Hanan Malas


What’s your creative profession, and what led you to pursue it?

I’m a writer/director, and my love for film and writing goes way back to my childhood. I decided to pursue filmmaking in college and while I was there I discovered that my great uncle, Mohammed Malas, is a director in Syria. My passion for filmmaking suddenly felt validated, it is an inherent part of who I am. I’ve always wanted to pursue it, and whenever I see another family member in the industry pursuing their dreams I feel connected to them and to my culture more.

How has your journey been so far?

My journey has been a series of ups and downs, marked by my mental health struggles. There have been stops, detours, and more challenges than I anticipated on my way to where I want to be. There was a phase where I didn’t feel creative, and I even took a break from making movies. During my hiatus, technology advanced significantly. When I decided to return, the mountain seemed higher, and I felt overwhelmed. However, my family, particularly my father and siblings, played a crucial role in supporting me. My father even offered his home for me to shoot my film “Laylat Al Qadr”.

Tell us more about your portfolio and the story behind your work.

Every experience I’ve had becomes a source of inspiration. In particular, my short film “Laylat al-Qadr” is drawn from my personal experiences with death in our family and growing up as a Muslim woman.

What unique challenges or frustrations have you faced as a Muslim creative?

I went to an Islamic private school, and they did not have a proper art program. This put me on a bad footing creatively in comparison to people who went to public school. Without encouragement or structure, I feel years behind my peers. They forget that the Quran is poetry, our entire creative identity as Arabs initially is how good we are at poetry. If you love the Quran, you should love art, because the Quran is art.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently involved in post-production for my short film “Laylat al-Qadr” and also working on a children’s book “Daliah Djinn and the Very Strong Wind”.

Which individuals within the Muslim creative community do you admire?

I admire those who support artists, particularly my father. Any support given creates a ripple effect of success. A supportive community is crucial. In the words of my great uncle Mohammed Malas, “Arabs may hesitate to contribute financially to the arts, but anyone supporting the arts is preserving our culture, especially during challenging times.”

What kinds of opportunities are you actively seeking or hoping to explore within your creative journey?

I’m on the lookout for a literary agent for my children’s book. I’m also searching for an impact producer to promote my film. I’m open to other opportunities, I have lots of skills just ask me.

How can people get in touch to collaborate with you?

You can reach out to me via my film’s Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/laylatalqadrthefilm/

How does your cultural background influence your creative process?

Coming from a mixed background, American and Arab, I find they both influence my creativity along with other aspects of my identity. Growing up queer, neurodivergent, etc. I take these feelings and experiences, whether they are positive or negative and weave them into my art so that like a mirror, people can relate and see themselves in my work and not feel alone.

What are your long-term goals as a Muslim creative?

I want to publish my book and finish a feature film or write a TV show.

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