For his directorial debut, writer-director Jay Dockendorf tackled explosive material that drew attention and acclaim after it premiered at last year’s SXSW Film Festival.
Set during a single hectic day in Brooklyn, “Naz & Maalik” centers on two closeted Muslim teens (newcomer Kerwin Johnson, Jr. and Curtis Cook, Jr.) being surveilled by the FBI due to their religion, while engaging in two-bit schemes around town. Dockendorf, who won Tribeca Film Institute’s IWC Filmmaker Award for the project, was inspired to make his debut feature after hearing about (and being appalled by) the FBI’s program of secret spying on mosques in Brooklyn. His story emerged from interviewing Muslims about their real-life experiences with surveillance, including some closeted men.
A former Project of the Week winner on Indiewire, “Naz & Maalik” strikes a timely note and heralds the arrival of a filmmaker willing to push buttons to get important stories out to the public. Watch an exclusive featurette above to learn more about the project.