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Summer is a 17-year old carefree black girl, whose world is turned upside down when her mother, a popular meteorologist named Jade Jennings, abruptly converts to Islam and becomes a different person, prompting Summer to reevaluate her identity.
But, while Summer initially resists Islam, she eventually becomes drawn to its teachings, particularly around the "Jinn," supernatural beings who occupy a parallel world and have free will, like humans. Summer soon realizes that the religion is more complex than she thought, and that people interpret it in different ways. Yet, Summer's need to be free and untethered to any one way of being clashes with her mother’s strict interpretation of the faith and causes a growing rift between them.
When Summer meets Tahir, a fellow Muslim classmate who attends the same masjid, she is further drawn to the religion and especially to his parent’s fluid, freeing practice of it. As Summer and Tahir build a connection based in laughter, curiosity, and beef pepperoni, a budding sexual attraction ignites, causing a major conflict between physical desire and piety.
VISUAL & CREATIVE INFLUENCES
WHY I'M MAKING JINN
Some of my earliest memories are in a masjid, making salat alongside women in silk and rayon scarves. I want Summer and Jade's conversion to reflect the very distinct sensory details that shaped the world I was born into.
Further, this story reflects the duality of my own identity, and my upbringing in a black, half-Islamic home, negotiating Juma prayers, Lil' Kim CD's, and early sexuality. I want to create a film with all the trappings of popular coming of age films, but which allow for a black teen girl to serve as our lens into understanding a larger issue. As a Teaching Artist in film and media, I work with youth ages 10-17, and I believe they are the agents for any lasting change in our society.
I am also a coming of age film aficionado. Many of my past short films, short stories, and poetry chart the often difficult passage that black girls experience on their way to adolescence or adulthood.
My screenwriting and filmmaking have been recognized by the following organizations:
I am tired of seeing the same recycled images of Muslims when I watch the news, go online, or hear people talk about them in public. None of those Muslims resemble the Muslims I grew up with or know, like my cousin Saidah who loved LL Cool J and got her hair pressed when I was a kid, or my cousins who blasted Naughty By Nature and A Tribe Called Quest from their radios, or my father, who danced to jazz and made us buttermilk pancakes. I thirst for something different, so I created it.
This film is necessary at a time when potential presidential candidates speak of barring an entire group of people from entering this country based on their religion, when state politicians deny the entry of immigrants seeking asylum, or when police officers use excessive force and brutality against innocent citizens. When a group of people are painted with one sinister brush, it becomes okay to dehumanize them, to strip them of their rights, to blame them for crimes they didn’t commit all under some banner of patriotism. I’m not okay with that.
My films humanize those who are routinely dehumanized.
Nijla Mu'min- Writer/Director/Producer
Nijla is a writer and filmmaker whose artistic background spans poetry, photography, short fiction, dance, and film criticism. Hailing from the East Bay Area, she tells stories about black girls and women who find themselves between worlds and identities.
Her 2011 short film Two Bodies has screened at festivals across the country, including the Pan African Film Festival, Outfest, Frameline and Newfest. Her writing appears in the critically acclaimed book, "Love InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women," and she's also written film and cultural criticism for VICE, Shadow and Act on the Indiewire Network, Bitch Media, Gawker, and The Los Angeles Times. In 2011, she worked as a Production Assistant on Ava DuVernay’s film, Middle of Nowhere.
She is a recipient of the 2012 Princess Grace Foundation- Cary Grant Film Award for her graduate thesis film, Deluge, which has screened at BAMcinematek in Brooklyn, Blackstar Film Festival in Philadelphia and The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA). In 2014, she was one of 10 writers selected for the Second Annual Sundance Institute Screenwriters Intensive. She is the winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Screenplay at the 2014 Urbanworld Film Festival, for her script Noor. In 2015, she was selected for the prestigious New York Film Festival's Artist Academy. Her script JINN has received good ratings on the industry script database THE BLACK LIST. Her 2015 short film,Dream has screened at the the Pan African Film Festival, Urbanworld, and the Afrikana Independent FIlm Festival.
