Writer-director Nijla Mu’min’s feature debut Jinn received Special Jury Recognition for Writing at SXSW!

This movie is both classic and contemporary and utterly original. It takes a look a black Muslim American community tand reveals our common humanity. Nijla also celebrates real life “superheroes.” The mother character, Jade, played by Luke Cage’s Simone Missick, slowly converting to Islam, wears her hijab to work – which happens to be as a tv meteorologist. She shows up on camera in her new religious garb – newsroom aghast – that’s a superhero to me.  Her daughter, dealing with sexuality, faith, art and social media with grace AND failure – another real life superhero.

Mu’min, Muslim American black female filmmaker is the writer director and she is a comer/force of nature. You. Must. See. It. It is a coming of age story but bends the genre in a great way. It is specific to that world and has contemporary resonance but is also universal in spirit – every teenage girl goes through their own version of this – pushing social and familial  and sexual and even religious boundaries.  Arguably her mother Jade (Luke Cage’s Simone MIssick) as much as her daughter Summer (Zoe Renee) has her own coming of age arc. She also serves as producer and her husband Dorian also stars in the movie. Breakout Sundance actor Kelvin Harrison, Jr also stars as Tahir, Summer’s high school classmate who she begins to see in a different light at the mosque.

The movie is semi autobiographical, this from Nijla:

Jinn is my attempt at capturing the tangible, complicated world that I know Islam to be, while examining the ways that identity and experiences impact one’s interpretation of it. I am a product of this complicated world. My father is Muslim and my mother is not, but used to be. She drinks beers, and recites an Islamic prayer before dinner. My teenage years were heavily influenced by popular culture, learned sexuality, and Islam, which all seemed like warring factions.

“I wanted to capture the universal feeling of doing something forbidden and pure at the same time. In the film, when Summer sits on her bed smiling after having sex with Tahir, these details converge. Just as the visual design captures the clash of what’s pure and forbidden, the tone of the film is fun and serious, uncomfortable and warm. I want audiences to feel Muslim’s deep laughter, to see a Muslim dance, smile, and flirt, and relate it to their own experiences. My aim is to humanize through closeness and familiarity. This is also a film about being a black girl and the sudden pain and joy that comes with that. In addition to reaching a broader audience of African American adults, women, and Muslims, we also want black girls and girls of color to be able to identify with this film, and to see themselves reflected on-screen.”

Jinn went the kickstarter route but found some fellow travelers along the way – Sundance Institute Music and Sound Design Lab Grant (a la Fruitvale Station and Beasts of the Southern Wild), recipient of Film Independent’s Fast Track Program and Panavision’s New Filmmaker Grant. 

Here’s the movie website: https://www.jinnfilm.com

Jinn premiered Sunday at the State Theatre, and screens again 2:30 p.m. March 15 at the Alamo South Lamar.

Be sure to check it out!

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