American Muslim Storytellers

If you believe American Muslims should have a powerful voice, donate!

If you want to tell your American Muslim story, apply!

Since the early days of Trump’s campaign, the American Muslim narrative has been dominated by Islamophobia and fearful attack speech. It is critical for us to celebrate and uplift the diverse voices and narratives of Muslims living in our country.

The money raised through the Indiegogo campaign is administered by the Islamic Scholarship Fund and gives $1-4k each for videos that tell the American Muslim story in a way that humanizes and challenges negative portrayals of our community.

Application Deadline: Friday, Feb 24 11:59pm PST
Rolling application, so APPLY EARLY!!

Update: Stretch Goal: $50,000

WOW! We are blown away by the response to this crowdfunding campaign. We keep getting messages from American Muslim filmmakers about how touched they are that people have come together in support and solidarity. We’ve also been featured in the Washington PostMic, and Huffington Post.

The next Muslim Ban is coming out soon, and we’re upping our goal to $50,000. The world needs more stories from the Muslim people in our country.

This new goal will allow us to give grants to more filmmakers and also put at least $10k into the Islamic Scholarship Fund’s yearly grant, which supports Muslim filmmakers in the long term.

Dollars will go directly to storytellers, providing tremendous leverage and turning your money into media.

Please share and tell the world!

Criteria

  • Short films or projects involving video that celebrate or articulate the American-Muslim experience in the U.S.
  • Preference given to projects that will be released before July
  • Preference given to projects created by Muslim-Americans

We will consider your past projects for artistic skill and internet engagement, but we will be funding new, less established creators as well as professionals. If you have a story to tell, apply to us!

For questions on the application & donations, contact the Islamic Scholarship Fund.
For questions on partnerships & distribution, contact [email protected]

Details

  • Grant is open to all ages
  • Only one submission per applicant
  • Grant amount will be determined based on your proposal. We may award less than $1k and more than $4k for some projects
  • The grant is a rolling application, so apply early!
  • Grant money will be given in three stages: 50% on approval of project, 25% on submission of first rough cut, and 25% on project release
  • Additional judges may be added over the course of the grant disbursement period.
  • Grant amount will be determined by judges based on merit
  • Grants will be given on a rolling basis, some even before the application deadline.

Additional Support

A team of filmmakers will provide mentorship and help you produce and script your films at the highest quality, assist you in finding pro-bono resources, volunteer to partake in your production, and spread the word about your films once you’re made them. We’ll do what we can to help.

So far, the team includes cinematographers Dagmar Weaver-Madsen and Autumn Moran, cinematographer/editor Cameron Marshad, director Olivia Newman, director/producer Michael Morgenstern, and colorist / motion graphics artist A.J. Russo.

About this Project

After news of Trump’s Muslim ban reverberated across the nation, a group of American Muslims and allies came up with the idea of raising money to support American Muslim storytellers as a way to stand up to the anger and fear-based oppression this community is facing. A large community quickly rallied around the idea, partnering with the Islamic Scholarship Fund (ISF), a nonprofit 501(c)(3) which mission is to increase American Muslim representation in media and politics by empowering students through academic scholarships, film grants, congressional internships and youth workshops.

We hope that you can be involved in telling these stories.

Thanks to Michael Morgenstern for originating the idea, Somayeh Nikooei for executing the partnership so quickly, Chris London, Lynn Tao, and Joytika Jit for building the campaign, Rhym Guisse for the voiceover, and so many others for getting the word out and giving your support.

The Judges

Lexi Alexander – ISF Film Grant Judge
Born in Mannheim, Germany to a Palestinian father and German mother, Lexi Alexander, a former World Kickboxing Champion, worked her way up from stunt woman to Oscar-nominated director with her live action short film Johnny Flynton. She has helmed feature films including the SXSW Jury & Audience Award winning drama Green Street Hooligans. She directed an episode of the CW’s hit show Arrow and CBS’ Supergirl and Limitless. Alexander is currently working on several projects for the big screen about the tragic real-life story of Chris Benoit and a biopic called Crossface.

Dana Harris – Editor in Chief, Indiewire
With more than 20 years of experience, Dana is one of the most familiar voices in entertainment journalism. Prior to joining Indiewire in 2011, Dana held editorial positions of increasing responsibility over 11 years at Variety, where she covered the entertainment industry in addition to launching Variety Life and serving as the editor of Variety.com.

