While Malala Yousafzai’s one project misses out on an Oscar nomination, her other venture gets a nod at the 95th Academy Awards. Malala, who announced boarding Stranger at the Gate earlier is month, expressed gratitude after the documentary was nominated in the Best Documentary Short Film category. 

Directed and produced by Joshua Seftel, Stranger at the Gate tells the tale of a US Marine, Richard “Mac” McKinney, who initially planned on bombing a mosque but instead converted to Islam. Impressed by the Muslims in the mosque, he abandoned the plan of bombing the mosque and converted to Islam instead. He is now the president of the said mosque.

“This film is a powerful true story of forgiveness and redemption,” Yousafzai had said in a statement to Variety. “I hope the film challenges every viewer to question their assumptions and show kindness to everyone they meet.” She later shared on Twitter, “When I first saw this film, it opened my mind and changed my perspective. I am honoured to support Joshua Seftel’s Stranger at the Gate, a powerful true story about redemption.”

In an interview with Star Press, McKinney recalled, “These people were killers,” of his first impression of those inside the center. Those inside, however, saw the ex-Marine as troubled and in need of their friendship.

“When Josh Seftel, director of Stranger at the Gate, contacted me as the president of the Islamic Center of Muncie with the idea for this short film,” Bibi Bahrami shared. “I jumped at the opportunity to showcase how our Muslim community in Muncie was able to welcome Mac with open arms.”

Bibi Bahrami celebrated the nomination Tuesday as another catalyst, such as the center she and her husband founded, for continued peace and understanding. “My husband and I are absolutely blessed to be able to contribute and make a difference towards improving understanding and reducing hatred across communities in the US,” Bibi Bahrami added. 

“After 9/11, our Muslim community had a significant concern and stress of the safety and livelihoods of our children and grandchildren, with rising Islamophobia and increased hate crimes towards Muslims,” she continued, “I feel humble and blessed that my husband Saber, my son Zaki, and I are part of this amazing message that shows how love and understanding can always overcome hate. We are grateful to live in this beautiful country, a great nation, filled with amazing people who are standing and fighting for the truth.”


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