Review: Alhamdu and Exclusive Interview with Creative Director Sumer Zuberi

Year: 2021

Runtime: 4 minutes 38 seconds

Director: Abbas Rattani

By Joan Amenn

An incredible vision has been unleashed on YouTube and it is the result of a brilliant collaboration by a group known as the Mipsterz. Iwas honored to speak to one of their Creative Directors, Sumer Zuberi, in anticipation of the release of their new short film, “Alhamdu” (2021).  It is a joyous celebration of Muslim culture and its premiere is timed with the ending of Ramadan ending this week.

“Muslim Futurism” is how the Mipsterz describe their film but there is no dark dystopia to be seen anywhere. As Sumer described it to me, the Mipsterz wanted their film to show all the diversity of the Muslim people living together peacefully in the future. Specifically, this blending of nationalities can be seen in the costume designs the cast of the film wear. As they walk through the streets of New York or the deserts of California, they can be seen in street fashion combined with traditional components of Muslim clothing for a unique sense of what the future could look like.

Part fashion shoot, part music video but with a much deeper message, “Alhamdu” actually started with its title song, “Alhamdulillah” which became the inspiration for the film. As Director Abbas Rattani describes it, “…if we [the Muslim community] took over a world or in a postapocalyptic United States where we had to reinhabit, what would it look like?” After seeing “Alhamdu” it seems that there would be a deep respect and appreciation for individuals in all their variety of ethnicity and religious faith. This positive affirmation of peaceful coexistence is amplified by subtitles in the film. For example, one reads, “What is coming is better than what has gone by.”

As I said to Sumer Zuberi, let’s back up just a bit and define what the Mipsterz are. As she explained, “There is this stereotype in the Muslim community that there are Muslim engineers and Muslim doctors…” but there was no place for Muslim creatives. The Mipsterz became a loosely organized group for Muslim artists, musicians, etc. and the name is derived from Muslim and “Hipster” as a kind of self-own that they defied other categorization. Since 2012, the group has grown dramatically and has collaborated on many artistic projects.

As Sumer brought to my attention, there were many women who worked on “Alhamdu.” Of course, as Creative Director she was one of them but she also assisted in color correction since she works in post-production. She said, “When I was starting in my twenties, I was the only women working in my job… I was the only Muslim woman…This is the most collaborative project I have ever worked on.” Indeed, it is remarkable that the film credits women Producers, Executive Producers and an Art Director, Sara Alfageeh who is already a successful artist in her own right. There was even a woman Director of Photography, Mariam Dwedar, shooting for the New York film unit. The cast literally consists of approximately one hundred people, so I did not include them here but the Mipsterz YouTube page cites them all. “Alhamdu” is a gloriously tempting nibble of what the Mipsterz could do with even greater resources to support the incredible talent they have onboard. They promise more visual delights are in the works and we look forward to seeing and hearing much more from them.

“Alhamdu” can be seen on YouTube at the Mipsterz channel and on Instagram  at mipsterzofficial.

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