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.

Conversation with writer Uzma Aslam Khan at McNally Jackson Seaport in NYC

Honored to engage in conversation with the brilliant Uzma Aslam Khan about her new book, The Miraculous True History of Nomi Ali, on June 28th at McNally Jackson Seaport in NYC. Beautifully written and part of the important process of decolonizing history and literature, Uzma’s book brings to life revolutions that have been erased and forgotten, and exposes the mechanics of colonial oppression.

Lost or Found

The following is a portion of the correspondence between Mara Ahmed and Claudia Pretelin. Ahmed is an interdisciplinary artist and activist filmmaker based on Long Island, New York. Claudia is an art historian, independent researcher, and arts administrator based in Los Angeles, California. Their correspondence is a collage of text, images, and references both literary and cultural. It is intimate and global, straddling distances between Mexico, Pakistan, Belgium and the US.

A Preview of the Injured Body at the ARTs + Change Virtual Conference (Activate, Reimagine, Transform)

A 50-minute presentation (including film clips) that talks about racial microaggressions through the lens of my upcoming film, The Injured Body (slated to be released later this year). The presentation will be followed by a 10-minute exercise (sparked by a multimedia piece involving dance, music, film footage and text), and we will conclude with a 15-minute group discussion that parses the group’s responses.

Borders Can Be Borderlands

It used to be that borders were formed naturally, by oceans and mountains, carved out by the physical contours of the earth’s surface. There was something poetic about these landforms, extending from foothills and valleys, to plains and plateaus, all the way to seafloors. They were shaped by wind and water erosion, pushed up by the collision of tectonic plates, forged by volcanic eruptions, sandblasted and weathered over millions of years. They were substantive, grounded in history. The borders that came out of the crumbling of empires, in the 20th century, were different. Cartographic inventions meant to divvy up world resources and power, divorced from indigenous logic or priorities.

A Preview of The Injured Body at the Medical Humanities Noon Conference

This presentation will approach the subject of racism in America by focusing on micro-aggressions. Activist filmmaker, Mara Ahmed, will talk about her new documentary, ‘The Injured Body’ which is inspired by Claudia Rankine’s ‘Citizen: An American Lyric.’ She will show clips from interviews with a diverse group of women of color who share their experiences and discuss the cumulative effect of slights, slips of the tongue, as well as intentional offensives.

Borderless: An interview by Claudia Pretelin for Instruments of Memory

Ahmed’s maternal family is originally from Gurgaon, India, a city 20 miles outside the Indian capital New Delhi. At the time of the Partition, Ahmed’s mother was only 5 years old but, according to the artist, her mother “has vivid memories of her home in Gurgaon – the hand woven beds (with mosquito nets) that would be placed outside to temper summer nights, the plays that her older brother and his friends would stage, the swing that her father got installed in the central, open-air atrium of the house. This was the happy landscape of her childhood. She has never been able to go back.”

Islamophobia is Racism

Presentation at First Unitarian Church of Rochester on ‘Islamophobia is Racism’ (part of the ‘Race, Racism and Relationship’ series at First Unitarian Church).

An Open Letter of Solidarity by Jewish and Muslim Activists

The Hanukkah stabbings in December 2019 prompted us—a group of Rochester-based Muslim and Jewish activists—to unpack the attack and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s response, by parsing the political context in which such hate crimes become possible and voicing the need for targeted communities to pull together.

Let’s Talk about Class

On October 30th, the Rochester Institute of Technology hosted a screening of Ken Loach’s 2016 film “I, Daniel Blake” followed by a panel discussion on social class and inequality.

I Daniel Blake