New Muslim Cool in Russia

By director/producer Jennifer Maytorena Taylor


I’m just back from a great international event – the Fifth Annual Golden Minbar Film Festival in Russia. Set in Kazan, the beautiful capital city of the republic of Tatarstan some 450 miles east of Moscow, the Golden Minbar is billed as the world’s biggest festival of Muslim cinema.

But to me the Golden Minbar Festival seemed much more than that. The films in the features, documentaries, and shorts categories came from all over the world, and not all were explicitly (or even implicitly) about Islam or Muslim issues.


The over-arching themes instead were about dialogue, crossing borders, globalization and displacement, and learning about each other in this complicated world far past our preconceived ideas. There were films dealing with Soviet history and Tatar traditions, Middle Eastern and Iranian history and contemporary issues, immigration, and the plight of children in Afghanistan, Africa, and Latin America.

Many of the films were somber, revealing deep anxieties and fissures between industrialized and developing countries.  And yet the mood of the event itself was optimistic and even joyous, as participants gathered across national and religious lines of all kinds to see the films and learn about each other’s worlds.


Filmmakers and films came from such far-flung places as Iran, Bahrain, Poland, Hungary, Switzerland, Germany, Russia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and Israel — and at any given time a group of people would represent at least six or seven countries. The audiences came from the very diverse communities that make up the city of Kazan –Russian, Tatar, Muslim, Christian, and many more.

I was amazed and delighted by the intense audience reactions to NEW MUSLIM COOL –the only documentary set in the United States – and was especially thrilled to see how many older people turned out for the film and really seemed to get it. They were really moved by the story of Hamza and his family and community, and all of the inter-faith and inter-community storylines.


The festival closed with a fabulous over-the-top gala featuring dancers and musicians in some very high production numbers mixing Vegas flash and Tatarstan tradition. We all got to ride for a block in limousines and emerge on the red carpet to legions of shouting fans – a definite first and likely a last for this documentary filmmaker.

So from all of us at NEW MUSLIM COOOL, thank you for that once-in-a-lifetime experience, Golden Minbar!


7 Responses to “New Muslim Cool in Russia”

  1. nugroho says:


    I think this is a great event. Meeting many moslem who have same interest in one place. that can boosting up our spirit in islam, i hope so.

    FYI, there is an Indonesian artist in one of your photo. Did you meet each other? His name is Feddy Nuril. Very famous in Indonesia after he played in Ayat-ayat Cinta (The Verses of Love).

    I’m really happy if we can continue our silaturahim.

    jazakallah khoir


  2. Zebunnisa says:


    Does the Fifth Annual Golden Minbar Film Festival in Russia have a website? I’d like to see a list of films they screened at their most recent event.



  3. [...] New Muslim Cool just made its debut at the Fifth Annual Golden Minbar Film Festival in Russia. [...]

  4. admin says:

    Here is the website for the Golden Minbar Festival:

  5. admin says:

    Salaams and thanks for the note. Fedi Nuril indeed was there, and became a wonderful new friend along with his producer Karan, and Ayat-ayat Cinta showed at the festival to enormous audience appreciation. Golden Minbar was a great event for people of all backgrounds and religious affiliations to find common ground and make new friendships!

  6. Hamza says:

    HI.I am a muslim born and living in Kenya.I have read so much about islam in Russia. I and some friends of mine from a cultural group named Akil Timam have been searching for a cultural group that we can exchange some ideas on religion.We are particularly hoping to find groups from Chechnya.Please pass any link info of such a group in Chechnya.Thanx.

  7. Dear sir/Madam…………thank you for sharing .I think this article is my’s Very useful and most beautiful. actually I dont know how do you do it.I never see such as attractive article. thank you……….thank you very much

Leave a Reply