While I primarily see myself as a writer, filmmaking remains a major way for me to disseminate new ideas to audiences around the world. I have completed work on two documentary films. The first is Dollars and Dreams: West Africans in New York (2007), directed by Jeremy Rocklin and co-produced by Abdel Kader Ouedraogo. I was featured in the film and later joined as editorial adviser. My role as editor was no honorary title, because I was compelled to work on the film’s content and style, at times rearranging entire scenes. It was a wonderful experience, forcing me to think more visually or vividly about African communities in the West. This also allowed me to ask different questions about how they are represented in places like New York, and how they might respond to media distortions.
I also created and taught a course for several years at Rutgers University (Newark campus) called, “Black Images in African Cinema.” The content of this course helped to expose me to the power of storytelling and the politics of representation. With compelling course content and film screenings, we focused on film criticism and the notion of a Third (World) Cinema. But the experience of working on a full-length documentary led me to take a course on filmmaking in 2007. It was during this course that I directed my short documentary film,Blessed and Highly Favored (2009), a 13-minute redemption story about an African American Muslim. It chronicles his journey from a community activist to a “hit man” (with a life sentence) and his return to a productive life. I hope you enjoy watching the Dollars and Dreams trailer and the full short film. If you’re on my mailing list, you’ll be updated on future film projects.