Since the official video trailer for the upcoming movie ‘Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football’ came out on Youtube almost six months ago, it seems that not a single person from the high school’s football program can escape the questions.
Everyone wants to know when the movie is coming out, or how they can get a copy.
|The popular trailer deftly mixes football action scenes with personal interviews about challenges of fasting while playing during Ramadan, issues of class within Dearborn, discrimination faced by the team as Arab Americans and Muslims, and more.|
Ghazi has heard the same questions about the pending debut while working in the Chicago area for Paragon Marketing Group, which helps coordinate with the ESPN network’s television broadcasts of featured high school football games.
But he wants people to know that the premiere of the film, which chronicles the story of the team, community and four of its players in detail during the week of its big rivalry game against Dearborn High School from September 11, 2009 to September 20 and the issues and challenges surrounding the local community as Arab Americans and Muslims, is not far away. After all, Ghazi, who is an American Muslim from India, has been itching to tell Fordson’s story since 2003, when ESPN.com ran a feature article on the team.
“A friend of mine called me and said, ‘Hey, you might be interested in this,’ and I took a look and thought it’d be really cool to do a documentary on the community; I thought it would be really inspiring,” he said.
Baquer Sayed, who is currently a wide receiver for the University of Michigan’s football team and played his senior season in 2009 during the filming of the movie, said he gets “pumped up” just watching the trailer and many others from Fordson feel the same way.
The popular trailer deftly mixes football action scenes with personal interviews about challenges of fasting while playing during Ramadan, issues of class within Dearborn, discrimination faced by the team as Arab Americans and Muslims, and more.
Ghazi and his associates at North Shore Films, which was created along with his wife Ruhma for the sole purposes of making ‘Fordson,’ are currently busy on the film festival circuit and working with distributors to figure out the best way for the film to reach a mass audience. The movie recently received a Special Jury Mention at the Slamdance Film Festival, in Park City, Utah for Best Documentary Film, essentially finishing second in the category. The film has been sent to five or six other festivals across the country as well.
Ghazi said that they will decide within the next 60 days on a plan, with limited theatrical runs and the possibility of national distribution being targeted along with later DVD and Video on Demand releases. He’s also considering a premiere event in Dearborn sometime between late spring and the beginning of fall.
Zaban was originally hesitant to allow the filming to begin because of the potential for it to be a distraction to his student athletes, but now that the process is complete, he believes it will ultimately be a hit.
“I think it will really be positive for the community, from the rough draft it looks like a pretty good movie and they used top quality equipment,” he said. The movie was filmed in high-definition by Ghazi and his ten-person crew.
“For the most part it was a positive experience and I hope this sheds light on what our community is all about and what they go through, just like any other community in the country, they love high school football and Arab Americans love to compete just like any other kid in the country.
“The hope is that it can send that message to as broad of a national audience as possible.”
Along with the 2003 ESPN.com article, Ghazi was also inspired by a 2000 documentary on the family lives of three inner city African American basketball players in Chicago shown on Fox Sports Net that he worked on.
“I remember getting e-mails and letters from people saying, ‘Wow, no one has ever shown a reality series with a human element about African American basketball players like this, usually they’re just superficial about life on the court and not off of it.”
Ghazi doesn’t feel as if Arab Americans and Muslims have been given a fair chance to tell, and to show, their side of the story and what it’s really like to have such an identity in America, especially in Dearborn.
“Part of what happens is that the national media always descends upon Dearborn for stories, gets one or two soundbites and then leaves,” he said. “What’s different about our story is that people are going to get a chance to come in and spend time with and learn about the families and the issues they’ve faced, just like we’ve heard in other immigrant stories.”
“It’s about Arabs and Muslims yes, but it’s more an American story and football is the vehicle to get that message across that everyone can relate to.”
The movie also has great potential as a teaching tool from an interfaith perspective. Ghazi said that churches and synagogues across the country have requested copies of the movie to screen to audiences.
Zaban hopes that some scenes are not taken out of context, however. Footage of the players reciting an Islamic prayer before the game have garnered attention by those who worry about the need for a separation between church and state in a public school.
But Zaban noted that the kids pray of their own accord and not under the direction of the coaches, and also that Dearborn High School’s players recite both Islamic and Christian prayers before games. Praying is commonplace in American sports from high school up to the pro level and it’s something that Ghazi has seen all over the country covering various high school games according to Zaban.
But few people have seen a movie like ‘Fordson: Football, Faith, and Fasting,’ which has the potential to break down many of the barriers that have been gone up in recent years surrounding Arab Americans and American Muslims.
“People on campus say, ‘You’re from Dearborn, really, what’s it like?’ said Sayed,”and I say, ‘Here’s a little preview of it,’ and show them the trailer.”
Sayed showed Michigan football teammates D.J. Williamson and Ricardo Miller along with other classmates and e-mailed the link to his Arabic teacher.
“They were basically like, man, that’s nice, it’s cool that they did something like that for you guys,” he said. “They’re really just waiting for it to come out so they can watch it like everyone else.”
For more information on the film, visit www.fordsonthemovie.com.