Artist to Watch: Egyptian American Filmmaker Mustafa Toby Eck Spotlights Themes of Identity and Family Dynamics

Artist to Watch: Egyptian American Filmmaker Mustafa Toby Eck Spotlights Themes of Identity and Family Dynamics

Mustafa Toby Eck is an Egyptian American filmmaker and producer whose film “All at Once,” which he wrote, directed and produced, was recognized at the Sedona International Film Festival this year. 

For the first decade of his life, Eck and his family moved all around the world before settling in Sedona, Arizona, where Eck graduated from Sedona High School in 2003. Eck’s heritage and dual identity informed his desire to become a filmmaker; he spent his summers in Egypt and the rest of the year in Sedona, living the typical small-town American lifestyle. 

After graduating and in response to 9/11, Eck sought to understand the roots of anti-American sentiments in Muslim societies, producing a documentary chronicling over a decade’s worth of travels. Regarding the personal importance of this film, he told Red Rock News, “[It] is cathartic for me in that I get to deal with reconciling my heritage. And at times when they especially seem at odds — as far as the media and certain presidential candidates are concerned — it creates a lot of inner friction.”

Eck was also a recipient of a film scholarship funded by the Islamic Scholarship Fund, which works to increase representation for American Muslims in all fields, especially in media and politics, to inform better public policy. 

Eck volunteered at Sedona when he was 18 years old and has shown four films of his own at SIFF since then. Eck explained that the film is the story of a Palestinian immigrant father and his Americanized son, saying, “His son is Americanized, and very nervous and apprehensive about seeming to be foreign or too much of an outsider. So, the film was [partly about] a battle between father and son over the menu, and what to include and what not. I would say it’s a love letter to Palestinian cuisine as well.”

His film “All At Once” was selected to screen at the Sedona International Film Festival in 2023. The film’s synopsis reads: 

“Yassar and Stephanie’s intercultural-interfaith parents are meeting for the first time. Against his wishes, Yassar’s Palestinian father prepares a delectable feast and it’s not just the food, but a questionable past that threatens to unravel the family’s relationships.”

Eck is a graduate of the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, with a Bachelor’s degree in Film and TV Production, and is currently the Senior Video Producer at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, where he produces and directs short films and interactive content for the museum, traveling around the world for his productions.

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MUSTAFA ECK 🎥 (@eckdirects) • Instagram photos and videos

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