CC ISSUE: OCT 2011 Last updated: Oct 4, 2011
Fordson: Faith, fasting, football
Faith, fasting, and football may seem like an unlikely combination, but for the three Chicago Muslims behind a film which premiered on September 9. Fordson highlighted a remarkable story about one Muslim community and the American Dream.
Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football and the American Dream is a documentary made by filmmakers Rashid Ghazi, an ESPN consultant, Emmy Award-winning CNN veteran Ash-har Quraishi, and award-winning documentary producer Basma Babar-Quraishi. After winning the Special Jury Prize at the Slamdance Film Festival, Fordson received the Grand Jury Award for Best U.S. Documentary at the Traverse City Film Festival in Michigan in July among other awards.
The film profiles the struggle of four Arab-American, Muslim football players at Fordson High School in Dearborn, Michigan as they practice for a major senior year rivalry game while fasting in the month of Ramadan.
“What’s more American than football?” asked Babar-Quraishi in an interview with the Chicago Crescent. “There is something unexpected and wonderful about a bunch of Arab-Americans playing football with the kind of passion and intensity that these kids do. There is something so distinctly American about it, that we knew we had the makings of a truly heartwarming story.”
Since the early 1990s, football has been the most popular sport in the United States, edging out what is often referred to as the country’s “national pastime”, baseball. Dearborn has the highest concentration of Arabs outside of the Middle East. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, over 33 percent of the city’s population is of Arab ancestry.
“As a lifelong football fan, I knew that the Fordson High School football team could serve as a great conduit for everyday Arab-American Muslims to share their homes, values, aspirations, and opinions with their fellow citizens and also allow us to discuss important issues related to politics, religion, racism, and the American Dream,” said Ghazi.
The documentary was filmed during Ramadan 2009, which was difficult for Ghazi, Quraishi, and Babar-Quraishi, who were also fasting as they worked 16-hour days.
“When we were on the sidelines shooting and watching these young men practice in the midday heat on turf, which made it feel even warmer, we couldn’t help but be inspired by them,” said Quraishi “If they could perform in those conditions wearing helmets and pads, running and hitting for hours at a time – shooting and producing this film was nothing in comparison. I think personally, I took strength in witnessing what they were going through and accomplishing on the field while still fasting.”
The filmmakers also noted the ability of the young Muslims featured to be proud of both their faith and their country with ease and confidence.
“Over the course of filming, we met hundreds of wonderful, dynamic people, and I was struck by how seamlessly they combined their rich heritage and faith with their American birthright,” noted Babar-Quraishi. “I hope that young viewers will come away with a sense of confidence and pride in their identities as both Americans and Muslims, because this is their story.”
But Ghazi, Babar-Quraishi, and Quraishi all emphasized that Fordson is not just a film by Muslims for Muslims.
“Most documentaries that have Islam as a theme only appeal to Muslims and people specifically
interested in inter-faith,” said Ghazi. “I felt the football theme would open a window to a possibly wider audience.”
“Our goal was to give viewers an unprecedented glimpse inside an immigrant community that is as American as any other and which shares the same values, ideas, hopes and dreams as any other,” added Babar-Quraishi.
For more information, please visit www.fordsonthemovie.com