Category Archives: Projects

I’ve always described myself as an activist filmmaker. The desire to illuminate stories from the periphery, to create dialogue, challenge pieties, and disturb oppressive systems is why I became a filmmaker. Community projects, where diverse groups of people congregate, exchange ideas and transform one another, are also a form of art. So are collabs with other artists and activists. Recent projects I’ve been involved in.

MLK Day: I have a dream for liberation from the Congo to Palestine

Dr. King called on the US to undergo a radical revolution of values. He believed that Jim Crow segregation and the war in Vietnam were rooted in the same ethic of race-based domination. By 1967, Dr King’s religious vision for nonviolence went beyond street protests, to include abolishing what he called the “triple evils” threatening American society. He defined them as racism, poverty, and militarism.

Return to Sender at Southampton Arts Center

Return to Sender: Women of Color in Colonial Postcards & the Politics of Representation will be screened at Southampton Arts Center on Sunday November 19, 2:00 – 4:00 pm. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with Jeremy Dennis, Minerva Perez, and Brenda Simmons. This event is free and open to the public but registration is needed.

Return to Sender: Exhibition Catalog

Return to Sender is an art exhibition inspired by Mara Ahmed’s film of the same title, with Fatimah Arshad, Urvashi Bhattacharya and Sumayia Islam. The Exhibition Catalog by Mara Ahmed, Avina Mathias and Emelyn Pareja-Garcia aims to provide more historical context for the film and exhibition. It hopes to excavate layers of colonial history, gender relations, and power dynamics in order to deconstruct the male gaze (a concept rooted in the objectification and sexualization of women), and to clarify its intersection with colonialism and imperialism. Huntington’s History & Decorative Arts Museum, Huntington, New York, Fall 2023

Return to Sender: Art Exhibition at Huntington Historical Society

This art exhibition will include photographic stills from the film of the same title and fabric-based digital collages that celebrate South Asian cities and architecture by Mara Ahmed. On display September 17th to October 15th, 2023, at Huntington Historical Society, Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building in Huntington, New York.

Return to Sender: Film Premiere at Cinema Arts Centre

Return to Sender: Women of Color in Colonial Postcards & the Politics of Representation is a short, experimental film directed and produced by Mara Ahmed. It pushes the documentary medium in unexpected ways by opening with three contemporary South Asian American women who recreate British colonial postcards from the early 20th century. The film will open at Cinema Arts Centre, Huntington, NY, on Sunday October 1st, 2023. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion.

Friday Night Fire at Teatro Yerbabruja

I was the featured artist, along with opera singer and pianist Bethany Smith, at Teatro Yerbabruja’s Firehouse Gallery in Bayshore. I shared some of my writing and my translations of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poetry (the soundscape for Dasht-e-Tanhai and a new recording of my translation of Mujh Se Pehli Si Muhabbat).

Hopeful Art & Artful Hope

So energizing to be part of the Artists Round Table today and talk about Hopeful Art & Artful Hope. The convo was moderated by the wonderful Gabrielle Javier-Cerulli and I learned so much about the work of amazing artists/activists like Michaela Oteri, TL Luke, Kristy Lisle, Kierston Ghaznavi, Yvette Pino, and Della Wells.

Return to Sender: Women of Color in Colonial Postcards and the Politics of Representation

This NYSCA-funded project involves the completion of a short film “Women of Color in Colonial Postcards and the Politics of Representation” (approx. 30 min), a community screening and discussion at Cinema Arts Center; an art exhibit (including film stills and collages based on 19th-early 20th century postcards), an artist talk at Huntington Historical Society; and a free screening of the film at Ma’s House & BIPOC Art Studio in Southampton.

Trailer for Palestinian Film Festival Amsterdam

The Palestinian Film Festival Amsterdam, founded by my dear friend Nihal Rabbani, lifts the voices of Palestinian artists/filmmakers and educates audiences on the subject of Palestine. This year the festival will commemorate 75 years of the Nakba, the Great Catastrophe, which saw the mass expulsion of indigenous Palestinians in 1948. I edited the official trailer for the PFFA. It will take place at Rialto De Pijp from May 12-15, 2023.

Hofstra University | Issues in Judaism Lecture

Join us for a conversation between Shirly Bahar and Mara Ahmed about their recent scholarly and creative work related to oppression and the body. Bahar’s recent book, “Documentary Cinema in Israel-Palestine: Performance, the Body, the Home,” and Ahmed’s upcoming film, “The Injured Body,” both explore how colonialism, marginalization, and daily mental and emotional stresses from racism and othering impact the body.

Dasht-e-Tanhai – A Desert Soundscape

A poem by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, translated from the Urdu and read by Mara Ahmed, with sound design by Darien Lamen: Dasht-e-Tanhai (The Desert of Loneliness) or Yaad (Memory) has always moved me, its words and metaphors like pearls strung together with elegant ease. It embodies Faiz’s style of writing: filled with glorious ideas of beauty and social justice but always fluid, unencumbered, songful.