BIFF YEAR ’ROUND Spring 2022

Wednesday, April 6, 6:30 PM, 2022
Downtown Beloit Association Office
557 E. Grand Ave. Downtown Beloit


Directed by Iman Zawahry
Narrative Feature
USA | 91 min | 2021

In Jackson Heights, Queens two sisters and their fresh off the boat cousin try all the conventional ways to earn the love and respect of the matriarch of their family only to learn that life works out in the most unconventional ways.

As a filmmaker I embrace my truth in an unwavering compulsion to share my authentic story as an American Muslim woman.

American. Brown. Muslim. Woman.

That is the heart of my story. Many of the narratives we see today that are put forward are ones of the foreign Muslim voice, and do not address the American Muslim perspective. Muslim = Foreign. That’s the stereotype that is continually reinforced. I want to move away from the “typical Muslim stigma” about a hijabi woman who is stuck in traditions from which she can never escape. American.ish normalizes “others” that are perceived as different. The film is a comedic ensemble about American Muslim women living in the world of Jackson Heights Queens in New York City. It’s a coming of age story where three young women learn to balance their American identity with old world cultural expectations. The objectives of this narrative are two-fold; to increase diverse female representation off screen as well as on screen, and to share a more nuanced view of the American-Muslim experience. I rely on comedy as the device to reach audiences to deconstruct this bias and to reveal the humanity we all have in common.

I’ve devoted my life to portraying brown American Muslim woman as real human beings: people with hope and yearning; people who struggle with being true to their religion and true to themselves. My mission has always been to give the world an alternative narrative for the Muslim woman. Present day content seems to be in love with portraying us as either unwitting prisoners of our parent’s culture or hyper-sexualized, “empowered” Muslim women. Too often it seems that the characters are written to fill a diversity quota. In reality, American Muslim women are real people, with a specific American experience that deserves to be heard. We love, laugh, cry; we are, at times, strong, at other times, frail – but always…real.

Americanish Poster | Iman Zawahry, Director

Iman Zawahry, Director | AmericanishIman Zawahry

Iman Zawahry is one of the first hijabi American-Muslim filmmakers in the nation. She has worked on numerous films that have played at over 100 venues worldwide. She has worked as a producer on the feature film Paperback with Moonlight producer Adele Romanski and Sundance alum Adam Bowers.

Her short film “Tough Crowd” won an Emmy Award and qualified her as a finalist in the NBC Comedy Short Cuts to pitch a sitcom with NBC executives. She is the recipient of the coveted Princess Grace Award for her film “Undercover” and was selected as a Lincoln Center New York Film Festival Artist Academy Fellow in 2015.

Iman also collaborated with the non-profit Islamic Scholarship Fund to create the first ever American Muslim film grant where she currently serves as director. Iman works to amplify the underrepresented female voice. She wrote and directed her debut feature film Americanish with a majority female crew. She currently is a professor of film production at the University of Florida.

Film Information

Director: Iman Zawahry
Country: United States
Year: 2021
Language: English
Runtime: 91 min.
Rated: PG-13


Writer: Aizzah Fatima, Iman Zawahry
Roy Wol, Paul Seetachitt, Iman Zawahry, Aizzah Fatima
Key Cast: Aizzah Fatima, Salena Qureshi, Shenaz Treasurey, Lillete Dubey, Mohammed Amer, Godfrey, George Wendt, Kapil Talwalker, David Rasche

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Principal Cast

BIFF - Beloit International Film Festival
BIFF | Beloit International Film Festival