30 Years of Muslim-American History Are Recounted Through the Collective Memory of a Community in "An Act of Worship"
National Broadcast Premiere October 17 on PBS’s POV
Kicks Off Impact Campaign Aimed at Muslim Viewers to Create Counter-Narratives and to Heal From the Negative Impacts of Islamophobia
"It is at once an act of reclaiming and reinforcing, while being celebratory of the unrelenting resilience of Muslim American communities.”
—Bedatri D. Choudhary, Documentary.org
—Bedatri D. Choudhary, Documentary.org
Official Selection: Tribeca Film Festival 2022
20 September 2022, New York, New York - POV, currently celebrating its 35th anniversary season as America’s longest-running non-fiction series, is proud to present the national broadcast premiere of Pakistani-American director Nausheen Dadabhoy’s feature documentary AN ACT OF WORSHIP, a co-presentation of the Center for Asian American Media, October 17 on PBS (check local listings); and will be available to stream free until 16 November 2022 at pbs.org, and the PBS Video app. An Act of Worship introduces viewers to a diverse range of Muslim Americans as they recount the past 30 years of pivotal moments in U.S. history and policy from their own perspectives. The film weaves together observational footage of activists who came of age after 9/11, community-sourced home videos, and evocative recollections from individuals impacted by incidents of Islamophobia. The filmmaking team’s first-hand knowledge and intimate access to the Muslim community allows the participants to present honest accounts of their experiences, told in their own words.
In An Act of Worship, we meet Aber, whose father was deported when she was 16. Now, she’s a community organizer leading a sanctuary city initiative in New York. Khadega is an 18-year-old Sudanese immigrant living in Michigan. While she feels compelled to advocate for her community, she struggles to overcome society's expectations of her and find her own way. Ameena is a civil rights lawyer in California, but as a mother, she’s conflicted between caring for her three young children or sacrificing her time with them to fight for change.
Weaving together observational footage of these three women with community home videos, and evocative recollections from individuals impacted by incidents of Islamophobia, An Act of Worship opens a window into the world of Muslim Americans through collective memory.
“The film is framed through the point of view of people whose parents immigrated to the US in the 60s and 70s, people like me. Although the film initially looks like a sweeping look at Muslim life in America, it is a very personal story,” said director Nausheen Dadabhoy. “Bits and pieces of my family’s home videos are interwoven with clips that we sourced from other Muslim community members. My narration is one of the first community voices that you hear, so as much as this film is a story of my community it is also my story. I don’t think I could tell this story with this level of authenticity if I wasn’t also a part of it.”
The outcome of An Act of Worship is a counter-narrative told from the perspective of the Muslim American community. The film’s Impact Campaign aims to extend the idea of the film to allow Muslim viewers to create personal counter-narratives and begin healing from the negative impacts of Islamophobic culture, policy, and rhetoric. The campaign will consist of storytelling workshops to help viewers see their story through a lens of joy and resilience rather than trauma. Healing circles after film screenings will help viewers heal from their own incidents of Islamophobia. Workshops focused on building a community archive will allow community members to understand each other’s experiences, and empower them to be the creators of their own stories.
Upcoming screenings and workshops:
10/7 - New Hampshire Film Festival (screening)
10/8 - Brooklyn, NY (screening)
10/ 9 - Brooklyn, NY (screening and workshop on building a community archive)
10/13 - Portland Film Festival (screening and workshop)
10/15 - Los Angeles, CA (screening)
10/16 - Orange County, CA (screening followed by a storytelling workshop)
10/23 - London, England - (screening)
10/28 - Detroit, MI - (screening)
10/29 - Detroit, MI - (screening followed by a healing circle)
For information on the Impact Campaign and for updates on screenings and workshops, visit https://www.anactofworship.com/.
About the Filmmakers:
Nausheen Dadabhoy (DIRECTOR/PRODUCER), is a Pakistani-American director and cinematographer whose work spans fiction and documentary. As a cinematographer, she has lensed an Oscar-nominated live-action short film and an Emmy-winning feature documentary. Her films have screened at festivals worldwide including Sundance, TIFF, Tribeca, and Locarno, and have appeared on Netflix, Amazon, HBO, and PBS. THE GROUND BENEATH THEIR FEET (2014) — her directorial debut following two Pakistani women who were paralyzed after an earthquake — premiered at IDFA in the first appearance competition. Nausheen has been a Film Independent Project: Involve Fellow, Berlin Talents participant, Firelight Fellow, Chicken & Egg Eggcelerator Lab Fellow, newportFILM Documentary Cinematography Fellow, Soros Equality Fellow and she is currently a Pillars Artist Fellow. She was part of DOCNYC’s inaugural “40 Under 40.” Nausheen is based in NYC, LA, and Karachi, Pakistan. She received her MFA in Cinematography from the American Film Institute.
Heba Elorbany (PRODUCER) is an Egyptian-American journalist and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. Her first documentary film, LIFEHOUSE (2017), earned her a DuPont-Crichton Award. She was a researcher and assistant editor for the Oscar-nominated short documentary film ST. LOUIS SUPERMAN, and has collaborated with award-winning directors, including Lana Wilson (THE DEPARTURE, AFTER TILLER) and Smriti Mundhra (A SUITABLE GIRL). In addition to making documentary films, she produces audio stories and live shows. She’s worked on productions for the New York Times, Viacom, BBC, Gimlet Media, PRX, Radio Ambulante, and more. Heba earned her master’s degree in 2017 from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and is currently a senior producer at the Los Angeles Times.
Kristi Jacobson (PRODUCER) is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and storyteller. Some of her recent films include SOLITARY (HBO), Outstanding Investigative Documentary Emmy winner and Independent Spirit Truer Than Fiction Award nominee; Cartel Bank, a one-hour film that aired as part of the Netflix documentary series Dirty Money; Take Back the Harbor (Discovery), co-directed with Roger Ross Williams and produced by Motto Pictures; and A Place at the Table (Magnolia Pictures/Participant Media), winner of IDA’s Pare Lorentz Award, and PGA nominee for best feature.
Sofian Khan (PRODUCER) is the founder of Capital K Pictures, a New York-based production house. His work has appeared on Field of Vision, The Fader, Al Jazeera, PBS, Fusion, NBC, and The Atlantic. He is a 2016 MacArthur Documentary Grant recipient for his film THE INTERPRETERS, which was broadcast on PBS' Independent Lens in 2019. His previous film, GAUCHO DEL NORTE (2015), was a Jerome Foundation grant recipient. It aired on PBS’ America ReFramed series. He is a Sundance Creative Producing Fellow (2019) and a DOCNYC “40 Under 40” (2019).
AN ACT OF WORSHIP Credits
Director/Producer: Nausheen Dadabhoy
Producers: Heba Elorbany, Kristi Jacobson, Sofian Khan
Executive Producers: Erika Dilday, Chris White, The Meadows Foundation
Editor: Ben Garchar
Composer: Mary Kouyoumdjian
A Capital K Pictures production in association with DadaGirl Films, JustFilms, Chicken & Egg Pictures, Firelight Media
POV Episode Running Time: 90 minutes
Broadcast Premiere Date: Oct. 17, 2022
Languages: English, Arabic
For more information on AN ACT OF WORSHIP, visit:
Official Website: https://www.anactofworship.com/
Follow AN ACT OF WORSHIP on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook.
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