Justin Mashouf – ISF Film Grant, First Recipient
Justin Mashouf is a four-time Emmy winning filmmaker and artist. His 2008 feature documentary Warring Factions, on breakdancers and the rift between the US and Iran, has received over 20,000 digital downloads internationally. His 2011 short, Spring Movements, is a dance film dedicated to the Arab Spring uprisings throughout the Middle East and North Africa. His 2017 feature documentary The Honest Struggle is the story of a Muslim convert ex-offender and his journey re-entering society in Chicago after being incarcerated for over 25 years.

Caroline von Kuhn – Director of Artist Development, San Francisco Film Society
Caroline von Kühn is one of the founders of the Points North Institute. Von Kühn is also the producer of Burn Country, a Tribeca Film Festival prizewinner and SF Film Society-supported feature film starring Dominic Rains, Melissa Leo and James Franco. Von Kühn was a 2016 IFP Cannes Producers Network Fellow, and received her BA in Financial Economics from University of Virginia and an MFA from University of Manchester (UK).

Iman Zawahry, ISF Film Scholarship Recipient and Film Grant Director
Iman Zawahry’s films have been shown in 100 venues worldwide. Her film Tough Crowd won an Student Emmy Award and was a finalist in the NBC Comedy Short Cuts. Iman was also a recipient of the coveted Princess Grace Award. Iman also collaborated with the Islamic Scholarship Fund, to create the first-ever American Muslim grant launched in 2014. She is currently writing a feature with critically acclaimed theater actress, Aizzah Fatima, and teaches production at the University of Florida College of Journalism.

Michael Morgenstern – Grant Founder, Film Director
Michael creates narrative films, commercials, and VR experiences. His two shorts have been featured in over 70 film festivals. He also created a fire safety video in December in response to the Oakland warehouse fire. Michael started Nametag Day, a citywide event that distributed nametags to over 15,000 New Yorkers, and coordinated international operations for nonprofit FilmAid International. His work has been covered in The New York Times, TIME Magazine, AM New York, and CBS. He is currently adapting a story into a week-long interactive experience + feature film.

Zainab Khan – ISF Scholarship Recipient
Zainab graduated in 2016. She founded Mozzified and is working for AJ+ as a YouTube strategist. She was born in Peshawar, Pakistan and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, IL. Zainab serves as a freelance cultural commentator for several American-Muslim publications, as a monthly columnist for Altmuslim at Patheos, and is the Head Writer and Marketing Assistant at AQL Online. Her work has also appeared in publications like The Feminist Wire, The Islamic Monthly, and AltMuslimah.

Faroukh Virani – ISF Scholarship Recipient
Faroukh Virani is a Los Angeles-based director and editor who has completed studies in Film Production at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts (MFA) and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts (BFA). Faroukh’s USC graduate thesis short VIMANA has played in multiple international festivals and recently won award for Best Drama at USC’s First Film showcase and was one of 25 films featured in PBS’s 2015 Online Film Festival. He is also involved in post-production as an Assistant Editor on CW’s iZombie.

Khalilah Waajid – ISF Grant Recipient
Z.Khalilah won the 2012 Georgia State University Jury Film Award for Into The Mirror, a project she started as a senior in high school. She was accepted into one of the nation’s top film schools, Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television in Los Angeles. As a Dean’s Fellow she is currently pursuing her Masters of Fine Arts and is set to graduate in 2018. Her latest documentary, Undiscovered Princess, explores the importance of cultural and self-identity for a child and is set to debut in 2016.

Imran Javed Khan – ISF Scholarship Recipient
Imran J. Khan has spent the better part of a decade creating Muslim-related online viral videos. After completing his degree in Biological Systems Engineering from the University of California at Davis, Imran worked for a number of years in the medical device industry before deciding to pursue filmmaking, his true passion, full time. Imran J. Khan is currently pursuing a masters in fine arts concentrating in film production from New York University. Imran hopes to explore the Muslim American experience through film in hopes of building bridges of understanding to mainstream America.

Rhym Guisse – Actress, Activist
Rhym was born in Annaba, Algeria, to a Malian father and Algerian mother.  A true artist, Rhym continues to effortlessly float between the disciplines of acting, music and art.  She started working with a singing coach to fine-tune her melodic voice after wrapping up the film Deer Crossing with Ernie Hudson, Christopher Mann and Doug Bradley. Between photo shoots, filming and auditioning, Rhym stays involved in the community through the non-profit organization FeelGood World.  ​