Rashid Ghazi '89
Growing up, Rashid Ghazi ’89 was a big football fan. He played high school football and served as captain of the team his senior year. He read as many sports books as he could, especially those written by and about football players. Among his favorites were Instant Replay by Jerry Kramer, I am Third by Gale Sayers and Something for Joey by John Cappelletti. But he didn’t find any compelling sports documentaries. He now realizes that the subject of football in the books was less interesting to him than the life stories of their subjects.
Ghazi served as ASUR President his senior year and graduated with a double major in business and sociology. He is now a partner at Paragon Marketing Group in Illinois, but he never forgot his passion for the power of telling compelling stories through football. He founded North Shore Films to produce “Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football,” a story he began developing in 2003 with the belief that there was a disconnect between the reality and the perception of what real-life American Muslims were really like.
A feature-length documentary, “Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football” follows four talented high school football players from the working class Detroit suburb of Dearborn as they gear up for their big senior year rivalry game during the last ten days of Ramadan, a month when Muslims traditionally fast from sunrise to sundown daily. Ghazi felt the story of the Fordson High School’s football team would make the kind of heartwarming, entertaining film that all Americans could relate to, while giving people a chance to learn more about the values, aspirations and opinions of Arab-American Muslims.
The film begins on September 11, 2009, and concludes at the end of Ramadan ten days later. The story takes place at Fordson High School, a public school built by Henry Ford in 1922 that was once all white but now attracts a 98 percent Arab-American student body. As the Fordson team readies itself to play its affluent cross-town rival, the film depicts a community that is desperately holding on to its Islamic faith while struggling to gain acceptance in post 9/11 America. The film recently completed a successful film festival run where it received numerous awards, including Best U.S. Documentary at the Traverse City Film Festival which is hosted by Academy Award-winning documentarian Michael Moore. Moore called the film powerful, intelligent and moving.
“I want everybody in the country to see this film,” he said.
“In the classroom the professors at Redlands fueled my passion for marketing and advertising as well as the study of consumer behavior,” Ghazi said. “Moreover, while serving as ASUR President I was given the opportunity to create events such as concerts, food festivals and a speaker series, all of which provided ‘real life’ entrepreneurial experiences that gave me the confidence and desire to want to create compelling consumer experiences—television programs, brand marketing promotions, events, films—for a living.”
The award-winning film marks Ghazi’s directorial debut. Ghazi, along with his wife Ruhma, solely funded the production, distribution and marketing of “Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football.”
“Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football” was released in 20 major markets via AMC Independent in September 2011. Currently the film is on a college tour and will be screened at the University of Redlands on April 5 with Rashid in attendance for a post-screening Q&A.