Playing in select AMC theaters for a limited period of time, the documentary Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football follows the football team of Fordson High School in Dearborn, Michigan in the days leading up to their big game against their rivals from Dearborn High in September of 2009. In a city with many Muslims and Arabs, the football team consists primarily of Muslims fasting in the month of Ramadan.
Produced and directed by Rashid Ghazi, the film features four of the players, Principal Imad Fadlallah of Fordson High School, and Fouad “Walker” Zaban, the football coach at Fordson. The documentary also includes interviews with a variety of people involved with the school, the town, and the families of the main characters, many who had graduated from Fordson High as well. Coach Zaban himself graduated from Fordson High School and under his tutelage, there are more Fordson High football players that make it to Division 1 schools than before.
Although I’m not really a football fan (and by ‘not really’ I mean I don’t watch football unless it’s the Superbowl), I thought this was an excellent documentary. The film was well paced, had likable people, and obeyed the #1 rule of a good documentary: don’t be boring.
Fordson reminded me of the movie Friday Night Lights, which was about a high school football team in a town that worshipped football. The kids on the Fordson High Football team live and breathe football. Some of the players literally grew up with football in hand. Unlike the players in Friday Night Lights though, many of the players from Fordson High roughed it during their football practice with no food or water to get them going as they fasted during the day during the holy month of Ramadan and they recite a few verses from the Qur’an before they get on the field before a game.
Overall, this is a great film but I have to be honest with you – as a Muslim, I loved Fordson even more for the simple reason that I really don’t think there’s anything better out there that really proves that Muslim and Arabs living in the United States are just as American as anyone else that lives in this country. Ghazi shows that some of the Arabs have been in Dearborn for more than 100 years and helped build up the town throughout the years with homes and businesses from almost nothing. They settled in America for the opportunities that this country was able to provide them. And now their descendants are playing football, the quintessential American sport.
Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football will only play in theaters for a few more days but definitely keep an eye on this one when it’s released on DVD/on Blu-Ray/streaming/or as a direct transmission to our brains (whatever method becomes predominant in the upcoming months). Watch it if you can.