Nijla Baseema Mu’min is an award-winning writer and filmmaker from the East Bay Area. Her work is informed by poetry, photography, fiction, and dance. Named one of 25 New Faces of Independent Film by Filmmaker Magazine in 2017, she tells stories about black girls and women who find themselves between worlds and identities.
Her 2011 short film Two Bodies has screened at festivals across the country, including the Pan African Film Festival, Outfest, Frameline and Newfest. Her writing appears in the critically acclaimed book, Love InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women, and she's also written film and cultural criticism for VICE, Shadow and Act on the Indiewire Network, Bitch Media, Gawker, and The Los Angeles Times. In 2011, she worked as a Production Assistant on Ava DuVernay’s film, Middle of Nowhere.
She is a recipient of the 2012 Princess Grace Foundation- Cary Grant Film Award for her graduate thesis film, Deluge, which has screened at BAMcinematek in Brooklyn, Blackstar Film Festival in Philadelphia and The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA). In 2014, she was one of 10 writers selected for the Second Annual Sundance Institute Screenwriters Intensive. She is the winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Screenplay at the 2014 Urbanworld Film Festival, for her script Noor. In 2015, she was selected for the prestigious New York Film Festival's Artist Academy.
Her script for Jinn has received several good ratings on the industry script database The Black List. Her 2015 short film, Dream has screened at the the Pan African Film Festival, Urbanworld Film Festival, and the first annual Black Bottom Film Festival, honoring the legacy of famed playwright August Wilson. It was later acquired by Issa Rae Productions ("Insecure," HBO) for the #ShortFilmSundays series on Youtube, where it has amassed over 70,000 views. In 2016, she raised over $25,000 through Kickstarter for Jinn, and was selected for Film Independent’s Fast Track program and Panavision's New Filmmaker Program. She was selected as the first-prize winner of the Islamic Scholarship Fund's Film Grant, and was selected as a resident for the San Francisco Film Society's FilmHouse Residency program. In 2017, Jinn was selected for IFP's Narrative Lab and as a recipient of SFFILM's Rainin Film Grant. In July, Nijla was selected to attend the 2017 Sundance Institute Sound and Music Design Lab at Skywalker Ranch.
Her debut feature film, Jinn, starring Zoe Renee, Simone Missick (Netflix’s “Luke Cage”), and Kelvin Harrison Jr. premiered in narrative competition at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival, where she won the Special Jury Recognition Award for writing. In May 2018, she directed an episode of Ava DuVernay's critically-acclaimed OWN television series "Queen Sugar," for season three. At the 2018 American Black Film Festival (ABFF), she won the award for Best Screenplay, presented by Time Warner. Zoe Renee, the lead actress in Jinn, won the award for Spotlight Actor, presented by NBC. The film was acquired by Orion Classics for a November 2018 release. Nijla currently writes for the Apple/Imagine series “Swagger,” executive-produced by Reggie Rock Bythewood and Kevin Durant. She is also currently developing her second feature film.
Mu'min is a graduate of UC Berkeley, and also attended Howard University's MFA Film Program, where she was the recipient of the 2009 Paul Robeson Award for Best Feature Screenplay. She is a 2013 dual-degree graduate of CalArts' MFA Film Directing and Writing programs.