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Visiting Filmmaker Spotlight: Jennifer Maytorena Taylor


Two-time Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker Jennifer Maytorena Taylor will be screening her latest film New Muslim Cool on October 22, 2009 at the Wechsler Theater at American University. The film is part of our 10th Annual Human Rights Film Series which is presented in conjunction with Washington College of Law's Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law.


New Muslim Cool tells the story of Hamza Perez, a Puerto Rican-American rapper, raised a Catholic, who abandoned his life as a drug dealer, moved to Pittsburgh and began a new life as a young Muslim. The film follows Hamza, a single father, as he looks for companionship, builds a new religious community and confronts the aftermath of an FBI raid on his mosque.


Margaret Ramirez of the Chicago Tribune calls New Muslim Cool “a riveting new portrait of Muslim America,” and Jonathan Curiel of the San Francisco Chronicle describes it as a "spellbinding documentary...[that] gives us the full dimension of a Muslim American man who’s a rapper, educator, father, husband and idealist.”


Like many of Taylor's other films, New Muslim Cool explores the connection between the personal and the socio-political. Her documentary credits include Paulina, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was broadcast by the Sundance Channel; the Emmy-winning Home Front, a co-production with KQED-TV San Francisco; Immigration Calculations; Ramadan Primetime; and, most recently, Special Circumstances, which will air nationally on PBS as part of the Voices series in 2009. She is a recipient of the James D. Phelan Art Award for her body of work.


Taylor also produced short stories for the public television series California Connected and Keeping Kids Healthy, and co-produced Sophia Constantinou’s Cyprus history Divided Loyalties for Sundance Channel. She also worked as an associate and co-producer with Lourdes Portillo on Corpus: A Home Movie for Selena (P.O.V. 1999) and Señorita Extraviada (POV 2002), two award-winning documentaries for national PBS broadcast.


Fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, Taylor has worked throughout the United States, in Latin America and in Europe. She is a native Californian of Irish and Mexican heritage and was raised in Los Angeles and Vermont.


Be sure to visit our Human Rights Film Series event page for more details on the dates and times.