SXSW 2020 Narrative Feature Competition: I’ll Meet You There Review


BY: AMANDA GUARRAGI

I’ll Meet You There is a family drama that follows the life of a Muslim – American family living in Chicago. The narrative is split into three stories based on the lives of each family member. The backstories all come together through conversations of Muslim culture and the Western ideologies being tested. There is Majeed, (Faran Tahir) who is a police officer, investigating cases in his own Muslim community, Dua (Nikita Tewani), a dancer, who is auditioning for Juilliard and Baba (Qavi Khan) her grandfather, who came over to visit from Pakistan.

Each family member is rooted in their own cultural ideology. Majeed is a policeman in the system of America, Baba is deeply rooted in the cultural and religious constructs of his homeland and Dua is a combination of both Western and Muslim ideology. It’s an interesting mixture of perspectives and the way the narrative unfolds allowed each character to be fully grounded in their beliefs. The only way to make peace with a changing world, is by having tough conversations that challenge your own culture or religion.

The conversations I found most important were the scenes involving Baba and Dua. Their generation is more conservative, their set of values are completely different than her generation. It was just interesting two ends of the spectrum have those conversations about how to conduct yourself in society. It’s also completely different for Muslim women in society, but in the Western world, I believe that there is more freedom of expression and that’s one major difference between generations.

Iram Parveen Bilal wrote a great screenplay that truly captured the different lives and perspectives of three Muslim-American people. Her direction also felt very natural and candid, while bringing these stories together. The pathways of each character, were tied together so well and allowed each backstory to be fully developed. Each character had their moment, while still maintaining their position in the family. It was an emotional journey for Dua, Baba and Majeed considering what they went through as a unit. Bilal wanted to show the lives of Muslim-American’s in a post 9/11 world, where their image had been tainted by Americans. The writing for this story is so intricate and personal, that Bilal makes you question why Muslim-American’s are perceived in such a way. Like any other immigrants moving to America, they are proud of where they come from and want to integrate their culture into the Western world.

Dua, is the perfect combination of the two and I think it’s one of the most important journey’s in the film. She is completely westernized and takes up dance as a form of expression. Dua incorporates Bollywood style in her dance movements and this keeps her connection to her late mother. She is free to dance, go to parties, smoke and drink, like any other student. When Baba comes into the picture, he makes her re-evaluate what it means to be a Muslim woman and forces her to questions her passion for dance, in the name of religion. Seeing her go to the Mosque in modern clothing, while wearing a headscarf “hijab” and then change into dance clothing in the next scene, showed the duality of being a Muslim woman in the modern world.

I’ll Meet You There is a very important film about family and different ideologies that was accurately represented by Iram Parveen Bilal. It’s a film that is timely and can transcend generations. Not only is it a film that is geared towards one culture or religion, it’s a film that symbolizes all immigrants and minorities living in America. All immigrants are trying to find a sense of community, in a place that is systemically set in their ways. The film breaks barriers and it’s definitely one that should be seen by all.

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