In Jackson Heights, Queens, three young muslim women navigate the consistent and sometimes conflicting demands of romance, culture, work, and family. After Sam and Maryam’s father leaves their family to embrace an American lifestyle, rejecting their Pakistani values, the two sisters and their mother focus on honoring their cultural traditions. But Sam, working a high-paying job for a man she finds to be bigoted, struggles with accepting her culture and finding autonomy, while Maryam embraces her culture but finds it hindering her academic and career goals.
Soon, they’re joined by their cousin, Ameera, who immigrated to the land where she naively believes dreams come true. Collectively, Maryam and Ameera seek love and Sam finds status at work. But their efforts are stopped short by disappointing prospects and unsatisfying work, leaving them to find the pieces of their dreams shattered in the peripheral vision of their male counterparts. Yet on their journey, they realize that being a Pakistani-American shouldn’t be defined by other people. AMERICANISH tackles and celebrates the complex intersectionalities of womanhood by welcoming us into the world-with all its joys and tribulations-of these three marriage-aged women.
This film is presented as part of the New American Perspectives program in partnership with the Vilcek Foundation. HIFF is honored to feature writer and actress Aizzah Fatima as a 2021 program participant. An extended discussion with Aizzah Fatima will be available to view online during the Festival via the HIFF streaming app, and HIFF’s Facebook page.