top of page

In 1961, the late African American theatre pioneer Ellen Stewart was visiting the old city of Tangier, Morocco when she had a vision - she had to have her own "pushcart" to help others. Soon thereafter she founded La Mama, the legendary experimental theatre club located in Manhattan's East Village. On the same trip to Morocco, Stewart would also come upon a young Berber actor and choreographer named Hassan Ouakrim, whom she would embrace as a son and invite to work with her at La MaMa in New York.

A Thousand and One Berber Nights tells the story of this mentorship, looking at the life of Ouakrim from his childhood in 1940s French-ruled Morocco, to his involvement in anti-colonial theatre to his rise to becoming a "master teacher" who taught North African dance across America, to the cabaret scene and high society alike. Through his art, Ouakrim would form friendships with literary figures, politicians and jazz artists, including Ornette Coleman and Randy Weston. The film delves into Ouakrim's world of mysticism and jinn, including his participation in a ceremony in 1969 that cast a deadly curse on the Rolling Stones. The film features unseen footage and photos - from Ouakrim's personal archive - of Ellen Stewart, Ornette Coleman and Randy Weston, as well as interviews with and performances by his students and collaborators.

Through the life of one immigrant, A Thousand and One Berber Nights looks at art and cultural integration, New York City's "Oriental" cabaret subculture, the East Village queer scene and the cultural synergy between African Americans and North African immigrants. "My story is different," says Ouakrim, "but it's very American."

World Premiere at the New York African Film Festival

Harlem International Film Festival

Cinema Akil - Dubai


Supported  by the Office of the Provost of Columbia University, Sister Aisha: Queen Mother of Harlem is a documentary feature about the life and legacy of Aisha al-Adawiya, a prominent leader in Harlem and the Muslim American community. Sister Aisha, as she's known, moved to Harlem from Alabama in the early 1960s to pursue her dream of being a jazz vocalist. She was involved in the music scene in the Village, eventually embraced Islam, moved to Harlem and grew close to Betty Shabbazz, Malcolm X's widow. 
Aisha became an internationally-renowned human rights activist. In 1994, following the genocide in Bosnia, she set up an organization called Women in Islam which has raised awareness and funds for conflicts around the world. She also founded the Malcolm X Museum. For 35 years, she worked at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. She retired in September 2021 and has an extraordinary personal archive, a collection of books, pamphlets, photographs, and recordings documenting her life in activism and art, that is now housed at The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary.


Aisha is a long-standing member of the Columbia community -- she has been involved with the Muslim Student Association and SIPA since the 1970s, when she set up an organization on campus called Sisters In Islam. She has organized dozens of panels and lectures at Columbia over the decades on feminism and religion, structural racism, US foreign policy and humanitarian intervention. She was deeply involved in the Ford Foundation-funded “Muslims in New York” (MSNY) project based at SIPA from 1997 to 2003, and which produced numerous studies and dissertations on Muslim civic engagement in New York.  Aisha was around when Columbia tried to demolish the Audubon Center in 1992; with Betty and the Shabazz daughters, she subsequently set up the Shabazz Center in what’s left of the Audubon. 
Aisha was involved with Columbia's MSA when NYPD surveillance began after 9/11, and when the "Muslim Ban" was introduced by the Trump administration in 2016. She, along with Imam Talib, another Harlem elder, launched a lawsuit against the NYPD.


Sister Aisha embodies a life grounded in a profound commitment to pursuing justice, social transformation and deep, meaningful relationships​​

Malcolm and the Sudanese 1.png

Malcolm X and the Sudanese looks at the role of Ahmed Osman in the life of Malcolm X. Osman, a Sudanese development economist, first met Malcolm by chance at Muhammad’s Temple #7 in Harlem in the summer of 1962. The film follows Osman, now in his late seventies, as he returns to Harlem 55 years after the death of Malcom X.

Watch here

bottom of page