If you are in San Francisco, don’t miss Breaking Fast at our inaugural Pride screening at the newly renovated San Francisco LGBT Center on June 22nd! Get your tickets here.

Mike Mosallam is a writer, producer and director for film, television and theatre and also the head of his own production company, Mike Mosallam Productions. In 2015, he wrote and produced a short film called Breaking Fast that was highly received at film festivals all over the world. The film is about Mo, an Arab-American Muslim man dealing with heartbreak. Mo meets an All-American man named Kal who is sweet but Mo assumes they have little in common. Kal, however, surprises him by offering to break fast with him during the month of Ramadan. As the two men learn more and more about each other, they begin to fall in love. Breaking Fast is currently being developed in a feature length film of the same name. We asked Mike a few questions about both his career, his film and the importance of representation in film.

Arab Film Festival: How did you get into filmmaking?
Mike Mosallam: I’ve always been involved in entertainment; in the beginning of my career, it was more on the stage side as an actor, director, and producer. As I got more into physical production for film, in various forms, I always knew I wanted to create content that shaped the narrative of the Arab/Muslim-American experience (or, at least, that experience from my vantage point). I was fortunate enough to create a docu-series for TLC called All-American Muslim, but that was a whole different ballgame. When I started working in film/tv, I knew I’d love to expand my work to the narrative side of things.

Still from the short film Breaking Fast

AFF: What inspired the story for Breaking Fast?
MM: When a friend asked what characters in modern cinema I felt best represented my journey, as a Muslim, I was at a complete loss to name one.

AFF: Why did you decide to expand the film into a feature?

MM: My hope that this story would find an audience, however small, was far exceeded by an expansive welcome on the festival circuit, especially internationally. The message was affirmed— we need more of these stories in the conversation. More so, we need these stories to change the conversation. For me, “Breaking Fast” isn’t necessarily a gay story or a Muslim story— it’s a story of what happens when you live outside any prescribed mold and finally meet someone who truly piques your interest. It’s a story about human connection above anything else.

Still from the short film Breaking Fast

AFF: What would you like audiences to come away with after watching Breaking Fast?
MM: I sort of touched on this, but my intention was to tell a story that my friends and I could see ourselves in — one that spoke to the nuances of daily life and treated identity: religious, sexual, gender and otherwise, as harmonious lenses by which individuals interact with the world around them.

AFF: What are some of your favorite films, the ones that most influence your work?
MM: For this project, the Andrew Haigh movie Weekend and the HBO series Looking were big influences. In general, I’m drawn to authentic and emotional stories and people (characters). I want to relate to them on a visceral level. Also, and unashamedly, I’m always down for a good rom-com and/or superhero movie and/or musical!

Still from the short film Breaking Fast

AFF: What other projects are you working on?
MM: Beyond the feature version of Breaking Fast, I’m gearing up to direct two stage pieces this year (Duncan Sheik’s Spring Awakening and Stephen Karam’s Sons of the Prophet). Additionally, my production company is developing a family/college comedy about a chubby kid who needs to lose 20 pounds in order to pass the 8th grade and move on to high school.

AFF: What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers, especially those who feel underrepresented in the industry?
MM: Control the narrative. You get to decide what stories are told. You have the power to create your own stories. Don’t fear. Do it. Don’t feel held back. Don’t make excuses. Tell the story no one else can.

Breaking Fast Trailer from HS on Vimeo.

If you are in San Francisco, don’t miss Breaking Fast at our inaugural Pride screening at the newly renovated San Francisco LGBT Center on June 22nd! Get your tickets here.