoo maker, who’s figured out how to appeal to one of New York’s health-conscious Brooklynites.

Award-winning Kashmiri Canadian Maryam Mir weaves a beautiful story of “immigrants, sweets, unexpected connections and how notions of belonging and home can shift and change as we move and migrate” (via Mir’s Instagram).

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The Muslim International Film Festival will take place Oct. 28 and 29 at the Toronto Meridian Arts Centre’s Lyric Theatre. Early bird prices are still available for tickets, which you can purchase at the link below.

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