From Director Yoni Brook and Producer
We hope this film will break stereotypes of what goes on inside a slaughterhouse. Although most Americans consume meat, few stop to think about where it comes from. In the immigrant community where we filmed A SON'S SACRIFICE, parents care so much about the cultural and religious significance of their diet that they bring their children to the slaughterhouse to see the customs around ritual sacrifice. We hope our film provides an opportunity to learn about a rite that is often misunderstood, by looking at it through the lens of a typical American story.
The film has been a catalyst for dialogue between generations of immigrant communities. We hope our film will empower both immigrants and their children to share their stories with each other. It is particularly important that South Asian and Muslim communities in America, our primary audiences for the film, share their stories now. With help from outreach partners we've brought the film to college campuses and community centers around the country.
Their three favorite films:
1. The Inner Tour
2. Killer of Sheep
3. In Search of Our Fathers
Their advice for aspiring filmmakers:
For first-time filmmakers, our advice is to start small. As we discovered the richness of the family we were filming, we were tempted to make a longer film, but we kept ourselves focused on keeping the project succint and engaging. At the same time, making a short film doesn’t mean it has to be overly simple—we were able to bring up many complex issues in under a half hour.
Their most inspirational food for making independent film:
We ate some amazing fusion food at the slaughterhouse that blended Latin, Asian and Middle Eastern flavors, but our favorite was the homemade goat biryani cooked by Riaz, Imran’s father.
Yoni Brook is an independent photographer and documentary film director. He has worked as a photojournalist at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Seattle Times, and The Commercial Appeal (Memphis). He is regularly assigned to cover stories of national significance, such as Hurricane Katrina for Fortune and advertising campaigns for Target.
Brook's photography has received the field's highest honors at the Pictures of the Year International and Best of Photojournalism competitions. He was named the national College Photographer of the Year by the Missouri School of Journalism and was the youngest ever to be selected for Photo District News' “30 Photographers to Watch.” He speaks regularly about photojournalism and has instructed students at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
His first film, A SON’S SACRIFICE, won Best Documentary Short at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival, the Audience Award at SilverDocs (AFI/Discovery Channel) Documentary Film Festival, the International Documentary Association's Distinguished Short Documentary Award, the CINE Golden Eagle and the Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Film & Digital Media from the Council on Foundations. He is co-director of two films other with Musa Syeed for PBS: THE CALLING, about young religious leaders, and A BRONX PRINCESS, about a teenager confronting her royal African heritage. He is an alumnus of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and was selected to attend the CPB/PBS Producers Academy at WGBH in Boston.
Syeed is an independent filmmaker and writer. He is co-director with Yoni Brook on two films for PBS: THE CALLING, about young religious leaders, and A BRONX PRINCESS, about a teenager confronting her royal African heritage.
Syeed was a Fulbright Fellow in Cairo, Egypt, where he focused on experimental filmmaking. As a writer, he produced original theatrical work for the Children's Museum of Manhattan and is the film editor for Islamica Magazine.
Syeed has worked as an educator in schools, community centers and prisons. In the 2008 academic year he will be a professor of documentary production at Williams College. He serves as an advisor for film and television companies, including Thirteen/WNET. He is an alumnus of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and the Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies Department.
Williams is an award-winning documentary and fiction film director. For over 25 years he has produced films confronting issues of race, ethnicity and family relationships.
His most recent film, BANISHED, premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and premieres on Independent Lens in February 2008.
His films include I Sit Where I Want: The Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education (2004), MLK Boulevard: The Concrete Dream (2003), TWO TOWNS OF JASPER (2002), Making Peace; Rebuilding our Communities (1995), The Pursuit of Happiness: With Arianna Huffington (1994), Without A Pass (1992), In Search of Our Fathers (1991), and From Harlem To Harvard (1982).