Redneck Muslim, a new short film by associate professor of film and digital media Jennifer Maytorena Taylor, is one of 25 films currently screening in the 2018 PBS Online Film Festival as a presentation of the PBS series POV. POV is television’s longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films. Since 1988, it has presented over 400 films to public television audiences across the country, premiering more than a dozen of the most innovative programs every year on PBS.
Redneck Muslim tracks the life and work of Shane Atkinson, the first Muslim chaplain in-training at North Carolina’s biggest trauma center and founder of the “Society of Islamic Rednecks.”
A 45-year old white man from Mississippi, Shane converted to Islam in 1999. Seeking to celebrate Southern culture with a reformed vision of “redneck” identity–stripped of racism and sexism and embracing diversity–he travels in the film to a gathering of African American Muslim leaders.
Taylor said she first came across Shane’s story after making a documentary film called “New Muslim Cool” that POV broadcast in the 2009 season on PBS.
“Because of that previous work, Shane and I have a lot of friends and acquaintances in common,” Taylor explained. “So when he sent me a friend request on social media a couple of years ago, I looked at his profile and was intrigued by the links and mentions of the Society for Islamic Rednecks.”
“At that time, my friend and colleague Mustafa Davis and I had decided to make some new short films about American Muslims as a way to engage constructively with what we were seeing as an uptick in divisive, racist, and anti-Muslim rhetoric,” she added. “So Shane’s story seemed like a natural one to explore.”
Taylor’s work has been screened at such venues as the Sundance, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Locarno Film Festivals, International Documentary Festival Amsterdam, Sundance Channel, Al Jazeera, and …