Disarming docu “New Muslim Cool” chronicles an eventful period in the life of Puerto Rican-American Jason Perez, a former gangbanger/drug dealer turned rapper and devout Muslim. A fine illustration of the melting pot’s latest cultural flavors, as well as a helpful look past post-9/11 Islamic stereotypes, pubcast vet Jennifer Maytorena Taylor’s pic should make fest rounds en route to smallscreen exposure.
To the lingering bafflement of his Spanish-speaking Catholic family in Philly, Perez ditched his bad-boy ways some years ago, changed his first name to Hamza and moved with a close-knit multiracial Muslim community to Pittsburgh. There, he married levelheaded Rafiah (after an online courtship), bringing together children from prior relationships, and set about doing good via outreach to at-risk youth on the street and county jail inmates in nondenominational faith-based programs. He also continued to perform and record music with brother Suliman as hip-hop act Mujahideen Team (aka M-Team). But hiccups arise when the FBI raids their mosque, then Hamza has his jail clearance revoked — both acts left unexplained, Patriot Act-style. Above-average lensing and original score are plusses.