Naz + Maalik: when personal secrets meet surveillance

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Being a gay boy, black, or Muslim is difficult enough in America today; to be all three is exponentially harder. In a new film, teenagers Naz and Maalik know they’re lucky to have found each other, but still don’t feel ready to come out, instead maintaining a secretive relationship…which takes the worst possible turn one day when an FBI agent thinks they’re hiding something much more ominous.

Promotional trailer below.

That’s the premise behind “Naz + Maalik,” a work in progress from Pecking Wilds LLC. Shot just a few months ago in summer 2013, the filmmakers are now looking to edit the footage into a cohesive story and get it distributed; to get the funds to accomplish that, they’ve put up a page on Kickstarter.

The page announces:

NAZ + MAALIK is as much a personal film as it is universal. Through the relationship between our two characters – and their ever-growing dilemma – the film explores our perception and reaction to surveillance, as well as our notion of right and wrong, and the desire to clearly define it.

We see NAZ + MAALIK as many things: a love letter to the grit and color of Brooklyn; a cold-eyed reflection on the effects of surveillance and the War on Terror; a film about the parallels and paradoxes of national and sexual identities; a day in the life of two lovers.

It is not a political film, but a reflection about our world today. While NAZ + MAALIK is a narrative, it is based on real people, living out their lives and facing real challenges.

Though the film so far was made “on an almost non-existent budget,” the next steps, which include editing and sound mixing, are vital to creating a coherent narrative. The section “Our Goal/Your Support” explains:

We shot NAZ + MAALIK in a way that blurs the line between documentary and fiction, using lots of improvisation and interaction with non-actors. (There were moments where passersby literally bought what our characters were selling on the streets.) Due to this rigorous production process, editing will be of utmost importance to craft a streamlined, tight knit story. In order to hire a full-time editor, cover rewards costs, and get us launched into a proper sound mix and ADR, we set our Kickstarter goal to $35,000.

With eight days to go in the campaign, they’ve raised $29,451, and as a Kickstarter campaign, it’s an all-or-nothing venture. Contributor rewards range from a heartfelt “thank you,” to posters, bags, shirts, copies of the movie, and more, to being credited as an associate or executive producer.

The movie’s producer, Margaret Katcher, told 429Magazine, “I was taken immediately by the script’s exploration of the reasons people mistrust others. Trust is obviously a big theme in any relationship, with communities being a type of relationship. We exist in a society of people with different racial, religious, and sexual identities. But there is a critical difference between diversity and acceptance. NAZ + MAALIK looks at the value of trust—and the harm of mistrust—in the context of these different relationships.”

The Kickstarter campaign, which ends on December 4, is here; the official site for the movie can be found here.

429Magazine

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Just another multi-disciplinary writer and bundle of contradictions trying to figure out how to get the most out of life, and make a living while I'm at it.

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