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Raeshma Razvi (Oakland) collaborating with the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California (Oakland)

Award: $40,000 Media Arts grant awarded in 2009

Completed series: March 2012

Media artist Raeshma Razvi collaborated with the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California (ICCNC) to create “Travels with H: Hafiz in a New World,” short films that explore the experiences of Bay Area Muslims through the lens of Hafiz’s poetry and life.  The project resulted in a series of  films featuring a beautician, a master boat builder, a tech entrepreneur, and others reflecting on Hafiz in their daily lives. These “video postcards” were screened at the ICCNC and may be viewed on online.

Razvi wrote, “Many Iranians know his verses by heart, and refer to them for solace, moral education, and even as divinatory revelation”; therefore, Hafiz’s writing offers a distinctive entry point for collecting and interpreting stories about exile, religious polarization, and assimilation among local Muslim immigrant communities.

The lead artist engaged with members of the ICCNC, other Bay Area Muslims, and artists and poets influenced by Hafiz’s work.  Together the collaborators engaged in creative and critical research and interviews with community members and with ICCNC speakers, who include international scholars.

Raeshma Razvi is a filmmaker, writer, and educator with years of experience in collaborative media-making. She has completed the full-length documentary, Home, about her Indian American family; shot projects in Kashmir and Jerusalem; and received an Open Society Fellowship to work with refugee teens in New York City. The ICCNC provides religious, educational, and cultural programs to teach about Islam and Muslim cultures to Muslims and non-Muslims in the Bay Area. It also has worked hard to develop strong interfaith programs.