By DANIEL HERATY
DEARBORN – After three years of work, “Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football” premiered Thursday at AMC Star Fairlane 21.
The film documents four members of the Fordson High School varsity football team as they prepare to play a game against Dearborn High School during the last 10 days of Ramadan in 2009, an Islamic month of fasting.
Reaction to the film was positive, and those who saw it praised the storytelling.
“I loved the movie,” Dearborn resident Jacklin Zeidan said. “It was amazing. I come from a perspective of a Arab-American Christian who has lived in this community for a very long time, and I have many friends in this community.”
She said that the movie brought out the passion that many of her friends have and that she hopes the film puts to rest a lot of the fears and negative feelings outsiders have toward Dearborn.
“At the end of the day, its about education,” she said. “If you educate somebody, you show them who you are and what you are. We have cultures and religions from all aspects.”
Director of Photography Michael Shamus, who lived in Dearborn while he worked as a photographer for CNN in the 1980s, said he thought the turnout was incredible. He said the premiere was the first time he saw the film and that even though he knew the story, it was still emotional.
“To see it here, in the community, with the people who the story’s about was just fabulous,” he said. “As a photographer, it’s always interesting because I’ve already lived the whole story. I think the whole crew put together an incredibly powerful story.”
Local businessman Yusuf Berry, who is featured in the movie, said he was invited to see it before the opening, but couldn’t make it. “I thought it was outstanding,” he said. “I know the history, I went to Fordson. I think that’s why these guys (Director Rashid Ghazi and Producers Ash-Har Quraishi and Basma Babar-Qurashi) interviewed me for the picture. Basically the story was told — it was touching.”
Lawrence Zeidan, who played on the Fordson football team featured in the film, said he had goose bumps.
“That school is such a big family,” he said. “The movie was awesome. I don’t know how to explain it.” He said the movie brought back great memories of that season and the coach, Fouad Zaban, was like a second father to him.
William Ford Elementary School principal Mahmoud Abu-Rus said the movie had one message for the community.
“We can all be a positive American citizen,” he said. “The way that you can be an American without changing your beliefs and standards. It has nothing to do with your religion or ethnicity.”
Dearborn Public Schools Board of Education member James Schoolmaster said the movie did a good job of showing the family aspect of the community, including Dearborn High School, Fordson’s main rival.
“It shows hope, opportunity, religious freedom,” he said. “There are people who are afraid of Dearborn. It is an open community and everyone is welcome here.”
He said the ending, which showed the team coming together in a show of unity as Zeiban talked about family, stood out the most to him.
“I love sports, I’m very active in sports and that’s what sports are about … is family,” he said. “Everyone on that team, everyone at Fordson is a family, everyone at Dearborn High is a family and everyone in Dearborn as a whole is a family.”
(Daniel Heraty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)