6Qs with Director Eyad Zahra //
Director Eyad Zahra might spend most of his time behind the scenes but he’s ahead of the game when it comes to having an eye for a good story and exciting opportunities. He tells FEN about his approach to filming The Taqwacores, which is the Official Selection of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, and how he got involved with Salaam MTV.
Now playing: “Kuj” by Noble Drew
Favorite dessert: PPP’s Apple Pie
Superman or Batman: Batman (from the animated series)
1. What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
I wanted to tell motion pictures stories that I felt were missing from the world. Being an Arab-American kid in suburbia Cleveland felt very weird to me. I never felt comfortable in my own shoes. Outside or inside my home. I felt compelled to tell stories that would ground myself better in this world, and hopefully help others like me. As far as working with the medium of film itself, that is unexplainable. There has always been something that has drawn me into the craft of filmmaking.
2. What excited you the most about filming Taqwacores?
We made an unapologetic film about being an American Muslim in today’s world. We did not allow anybody to censor us, nor did we censor ourselves. Working with that kind of freedom makes things as exciting as they can get.
3. Of all the projects you’ve done, what’s your favorite?
The Taqwacores for sure. I grew a lot by making this movie. I am forever indebted to the cast and crew who helped in the making of this picture.
4. We know you’re busy with Taqwacores in post-production–anything new in the works?
Always a few things in the works, but nothing seriously in motion as of yet.
5. Based on your personal experience, what message would you give to aspiring Arab-American artists?
Don’t put off your art. Do it right now. And keep doing it.
6. How’d you get involved with Salaam MTV?
Distance from the Sun won a student award in Dubai and my prize was a month long internship at Showtime Arabia. When I got to Showtime Arabia they were starting up Salaam MTV, and I worked on their pilot episode. When I moved back to LA, they had me produce segments for them from the States. It was a blast. I met a lot of great up and coming Arab-American artists through the show.
About the Author: From the Midwest to the Middle East and back, Rami Mikati spends much of his time advocating for a more just world, often using art – hip hop, comedy, spoken word poetry, and film – as a medium to raise awareness. Rami believes the best way to generate compassion for a people is to humanize a people, and the best way to humanize a people is through art. He is a graduate student studying biological sciences at Kent State University, in his hometown of Kent, Ohio.