‘Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football’ Review: Stories of tolerance and football come together on a high school field in engaging doc ‘Fordson’

The players of Fordson High School prepare to take the field in 'Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football.'

Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football

North Shore Films


Running Time: 92 minutes

Grade: B



For Fordson High School football players in the working class section of Dearborn, Michigan, the big game involves hunger, thirst and battles with racial discrimination in addition to quarterback heroics and hard-hitting defensive plays.

Dearborn claims the largest concentration of Arabs outside the Middle East and the majority of its Arab American families send their children to Fordson public high school.

Rashid Ghazi, a Chicago-based sports marketing and TV consultant, tackles the Fordson story in his feature-length documentary Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football with an eye on both the sports drama as well as the social politics.

Ghazi follows four high school football players during the last ten days of Ramadan, Bilal Abu-Omarah, Baquer Sayed, Ali Baidoun and Hassan Houssaiky, and their commitments to team and faith are impressive.

Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football, playing select AMC theaters nationwide via North Shore Films, is the type of story that exists outside the world of celebrity athletes and high-profile college sports that make up the majority of coverage on ESPN and network sports programming. It’s a unique American story worth seeing thanks to the way Ghazi balances the sports drama with the political themes off the field.

Few things are as American as high school football and Ghazi shows how Dearborn’s Arab-American families and their teen athletes have embraced the Fordson team and its long history of team sports.

West Side vs. East Side battles occur in just about every American city and Dearborn’s cross-town competition between the working-class kids of Fordson and the more affluent kids across town at Dearborn High is nothing unusual.

What sets the Fordson story apart are Dearborn’s extensive Arab American community and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 that hang over Dearborn like a dark cloud of intolerance and racial profiling.

Ghazi and editor Ed Pickart make good us of archival news footage to show the impact of 9/11 politics but the film’s best stories are its humanistic tales of families, friendship and faith.

The Arab Spring is underway in the Middle East, events remembering the ten-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks continue throughout the U.S. and immigration continues to be hot button issue in American politics.

Ghazi and writer Ruth Leitman capitalize on current trends involving these off-field political themes surrounding Dearborn in order to show how the high school football experience can be as colorful and diverse as America itself.

Dearborn is a unique American city but Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football reminds us what’s wonderful about the immigrant experience and how communities build and grow around high school football no matter their ethnic heritage or religious denomination.

Grade: B

Distributor: North Shore Films

Cast: Bilal Abu-Omarah, Baquer Sayed, Ali Baidoun, Hassan Houssaiky, Imad Fadlallah, Fouad Zaban

Screenwriter: Ruth Leitman

Director: Rashid Ghazi

Editor: Ed Pickart

Composer: Joel Goodman

Cinematography: Michael Shamus with Mark Berg

Producers: Quraishi Productions

Running Time: 92 minutes

Rating: Unrated

Release Date: Fall 2012

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