USA, 2009, 83 minutes
Sat, Apr 25 / 2:00 / PFA / NEWM25P
Sun, Apr 26 / 3:00 / Kabuki / NEWM26K
Mon, May 4 / 6:30 / Kabuki / NEWM04K
From behind the headlines on inner-city crime, clashing civilizations and the War on Terror comes filmmaker Jennifer Maytorena Taylor’s illuminating portrait of Puerto Rican Muslim Hamza Pérez, a former gang member and drug dealer turned politically outspoken hip-hop artist, anti-drug counselor, community activist, family man and devout convert to Islam. By following the gentle but determined Hamza over the course of three years—during which he and a group of roughly 60 American Muslims move from Massachusetts to found a religious community in Pittsburgh’s crime-ridden North Side—New Muslim Cool offers an intimate vantage on a new generation of Latino and African American Muslims, youth in many cases drawn by the example of Malcolm X as well as the culture of hip-hop to weave a communal identity in the interstices between differing languages, ethnic backgrounds, religious ideals and the racial and class tensions in American society post-9/11. Far from a static account, these three years hold many changes and an evolving understanding for single father Hamza, who enters a new marriage and an expanded interracial family, performs and records his music—pointed rhymes and exhortations laid over brooding beats under the band name Mujahideen Team—and finds both his Pittsburgh masjid (Muslim school) and his job as a religious speaker in the county jail subject to surveillance and challenges by suspicious federal authorities. Broaching urgent contemporary themes, New Muslim Cool is a story as inherently complex as it is strikingly American.
RELATED PANEL TRUTH, YOUTH & NEW MUSLIM COOL
RELATED CHRONICLE CHAT NEW MUSLIM COOL
Presented in association with Active Voice and the Center for Asian American Media. GGA Documentary Feature Contender. World Premiere.