“This festival was created to heal the wounds of 9/11 with art, with movies that have a worldview, with movies that come from all over the world,” said the helmer. “We are defined not just by the events that happened, but we are defined also by the reaction to the events that happen. And too often in the decade past 9/11, post 9/11, America has had a conversation with the rest of the world, but often it becomes a monologue and we are here and making the ‘Reluctant Fundamentalist’ as a dialogue between the sides of the world that are in this film.”
Since the pic’s protagonist (Riz Ahmed) is a Pakistani national climbing the ranks of Wall Street, Nair spoke of her own American dream as a student coming to the states on a scholarship to Harvard.
“I was incredibly encouraged even though I worked like, not in the mainstream, you know and that is something we really salute about the America of you then, in our film as well,” she said at a cocktail party before the screening. “I think the American dream certainly still exists, but the key thing is it has to exist for people of every color,” she said.
Ahmed, a British rapper and actor, also spoke about the American dream and whether it’s still alive. “One thing that was really interesting doing research for this role was meeting lots of Pakistani men working in finance, working on Wall Street. The allure and the potency of that dream remains to this day, the transformative power of it, the faith in that dream.”
Comparing classic British cynicism to America’s earnestness, Ahmed added, “Sometimes it’s good to be, you know, a big, excited puppy. And I feel like America has that freshness, that youth as a nation. It’s infectious. And as a creative person, coming here and meeting people, it’s super-exciting. “
Nair introduced her cast — Ahmed, Kate Hudson and Kiefer Sutherland — along with “Fundamentalist” novelist Mohsin Hamid. Liev Schreiber was not present. “He’s singing for his supper on the West Coast,” said Nair, who also talked about her next project. She’ll be bring “Monsoon Wedding” to Broadway as a musical. Nine of the 11 songs are already written.
“It’s a whole new form,” said Nair.