CULVER CITY, Calif. — Ramadan is a sacred time of prayers and gratitude for Muslims, but for Aziz Tazi, a Moroccan filmmaker, he is lifting special prayers of gratitude this year as his first feature film is set to release this June.
As he takes some time to pray at the King Fahad mosque in Culver City, he said making a positive impact in Hollywood as a Middle Eastern man is not easy.
“I think being Arab in Hollywood is a challenge. The roles that exist for us are the three B’s. The billionaire. The bomber. The belly dancer. We’re not only underrepresented, but we also have a critical responsibility to bring about change and spread awareness,” Tazi said.
Tazi hopes to spread that awareness one film at a time. He wants to show the outside world that not every Muslim is an extremist, and that there are beautiful elements to Arab culture that should be celebrated. He hopes his first film with Lionsgate, entitled "Night Walk," which features a love story of East and West, will do just that.
“With 'Night Walk,' what I want to do is reflect on the true diversity of our misunderstood community. In "Night Walk" you have characters like the Muslim convert, but also a Muslim-born person who just lives his life. But also, we have the extremist gang leader or the corrupt police. What I want to do is show that we are more than what we are currently depicted with in the media,” he explained.
The film features acting by Sean Stone, Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts. In addition to the romance, the crime drama displays the many colors of corruption, and helps humanize Arabs and Muslims through a layered lens. Tazi also hopes his fellow Arab and Muslim community in Los Angeles will step up and combat negative stereotypes as well.
“For the Muslims, I really want to urge them to dissociate themselves with the extremist. To really stand up and tell them loud and clear, they do not represent us. We are the majority, we are the 99%," he said.
"Night Walk" will be released on June 15.