Producer Joshua Seftel: “Our main tools – compassion, and humor”
“After the election divided the nation, we must help all of us to unite and we decided to tell honest stories, very short, about our fellow citizens-Muslims,” – said in an interview with “Voice of America” Seftel Joshua (Joshua Seftel), the Executive producer of a new series of video thumbnails “Secret life of Muslims” (The Secret Life of Muslims).
Since the second of November, each week viewers are able to see a new episode with a duration of 3-5 minutes. Distribution of the series “the Secret life of Muslims”, which its creators call “innovative”, is from several digital media platforms, including news website VOX, the country’s largest media network, USA TODAY, radio is price’s The World with host Marco Wurman and the program Sunday Morning on CBS.
The main task Seftel and his colleagues believe the confrontation of Islamophobia and destruction of harmful stereotypes that encourage discrimination, threats and violence against American Muslims. Concise story tells about different people, about their dreams, worries, joys and troubles. For the most part they are built in the form of a voice-over monologue of the protagonist.
…White supremacist in Texas was killed on the grounds of racial and religious hatred two people, and surviving, but seriously wounded a Muslim, the other his victim forgave the murderer, sentenced to death.
…A young Muslim is the main Imam of the police Department of new York explains what tests he had to pass, before he took this office, and how rooted in American society, prejudices and suspicions against those who profess Islam.
…Well-known actor, American Arab, which is popular satirical sketches as a popular comedian, with humor and sarcasm recalls how in Hollywood he was invited solely on the role of “bad guys” and “terrorists”.
These three and other stories-episodes also available on Facebook and YouTube, are a large group of authors, journalists, broadcasters, bloggers. Co-produced Seftel became Reza Aslan (Reza Aslan), writer, scholar and commentator, American of Iranian origin.
Producer and Director Joshua Seftel was born in 1968 in Schenectady, new York. Graduated from tufts University. Lives in new York. In 22 years for the documentary “Lost and Found” about abandoned orphans in Romania has been nominated for the award “Emmy”. Made several documentaries and one fiction, the political satire “a Game at-large” (War, Inc.) with John kusaka, Marisa Tomei and Ben Kingsley. His commentaries appear on NPR, Salon.com and CBS Sunday Morning.
Joshua Seftel answered the phone on the questions of the correspondent of Russian service “voice of America”.
Oleg Sulkin: Why did you choose this format – micronovel episodes and why they come with such frequency – once a week?
Joshua Seftel: We should not underestimate the power and efficiency of the Internet. I could have shot a feature film on this subject and place it on one of the streaming platforms. But this film, many people, especially those who are exposed to Islamophobia, just will not watch. And our episodes appearing every week, it’s hard to ignore even ill-wishers. Easy to share on social networks, forward to friends and family, together to discuss.
O. S.: What are people saying? Any opinions expressed?
John.With.: There are positive reviews but many negative. Mostly from haters of Muslims. They are full of anger. But most speak positively about the proportions of five to one. One woman wrote us that forwards the episodes to his mother to persuade her negative opinion about Muslims. This is exactly what we expect.
O. S.: As a Jew, you believe that you know thoroughly the nuances of the lives of American Muslims?
John.With.: No, of course. But my childhood and youth were spent in new York in the 70-80-ies, and I’m on my own experience, what is anti-Semitism. I know what it’s like when you Wake screaming insults, when you throw in small coins, when you throw stones at the Windows of your house, just because you are a Jew. So I very well feel the pain and fear of American Muslims, perceiving discrimination and hostility. We had a great team, which included Muslims, Christians, Jews, atheists and others to make the film, as opposed to Islamophobia.
O. S.: I understand that in the series completely lacks any negative information about Muslims. In this case, would it be correct to call it propaganda?
John.With.: I our project do not apply. We aren’t creating anything, nothing to hold back. I talk to different people, the characters of the individual episodes, often for long periods, for two or three hours, then to make three to five minute episode. But I will not impose my opinion. I have no special agenda, which I aspire to embody. My agenda is simple – to tell an interesting life story. Our main tools – compassion, and humor.
O. S.: You hit the spot-hot all-American debates about Islam and Islamists. So the President-elect trump in the election campaign repeatedly attacked the Muslims with very harsh statements. You are positioning yourself as a participant in this controversy?
John.With.: Coincidentally, it now comes our series. We don’t know who will win the election. But, of course, rhetoric trump fueled cauldron of passions. See: articles that come out now about the Muslims, are either terrorism, or crimes motivated by racial and religious hatred. If in the movie the hero is a Muslim, he’s a bad guy, a terrorist. The world’s 1.7 billion Muslims live in the US 3.3 million Muslims. We can’t tell 3.3 million stories we could tell some of them. Thus we are trying to somehow balance the anti-Muslim narrative of the press and cinema, to show that American Muslims are also human beings, like all other inhabitants of our country.
O. S.: do You plan to continue working in this format? For example, to make the series “the Secret life of the Jews” or “the Secret life of Latinos”?
John.With.: It is not excluded. This series was preceded by another, “the Secret life of scientists” issued by my company Seftel Productions. We tried with the help of humor and live parts to break stereotypes about people of science, which many think is crazy botanists and paleobotany. Yes, it is possible that when the series about Muslims over in February, we idea something similar in the future. But while we don’t even know how many episodes this series will get. Much will depend on our financial capabilities.