Surrounded by an international crew of veterans in the film industry, 24 year-old first time Moroccan director Aziz Tazi directs 5 major Hollywood actors for his first feature film Night Walk, a controversial story about Islam in America. The movie is a rom-com developing into a crime drama set in present-day America and the Middle East.
The team has already gathered a powerhouse cast with names such as Academy-Award® nominee Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight, The Expendables) who plays a corrupt American judge and Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister (The Fifth Element, Jackie Brown) who is the lead Muslim inmate mentoring the young protagonist. "After working for 31 years and on over 200 films, including five $100M pictures, I’ve been waiting to play 3 specific roles: Satan, Jesus, and a Muslim.", explains Lister. "When I learned about this character in Night Walk, I immediately sought out to play this incredible role. I’m very excited about the entire project and this great cast.", he adds.
When an American atheist is wrongfully imprisoned by corrupt Islamic police for the murder of his Arabic girlfriend; his quest for justice turns into a spiritual journey lead by Muslim inmates, ranging from the moderate convert to terror-linked extremists.
The film alternatively tells the story of a man at two stages of his life: As he takes a spiritual journey in the direst of conditions in prison and as he falls in love with an Arabic woman. It’s a tale weaving together themes of injustice with corruption, in a context of culture shock between the West and the Middle East.
The project has already started filming in Los Angeles, CA and is in talks with countries like Morocco, Egypt and Turkey to shoot the Middle-Eastern scenes.
The cast also includes Richard Tyson (Kindergarten Cop, There’s Something About Mary) Louis Mandylor (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) and Patrick Kilpatrick (Minority Report, The Eraser) who embody an intransigent prison system unwary of inmates conditions. "The film swirls with very present religious extremism, hate and love, the power of forgiveness and the journey to justice. Aside from that, the role of the prison guard is pretty nuanced.", affirms Kilpatrick who is running for a nomination for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for his role in NCIS: Los Angeles.
Frank, the lead role, is played by no other than Richie Chance who runs the famous Expressions Unlimited acting school in Los Angeles. "I am honored to be cast as Frank and to work alongside the stars I have been a huge fan of since I started acting as a kid. Night Walk is going to create a much needed conversation about Islam in the USA. For most Americans like myself, I normally only hear about Islam when it’s in the news and is relating to a negative subject. Aziz has written a story that will bring a new perspective to a subject that has been for years, a sensitive one, by showcasing the battle for good against evil with sensitivity and insight." As to his love interest, Sarah, the team hasn’t settled on a name yet. "We saw hundreds of talents during the audition process as it is very important for us to find a powerful actress who meets a specific number of criteria including the ability to speak Arabic.", says Executive Producer Keith Barrows who is going through an exhaustive search locally and internationally. "We’re still looking for the Middle-Eastern gem."
The story has been eloquently put together by Writer/Director Aziz Tazi. Tazi is a child of three worlds: Morocco, France and America. Driven by a burning passion for filmmaking, he left the North African country at age 17 to seek better opportunities abroad and only recently settled in Los Angeles to tackle a very daring and controversial topic for his first feature. "Islam has always been a big part of my life. I was blessed to be raised in a liberal country", says the filmmaker. "Growing up, I was taught to be respectful, considerate of people and keep an open mind. Those are the qualities that I gave to my heroes while my villains embody all the abuses that I denounce, from islamophobia to religious extremism including corruption. I want my audience to be equally balanced between unprejudiced curious non-Muslims and intelligent receptive Muslims. I believe that a strong thing I have going for my distinct voice is my insider understanding of Muslim culture. If change comes from within then I want to be that Muslim who defies the fundamentalists. I want to fight them – not with violence, but with brains. And a very powerful way to do that is through film. That’s why I wrote this story and that’s why I strongly believe this story needs to be told."
This one seems to be pretty exciting and worth a definite dekko when it releases.