Nijla Mu’min: Film, Identity, and ‘Noor’

Nijla Mumin

Nijla Mu’min’s Film in Progress Noor: Bringing Multidimensional Characters into the Light

Interview by Kameelah Janan Rasheed

Nijla Mu’min is a writer and filmmaker from the East Bay Area who found her “natural destination” to be filmmaking while a student at UC Berkeley. Beginning as a filmmaker focused on documentary and interventionist stories, she has now taken on narrative fiction filmmaking with her film Noor which unfolds the nuanced relationship that develops between a Palestinian man who works at a bodega and a Black woman who frequents that bodega. Regardless of whether Mu’min is crafting documentary work, shorts or feature length narrative fiction, there is an intense devotion to as she says, “[explore] overlooked issues and communities of people as well as the humanity within them”.

In 2013, Mu’min completed a dual-degree graduate of Calarts’ MFA Film Directing and Writing programs; the only student in the institute to graduate with this distinction. Her previous work, particularly her short films has been well-received and screened at festivals across the country including Pan African Film Festival, Outfest, and Newfest at Lincoln Center. A recipient of the 2012 Princess Grace Foundation Cary Grant Film Award for her thesis film, Deluge, Mu’min has had the privilege of having a world premiere of this afrofuturist film centered on narratives of Black mermaids and environmental trauma at the 4th Annual New Voices in Black Cinema Film Festival at BAMcinematek in Brooklyn. Recently selected as a Screenwriting Fellow for the 2nd Annual Sundance Institute’s Screenwriters Intensive for her script, Noor نور and winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Screenplay at the 2014 Urbanworld Film Festival, she is working steadily to produce her feature film Noor.

I sat down with Mu’min to discuss her evolution of her filmmaking career and her upcoming feature film, Noor.

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Friday Love: Deluge

Congratulations to American Muslim filmmaker and writer Nijla Mu’min on her new film Deluge! Check out the trailer below and website, here.

Nijla Mu’min is a writer and filmmaker from the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a 2007 graduate of UC Berkeley, and also attended Howard University’s MFA Film Program, where she was the recipient of the 2009 Paul Robeson Award for Best Feature Screenplay. She is a dual-degree MFA student in Film Directing and Writing at Calarts. Her short film Two Bodies has screened at festivals across the country, including the Pan African Film Festival and Newfest at Lincoln Center. Her writing appeared in The New York Times-featured book, Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women, Bitch Magazine, and on Shadow and Act. She is the recipient of the 2012 Princess Grace Award Foundation, Cary Grant Film Award for her thesis film Deluge.


A Filmi Love Story

photo by Lara Solanki

As I write this, my husband and I are hanging out over web cam in a corner of my 17” Macbook laptop. He lives in Texas, and I in California. It is a set-up we pretty much knew about before we got married, but even then much of my desktop is being taken over by a video editing timeline while we speak. This is my feeble attempt to multi-task so we can actually have some time together, uninterrupted, when I see him in two weeks.

As it is, being a filmmaker is a full-time job. In one year, however, I will be filming my first full-length feature film, a comedy called The Tiger Hunter. It’s a mainstream, commercial movie with potentially big actors, a hilarious script, interest from major distributors, and finally featuring a Muslim in a positive role. In that year, in order to succeed, I should think, breathe, and dream about my film. This, as one may guess, makes it very hard to have a normal marriage.

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