In Search of Bengali Harlem

America ReFramed
  • Feature Film
  • 2024
  • 90 Mins

As a teenager in 1980s Harlem, Alaudin Ullah was swept up in the revolutionary energy of hip-hop. He rejected his working-class Bangladeshi parents and turned his back on everything South Asian and Muslim. Now an actor and playwright facing the Islamophobia of post-9/11 Hollywood, Alaudin wants to tell his parents' stories, but knows nothing of the lives they led as Muslim immigrants of an earlier era. In Search of Bengali Harlem follows Alaudin from the streets of New York City to the villages of Bangladesh to unearth the pasts of his father, Habib, and mother, Mohima. Alaudin discovers an extraordinary history of mid-20th century Harlem in which his father and hundreds of other Bengali men dodged racist Asian Exclusion laws and married into African American and Puerto Rican communities. Then, after crossing the globe, Alaudin learns unsettling truths about his mother: about the hardships and trauma that she overcame to become one of the first women to migrate to the U.S. from rural Bangladesh. In Search of Bengali Harlem is a transformative journey, not just for Alaudin, but for our understanding of the complex histories of South Asians and Muslims in the United States. Streaming on WORLD.

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Film Credits

  • Vivek Bald Director
  • Alaudin Ullah Director
  • Susannah Ludwig Producer