Indie Beat listeners — at attention. It’s that time again! On this episode, we spoke to Iman Zawahry, filmmaker and professor located in Florida. Zawahry came across our attention with her short “Tough Crowd,” made while she was attending the grad program at Florida State University. This movie follows a young female Muslim forsaking her family’s wishes for her future in order to focus on her real passion: stand up comedy. It’s a funny, insightful movie, one that manages to earn its occasional edgy, biting commentary and its deeply felt sentimentality. ‘Crowd’ went on to have a very successful life on the festival circuit, topping its lively tour with some sweet icing on the cake — a Student Emmy Award. You can watch the movie, now online.
Afterward, Zawahry won the Princess Grace Award grant and embarked on her next comedy “UnderCover.” This film follows Nada Assad, a police officer with aspirations to be a detective. A case comes her way about a pet pig gone missing, and Nada jumps at the chance to take it over, finding herself in over her head when she starts connecting the dots between the pig-napping and the town’s obsession with the local pork shop. The film proves Zawahry’s talent as a comedic director — it’s quick-witted and snappy, feeling more lived in than most network single-camera sitcoms. “UnderCover” also went on to have a healthy existence on the festival circuit, do check it out here.
With some outstanding short films under her belt, Zawahry took the plunge into feature filmmaking with the upcoming “My Cousin’s Sister’s Wedding.” Co-written with Aizza Fatima and based on her play “Dirty Paki Lingerie,” the film centers on a trio’s journeys in the big city, following their career aspirations and romantic exploits with Zawahry’s already established humor and heart. It’s a movie featuring both newcomers and many familiar faces (George Wendt, Godfrey, and Ajay Naidu pop up) and, like all of Zawahry’s work thus far, aims to show different experiences on screen while also employing the aesthetic pleasures of our favorite ’80s American comedies.
Iman Zawahry talked to us about filmography, the pressure of being both a female filmmaker and a Muslim filmmaker (and having to always talk about it), those hot ’80s movies we grew up with that are now problematic faves, and teaching burgeoning filmmakers. Click that play button hard and listen — with headphones and your very finest audio equipment — and give us positive reviews everywhere you can! And share with your friends, will ya.
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