Part of the Launchpad collection on Disney+, American Eid shines a light on a very important issue. The film follows young Ameena, a Muslim Pakistani immigrant, who wakes up on Eid to find out that in America, she has to go to school on the holiday. Director Aqsa Altaf spoke out about the importance of holiday education and how it impacts today’s youth.
In American Eid, Ameena is homesick and heartbroken about not getting any days off to celebrate, but instead of letting that get her down, she goes on a mission to make Eid a public-school holiday. I spoke with writer and director Aqsa Altaf about the film and she made very interesting points about how time off is planned in schools and the workplace. Here’s what she told CinemaBlend:
In a lot of states, they don't say Christmas holidays, they say winter break, because they just can't say Christmas. But the idea that the winter break also falls on Christmas inherently is to promote getting days off for Christmas to celebrate. And every decoration you do is educated by that and is informed by that, like the idea of Christmas trees, they all come from that. So I feel like even if you don't want to talk about Eid per se, as a religious holiday, you could bring the cultural element, the tradition of it and educate everybody about it like we educate everybody about Christmas. And that would just make the world a much more open place.
What Aqsa Altaf describes above is exactly what she beautifully depicts in American Eid. The main character, Ameena, starts a petition to get days off from school to celebrate Eid. This causes other students and teachers who are not familiar with Eid to become curious, and Ameena gets the chance to share with her classmates what the holiday is all about and how her family celebrates.
American Eid is a touching story that brought me to tears, both from seeing Ameena is embraced by her classmates but also ruminating on the fact that she had to go through such an ordeal that classmates who celebrate different holidays never had to think about. Director Aqsa Altaf expanded on this with the following:
There's 1.8 billion Muslims in the world. It's a crazy big number for us to not have Eid and Ramadan and those words in common, mainstream platforms and our understanding of that. So to me, that blew my mind. I grew up watching so much about the Western side of the world and I grew up in Kuwait. It's crazy that I know so much about Christmas and Halloween and Thanksgiving. But it wasn't the other way around. The Western side did not know anything about my part of the world. And I think we are slowly changing that.
Celebrate Eid with Ameena and her family in American Eid, now streaming on Disney+! While you’re on the platform, check out the other five Launchpad films created for Season 1 of Disney’s Launchpad program. For more holiday movie fun, check out these holiday-themed films that aren’t Christmas movies.