Tag Archives: Najma Nuriddin

Every Month Should be Black History Month

In the face of a long history of white filmmakers telling Black people’s stories, often in damaging ways, Black perspectives offer the potential to restructure American consciousness. For example, artists like Ava DuVerney (The 13th, When They See Us, Queen Sugar, A Wrinkle in Time), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) and Ryan Coogler (Black Panther) have changed the cultural landscape over the past few years, bringing Black struggle, Black futurism, Black imagination, and Black desire into the mainstream through distinctly Black voices. 

This February as we celebrate Black History Month, New Day is proud to feature three Black filmmakers whose works have helped to document invaluable chapters in Black history, and in doing so, have helped to reshape the narrative.

Mike Mascoll, On the Line

A headshot of New Day Filmmaker Mike Mascoll, a bald African-American man with a grey goatee. He looks directly at the camera and smiles.

Mike Mascoll is an up-and-coming director, writer and producer who grew up in Boston. He comes from an eclectic background – he became a male model at age 18, became the CEO of a wireless startup at age 28, and later a business development executive for tech companies. He’s now the Creative Director and CEO of LEV Media Group, specializing in media production and documentary film-making. His latest documentary, On the Line, highlights one of the longest running voluntary school desegregation programs in the country, and its historical impact on the city of Boston and those personally involved in the program. The civil rights movement is often taught as a Southern phenomenon, but the struggle for racial justice occurred all over the country, especially in Northern cities. On the Line reminds viewers that we all have a responsibility to dismantle white supremacy. 

In addition to his mother, Mike credits two revolutionary heroes for teaching him how to live with dignity and self-respect. The first is Sidney Poitier, who not only accomplished the impossible feat of becoming an African-American star in Hollywood, but did so without taking on roles that diminished the image of African Americans. The second is Mohammed Ali, whose popularity as a celebrity did not stop him from speaking out against racial discrimination during the fraught times of the Civil Rights Movement. 

Mike became motivated to tell his own story after realizing he did not want to have his success or failure be evaluated by others with an outside and arbitrary set of criteria. He hopes to help future generations lift up their own voices, be present in the reflection of their own stories and decide their own futures. 

He would love to see Black History Month progress to become Black Awareness month, to reflect “our history and contributions, along with a transformative and hard look at our present state and future roadmap.” 

Najma Nuriddin, Not in My Neighborhood

A headshot of New Day Filmmaker Najma Nuriddin, an African-American woman with wavy shoulder length hair and large red earrings. She looks directly at the camera and smiles widely.

Najma Nuriddin is an award-winning filmmaker and producer who received her MFA from Howard University. Originally from California, Najma has traveled and worked in Africa, Europe and Southeast Asia as a freelance filmmaker. Najma created Nsoroma Films in 2010, which is dedicated to telling organic stories that are unique to the human experience from a cultural perspective, striving to be a catalyst for creative revolution. Previously an Emerging Voices Mentee with the New Orleans Films Society, Najma now spends her time in New Orleans as an adjunct film lecturer and is hard at work on her next project. Najma’s film collaboration with Kurt Otabenga Orderson, Not in My Neighborhood, tells intergenerational stories of spatial violence in three different cities: Cape Town, New York, and São Paulo. The film illuminates the tools and approaches used by urban activists to shape and navigate their cities, which have been affected by colonization, architectural apartheid, and gentrification. 

Najma first began to seriously entertain the idea of filmmaking during her last year of undergrad at San Francisco State University when she took an intro to documentary filmmaking course. While studying film at Howard University, she met her professor and mentor, Haile Gerima, who had a significant impact and influence on her as a filmmaker. Through that experience, she learned the power of the personal story that celebrates culture, history, and legacy, as well as the importance of controlling your narrative and being comfortable in yourself and your ideas. Haile continuously inspires Najma as a filmmaker who does not compromise and uses his art form as a storyteller as a weapon. Najma is also very much inspired by Julie Dash, Kathleen Collins, Maya Deren and Ava DuVernay, and hopes to leave behind many powerful and beautiful works of art that speak to the vast diversity of the Black experience, and take an in-depth look into relationships, culture, and history.

“I think Black History Month is a great moment for everyone to learn more about Black History and how it’s a part of World History, and US history in general,” Najma said. “We have much to learn and much to celebrate. There is also much work to be done by everyone to reach equity, justice, and acknowledge our country’s complicated and brutal origins.”

As a Black filmmaker, Najma looks forward to the day when she will be asked to talk more about her craft, instead of only being asked about the subject or topic of her films as they relate to race.

Faith Pennick, Silent Choices

A headshot of New Day Filmmaker Faith Pennick, an African-American woman with wavy shoulder length hair and a pierced nose. She looks directly at the camera with a neutral expression,

Faith Pennick has written, directed, produced and edited a number of films including two narrative shorts, Running on Eggshells (2007) and Harlem Sistas Double Dutch (2005), and the documentary Weightless (2012), about plus-size female scuba divers. Her first feature-length documentary, Silent Choices, distributed by New Day Films, is about abortion and its impact on the lives of African American women. A “hybrid” documentary, Silent Choices is part historical piece, part social and religious analysis and part first-person narrative. From African Americans’ cautious involvement with Margaret Sanger during the early birth control movement to Black nationalists and civil rights activists who staunchly opposed abortion (or stayed silent on the issue), Silent Choices examines the juxtaposition of racial and reproductive politics. 

Faith was first inspired to be a filmmaker by seeing Hoop Dreams in 1995. She studied film production and business at NYU, originally wanting to be a producer, but went into directing because she didn’t want to wait for someone else to make the films she wanted to see.

