Muslim Americans say they often feel like strangers in their own country, and the struggle to overcome stereotypes became more complicated after 9/11.
So when given the chance to tell their stories, more than 100 young Muslim American filmmakers poured their creative energies into producing four- to five-minute films about Islam and its followers for an online competition. Winners are being announced today.
More than 18,000 people voted online for six finalists in six categories. A celebrity panel of judges, including former basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, actor Danny Glover and Mariane Pearl, wife of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, selected winners in the six categories, who receive $5,000 each. There will be one $20,000 grand prize winner.
"Film is one way, one avenue, in which we can change the perception of men, women and children who share the Islamic faith," Glover says. "I found what I saw to be both insightful and informative, and I was really moved by it."
Many of the filmmakers relied on humor and some good-natured self-ribbing, but in the end, the message was clear: Muslim Americans are, above all, Americans.
The winning films can be seen at www.linktv.org/onenation/films/finalists. (MORE)