Cast: Aizza Fatima, Salena Qureshi, Shenaz Treasury
Audience Award, 2021 CAAMFest
Audience Award, Narrative Feature, 2021 Asian American International Film Festival
Two sisters, Sam and Mayram, sit outside their Jackson Heights townhouse when their father, Nadeem, runs out. Suitcase in hand, he says, “I don’t want a Pakistani woman I have to take care of. I want an American woman who can take care of herself!” When their mother calls for Nadeem to come to his senses, he responds only to the use of his name. “It’s Ned now!” He retorts, nostrils flaring, before leaving forever.
When we meet them again as adults, the sisters are still facing challenges reconciling their Muslim heritage with their American lives. Sam works at a PR firm, where she ghostwrites tweets for a racist politician who rubs “Americans First” in the face of immigrants. Mayram is studying for the MCAT, with dreams of attending Harvard and becoming a pediatrician. She develops a crush on another student, who she hopes is traditional enough to wait until marriage to kiss her.
Then cousin Ameera arrives, fresh-off-the-boat and looking for a Pakistani doctor to marry. She moves in with Sam, Mayram, and their mother, who shouts from her plastic-covered couch about marriage and her useless ex-husband. Shiny and smiley, Ameera balances out their seriousness with her idealistic innocence. As she searches, she meets a handsome shopkeeper who earns more than her special mango lassi recipe.
Confidently comedic, AMERICANISH is a richly intersectional rom-com that celebrates the struggle to find oneself amongst tradition and the discovery that family can transform, rather than break, in the face of change.
An awkward teen must decide between hanging out with her cool teenage friends, or camping with her boob-poking mom. A heartwarming tribute to the power of kimbap and a mother’s sometimes-smothering love.