Growing up, she knew that figures like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Paul Robeson, Shirley Chisholm and Sojourner Truth were the collective reason she could pursue her dreams and be true to herself as a Black woman. But it was seeing Roots, Eyes on the Prize, and Marlon Riggs’ Tongues Untied that expanded her horizons on the power of media to tell stories about African Americans. She also credits her mother, who deserves all the respect in the world for making sacrifices so she could be the person she’s become.

When asked about her current influences, Faith says “I LOVE Steve McQueen! He’s an amazing filmmaker and visual artist who embraces difficult subjects, and doesn’t limit himself to telling stories that fit a narrow perspective of ‘Black life.’” Faith hopes that her legacy will inspire artists to move beyond their comfort zones. She also hopes that her film Silent Choices proves that reproductive rights is 100% a Black woman’s issue.

About Black History month, Faith sums it up: “African Americans (unwillingly) built this country. EVERY month should be Black History Month.”

Other Black filmmakers in the New Day Films collective include Rodney Evans (Vision Portraits), Anike Tourse (America; I Too), Michael Premo (Water Warriors) and Kurt Otabenga Orderson (Not in My Neighborhood), and Patty Berne (Sins Invalid). Their films cover themes of art, disability, racial justice, segregation, colonization, immigration, and resistance. Visit NewDay.com to learn more about their work and that of other filmmakers seeking to disrupt the dominant narrative. 

Meet New Day – Kurt Orderson and Najma Nuriddin

Najma Nuriddin and Kurt Orderson

We are both filmmakers from different parts of the world who periodically come together to collaborate. Kurt Orderson is the founder of Azania Rizing Productions, a company that was formed as a direct response to the exclusion of marginalized voices from mainstream film and television. Najma Nuriddin is a filmmaker who directs and produces. She has traveled and worked in Africa, Europe, and South East Asia as a freelance filmmaker. Currently, we are both filmmakers in residence at Johns Hopkins University, developing an online archive of our film, Not in My Neighbourhood.  

Not in My Neighbourhood tells the intergenerational stories of spatial violence in three self-professed world-class cities: Cape Town, New York, and São Paulo. The film aims to build solidarity among active urban citizens by illuminating the tools and approaches used by urban activists to shape and navigate their cities, which have been affected by colonization, architectural apartheid, and gentrification. Not in My Neigbourhood explores the effects of various forms of spatial violence on the spirit and social-psyche of city dwellers. We follow the daily struggles, trials and triumphant moments of active citizens who are fighting for the right to their cities.

Not in My Neighbourhood

Kurt grew up on the Cape Flats of Cape Town, a strip of townships built by the architects of Apartheid in the 1960’s. Both his parents and extended family were victims of racially motivated forced removals from areas like District Six and Woodstock. The experience of spatial violence and architectural Apartheid has affected Kurt’s life in deep and profound ways, which inspired this film. Najma came on board this project as a co-producer because of her passion for telling stories of people around the world that connect us to one another. This film, in particular, connects grassroots activists who can inspire, build and unite one another and also everyday people around the world who are coming together in the name of community-based activism for housing, equity, and empowerment. 

Despite this new focus on gentrification, general discourse on the topic has failed to make the link between new and old forms of spatial violence, geographical exclusion and the legacies of architectural Apartheid. The ways in which spaces are used are always changing. We must ask ourselves; what kind of spaces are we moving towards with our current plans? Changing, controlling, privatizing these spatial assets can have incredibly adverse effects on the people who use it.

New Day: Breaking the Distribution Mold

In the competitive world of film distribution, it can be easy to forget that there is a more personal and direct way of operating. National Co-op Month in October is a good time to celebrate our rare and unique status as a distribution co-op. We have banded together as engaged filmmakers and activists to collectively market and sell our films. By purchasing or licensing titles from our collection you not only gain access to thought-provoking educational materials, but you also support a unique model that empowers New Day filmmakers to maintain ownership of our films and to use our earnings in sustaining careers devoted to education, activism, and change-making.

New Day was initially formed in 1971 because the women’s movement had arrived and a group of independent filmmakers couldn’t find distribution for their feminist films. “The whole idea of distribution,” explains co-founder Julia Reichert, “was to help the women’s movement grow. Films could do that; they could get the ideas out. We could watch the women’s movement spread across the country just by who was ordering our films. First it was Cambridge and Berkeley. I remember the first showing in the deep South.”

Central to our co-op’s identity is the democratic way that we self-govern. Each voice is valued and decisions about how to grow and improve our service is done collectively. Major efforts are guided by a volunteer Steering Committee drawn from the pool of members-owners in the co-op. A biennial transfer of governance to other members assures that leadership is broadly shared and frequently infused with new ideas and perspectives.

Being a part of New Day Films is such a breath of fresh air which makes me feel inspired and energized. New Day is filled with experienced and powerful storytellers, there to help and support you, making you not only a better filmmaker, but also thrive as an individual and as a collective.
Najma Nuriddin, Not in My Neighbourhood

As a Latina filmmaker, I have been welcomed into the New Day community with open arms. It’s been amazing to be a part of such a supportive and engaged group of storytellers whose powerful films are having a real impact in the world.
Luisa Dantas, Land of Opportunity

Our collection includes award-winning films that investigate global concerns like criminal justice, environmental issues, gender & sexuality, and immigration. New Day films have challenged and inspired audiences everywhere, from high school classrooms to Capitol Hill. We continue to be sustained by the ideas that inspired our formation: collaboration, hope and social change.

Thank you for your continued support of the longest-running distribution cooperative for independent filmmakers in the US!