CWU News

CWU Film Lecturer Earns International Recognition for Short Film

 A Central Washington University filmmaker has earned international acclaim for a short film he wrote, directed, and produced over the past year. 

Asad Farooqui, a second-year Film Studies lecturer at CWU, screened his 13-minute film, Mabrook, at the world-renowned Palm Springs International Film Festival in June, and has received praise from critics and adulation from his peers.

“We’ve already had two reviews written, which doesn’t usually happen for short films,” said Farooqui, a Pakistani American who joined the Central faculty last fall. “Most short films don’t get reviewed at all, so that was a pretty big honor.”

Farooqui also was invited to present Mabrook — which translates to “Congratulations” in Arabic — at the Atlanta Film Festival, the New Orleans Film Festival, and the Bentonville (Arkansas) Film Festival. Meanwhile, it’s still making the rounds outside the United States, appearing at the International Film Festival of South Asia (IFFSA) in Toronto. 

“The film has had pretty decent luck so far,” he said. “It’s been fun to see so many people from different cultures gravitating toward it.”

Asad FarooquiMabrook is an ensemble piece about a struggling young Pakistani actor whose family doesn’t take his career aspirations seriously. The film is set during the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr, the family celebration that takes place at the end of Ramadan, and follows the protagonist’s journey in trying to navigate his family’s doubts.

Farooqui said the film chronicles many of his own experiences growing up in Atlanta.

“I grew up in a bubble in America, where everything we did, everything we talked about, and everything we ate was Pakistani,” he said. “That’s all I ever knew until I was 17 years old, so this film contains a lot of my personal experiences. But there’s a lot of crossover with different cultures as well. Nationalism matters, and I really wanted to explore that.”

Farooqui said Mabrook is intended for a universal audience, not just those familiar with Pakistani traditions. People from various ethnicities and cultural backgrounds — Indian, Italian, French — often express to him how much they relate to the characters and the story.

Farooqui, who is teaching remotely from his home in Atlanta this fall, is currently working on a feature film adaptation of Mabrook. He also has earned recognition for three more feature-length scripts — an “immigration trilogy,” as he describes them. The first installment, Immigration Game, won Best Screenplay at the Atlanta Film Festival, was a finalist in the Sundance Film Festival Writer’s Lab, and received Faculty Honors at his alma mater, Columbia University.

“Now, I just have to find the money to produce it,” he said.  “It’s gotten a lot of attention, and I really want to make it happen.”

Media contact: David Leder, Department of Public Affairs,, 509-963-1518.