A short film about a US veteran who planned to bomb the Islamic Center of Muncie but found friends inside and converted to Islam has been nominated for an Academy Award.
Directed and produced by Joshua Seftel, 30-minute documentary “Stranger at the Gate” tells the story of US Marine Richard “Mac” McKinney who wanted to blow up a mosque.
Instead of finding enemies at the mosque, McKinney encountered several of the members of the Islamic Center of Muncie who welcomed him inside.
Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, McKinney meets Bibi and Saber Bahrami, co-founders of the Islamic Center of Muncie, and Jomo Williams, a Black man who converted to Islam
“When Josh Seftel, director of ‘Stranger at the Gate,’ contacted me as the president of the Islamic Center of Muncie with the idea for this short film, I jumped at the opportunity to showcase how our Muslim community in Muncie was able to welcome Mac with open arms,” Bibi Bahrami told The Star Press.
Bibi Bahrami celebrated the nomination Tuesday as creating an opportunity for continued peace and understanding.
“My husband and I are absolutely blessed to be able to contribute and make a difference towards improving understanding and reducing hatred across communities in the US,” Bibi Bahrami, founder and president of AWAKEN Inc., said.
“After 9/11, our Muslim community had significant concern and stress of the safety and livelihoods of our children and grandchildren, with rising Islamophobia and increased hate crimes towards Muslims.”
She added that the film showcases the goodness of people, supporting a message of understanding.
“I feel humble and blessed that my husband Saber, my son Zaki, and I are part of this amazing message that shows how love and understanding can always overcome hate,” she said.
“Stranger at the Gate” is the latest in a series of shorter video posts Seftel created called “The Secret Lives of Muslims,” that have appeared on Vox.com and on other media sites.
The series of 14 short documentary profiles and subject films on life as an American Muslim today.
This series features many Muslim figures, including AJ+ Dena Takruri, US medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad, and NYTimes bestselling author Reza Aslan.