She is a graduate of UC Berkeley, and also attended Howard University's MFA Film Program, where she was the recipient of the 2009 Paul Robeson Award for Best Feature Screenplay. She is a 2013 dual-degree graduate of CalArts' MFA Film Directing and Writing programs.
Avril Z. Speaks- Associate Producer
Avril has over eighteen years of experience as a filmmaker to include credits as a producer, writer, director, and editor. She made her directorial debut in 1999 when she directed her first feature film The Round Table, then later went on to complete the award-winning feature film Sophisticated Romance.
She earned her M.F.A. in Film Directing from Columbia University School of the Arts in New York City, her B.A. from the University of Maryland in African American Studies and studied film production at Howard University. Upon graduating from Columbia, Avril worked in development for USA Films (currently Focus Features) and the Association for Independent Video and Filmmakers.
As an advocate of film education and training, Avril has shared her passion for the arts by volunteering for several film-related panel discussions and festivals, and as a full time professor at Howard University in Washington, DC. Currently, she is an adjunct professor in the film departments at Azusa Pacific University and the University of La Verne. She recently earned her second master’s degree in Theology and the Arts at Fuller Theological Seminary.
Currently an associate producer for the upcoming film, Jinn, Avril continues to produce, write and direct various film and video projects. Her short film Touch and Go, recently screened in Leeds, UK as part of the Common Bodies art exhibit. She also recently directed the film The Conversation, which is currently in post-production. She is also a contributor for two upcoming books on religion, race and film. Her current project, Sisters: The Webseries, is available online. For more information, visit: http://www.azuspeak.com.
Topher Osborn- Director of Photography
Topher Osborn is an LA based Cinematographer and a Southern California native. His most recent feature, Dear White People won the Breakthrough Talent Award at Sundance 2014 and went on to play at New directors / New Films and the LA Film Festival. It was acquired by Lionsgate - Roadside Attractions. An African Election premiered at Sundance 2011 and was nominated for Best Documentary at the Independent Spirit Awards. Topher studied cinematography at UCLA's MFA Film Production Program. He loves this medium and hopes to continue to serve the unique stories of talented filmmakers for years to come.
Yanique Sappleton- Assistant Director
Yanique Sappleton is a Jamaican born filmmaker. A graduate of California State University with a degree in Cinematic Arts, she has worked in almost every facet of filmmaking. Currently the director of a web series, Yanique is also an accomplished screenwriter. She served as Assistant Director on Nijla's short film Dream. She is also working on her own screenplay about a young woman of color who finds her voice through her art. Yanique is excited to be working on Jinn and believes these stories are priceless in their value to our community.
WHY WE NEED YOUR HELP
We know this journey won’t be easy. Some would say that a film like this is too niche, has too small of an audience, or isn’t mainstream enough and we are going to prove them wrong. At its core, this is a universal film about identity, love, and family relationships. With your help, we can prove that a story like this is financially viable and necessary.
Jinn is a micro-budget feature that will be shot in Los Angeles this summer. Your contributions will ensure that this movie gets made. Funds raised will be used for casting, permits, locations, wardrobe, production design, and crew and cast fees.
*****New $35 Reward- #blackgirlmagic print #4
****New $100 Reward- 3 #blackgirlmagic prints
Included in the $100 reward: a "Summer’s Glow" 4oz travel candle based on Nan+Von’s best-selling Honey Blossom scent.
Included in the $250 reward package- Dance class pass to Tatiana Zamir's AMAZING Afro-Hip Hop Workout! (Los Angeles residents only).
Risks and challenges
There is no proven success guide to making an independent film. What works for one indie filmmaker, may not work for the next. We are telling a very distinct, specific story that may prove too controversial or novel for some people, including potential investors and vendors, causing potential delays in shooting the film.
To combat these obstacles, the JINN team will utilize years of experience in micro-budget filmmaking, fundraising, research, and production management, to create an effective production model for the film. This model will not compromise the integrity of the story or characters, but will enhance them through efficiency, preparation, and follow-through.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter