EXCLUSIVE: Ranging in subject matter from coronavirus lockdown to local politics inspired by AOC and the Squad, sibling revelations, winning the lottery and more, the 10 scripts that make up Hollywood’s first ever Muslim List were revealed Tuesday.
Agents, start dialing – see the full list below.
First reported last September by Deadline, The Muslim List is an initiative by The Black List, the Muslim Public Affairs Council Hollywood Bureau and Pillars Fund focusing on screenwriters who are practitioners or followers of Islam, an often dramatically underrepresented group in Tinseltown, to say the least. About 200 feature film and pilot scripts were submitted by the December 4 deadline, with evaluations conducted into early this year.
And now we have a list. Requests for the scripts themselves can be made through the Black List.
“On behalf of MPAC’s board and staff, congratulations to the 10 winners of the first-ever Black List Muslim List,” said Sue Obeidi, Director, MPAC’s Hollywood Bureau. “While not a surprise, the response to the competition was very strong,” she added.
“We were moved by the plethora of stories submitted, many of which were inspired by true events. Choosing the top ten was not easy, to say the least, but we are so proud of the final result. Many thanks to The Black List’s Franklin Leonard, Kate Hagen, and their entire team, and to Arij Mikati and the Pillars Fund team for their partnership.”
“Our inaugural Muslim List proves what we have always known to be true: Muslim writers are teeming with diverse stories that cut across genre, identity, and message,” added Arij Mikati, Managing Director of Culture Change, Pillars Fund. “We are thrilled that Hollywood has the opportunity to hear from and support these talented voices to share their narratives with the world.”
“It’s been an honor to collaborate with MPAC’s Hollywood Bureau and the Pillars Fund on the inaugural Muslim List, and I would echo what Sue and Arij have already said about both the strength of the pool of scripts and the extent to which they emphasize genre, identity, and message diversity within the broader Muslim community’s storytelling and storytellers,” Black List founder Leonard said today.
“Most excitingly for me though, they’re good stories well told, and I’d encourage everyone looking for such things to read them. Also, this is early, but Eid Mubarak.”
With that, in alphabetical order by title, below are the 10 scripts selected for the first Muslim List:
4 MONSTERS – Khurram Mozaffar – Four Monsters mixes up Hollywood’s favorite villains into one ridiculous road trip — zombies, vampires, aliens, and… Muslims?! When a virus outbreak starts turning Los Angeles residents into the undead, all evidence points to a terrorist attack. Hoping to clear their names, four friends venture into a locked down LA and discover that Hollywood has an underbelly too ridiculous to believe and yet too believable to ignore.
BLUE VEIL – Shireen Alihaji – After 9/11, Amina and her father Muhammad move to a small town to build a home and life of anonymity. This becomes virtually impossible when Muhammad wins the Lotto. Amina struggles with hiding who she is until she discovers and begins sampling her mother’s tape collection. The songs reflect her parents’ migration stories to America and serve as a roadmap to Amina’s identity.
BROOKLYN BENGALIS – Zubaira Ahmed – When the Mafia threatens to deport her imprisoned father, a Bangladeshi woman takes the household reins and works for the crime family while managing her chaotic and culturally strict home life.
CORPORAL GANDA – Idrissou Mora-Kpai – In 1951 Indochina, an African colonial soldier deserts the French army to reunite with his Vietnamese wife and son and finds himself hunted in the process.
DRUM AND VERSE – Saleem Nasir Gondal – In the Walls of Solomon, where Jinn and their magical Drum are controlled by Humans who wield the Holy Verse, life-long rebel Amal finds a path to freedom when she meets the enchanting Benazir, a mysterious Jinni with knowledge from the outside.
LADY LIBERTY – Jenna Mahmoud Bosco – Jamila, a brash and disillusioned parking enforcement officer, haphazardly decides to run for city council when her beloved immigrant community is threatened by a snazzy real estate developer with political ambitions. This story is inspired by the tenacious congresswomen of The Squad.
NAILA – Nadra Widatalla – A Black Muslim video game designer by day and prison abolitionist by night needs to quickly decide what side of capitalism she really sits on.
NOOR – Nijla Mu’min – Caught in the throes of grief following her brother’s unsolved murder outside of a Brooklyn bodega, a Black woman develops an unexpected physical connection to the Arab man who works there. A surrender to lust and a search for truth lead their worlds to collide.
ULTIMATE SUCCESS – Nabeel Arshad – Sameer Sheik, a former valedictorian — now a bitter, burnt-out adult — ends up back at his former high school teaching remedial English, but his life changes when his estranged sister and niece enter his life.
UNTITLED CHUBBY MUSLIM PROJECT – Mike Mosallam – On the verge of failing 8th grade due to a physical education requirement, Bilal, a 13-year-old Muslim boy, is forced to move into his brother’s jock-filled college party pad after their grandmother has a stroke. Bilal soon realizes he isn’t the only one who needs help, as he and his brother Mark (opposites in every way) find love and humor and heal unresolved issues relating to their parents’ recent death.
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