It was a red carpet and black-tie event Thursday night at Dearborn's AMC Fairlane theater. Media, invited guests and stars of the film gathered to watch the sneak preview of Fordson: Faith Fasting Football before its premiere to the public on Friday.
A red carpet was set up in the back entrance of the theater while people stood in line waiting to get the first look at the highly anticipated Dearborn-based film. It was a Hollywood-like feel with flashing camera lights, glamorous gowns and refreshments. The filmmakers also were in attendance and repeatedly thanked the community for its support.
“The community’s been there since day one, and tonight’s been a celebration and culmination for the community,” said Rashid Ghazi, director and executive producer of the film.
Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football follows the lives of several football players at the Dearborn high school as they work to achieve their goals–pro football, college and more–as Muslim Arab-Americans. The documentary sheds light on a post-9/11 Dearborn, from grappling with negative portrayals in the media to the truly American dreams of its residents.
Ghazi, the film's primary creator, , just after the film's completion, about his hopes for the movie. At the time, he said he didn't know how or when it would make it to mainstream theaters.
But on Friday, the Fordson film will premiere in 18 theatres across the country after already gaining critical acclaim at several national film festivals this year. Ghazi said that he never imagined the film would receive so much recognition.
“I thought we had something special in terms of the content when we came out and shot,” Ghazi said. “But to think we’d win Michael Moore’s festival and AMC would take the film and Hillary Clinton would talk about the film, you can’t project that stuff or even pretend that’s going to happen.”
At Thursday's sneak preview, just about every seat in the auditorium was filled. As the current Fordson football players entered the room, they were greeted by cheers and applause. They were joined by former Fordson Principal Imad Fadlallah, local friends and family, and several stars of the film. Soon after, Producer Ash-har Quraishi set the mood for what the audience was about to see.
“We wanted to tell this story–and this story has been told a lot of times by news outlets and newspapers,” Quraishi said. “I don’t think it’s ever been told in the way you’re going to see it.
“It’s something about you but it’s really something that’s been eye-opening to people who don’t understand what it’s like to grow up in Dearborn, Michigan,” he added.
Bilal Abu-Omarah–one of the stars of the film and a running back on Fordson’s 2009 team–said he hopes this movie will allow people who are not Muslim to see Muslim Americans from a different angle.
“It’s going to send a great message Insha’ Allah (god willing) that we’re not who they think we are,” Abu-Omarah said. “That we’re average Americans who live an average American life trying to live the American Dream. We’re just Muslim and we live in Dearborn.”
AMC Fairlane will be showing the movie all day Friday from 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. The film will remain in theatres until Sept. 15. For showtimes, visit the theater's website.