Movie Review: To Be Young, Gay and Muslim in Bed-Stuy

By Stephen Holden
Film poster for Naz & Maalik
The endearing title characters of Jay Dockendorf’s film “Naz & Maalik” are 18-year-old best friends who recently became lovers, living in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a Brooklyn neighborhood in the throes of gentrification. Naz (Kerwin Johnson Jr.) and Maalik (Curtiss Cook Jr.) are closeted and Muslim, and especially for Naz, the Islamic taboo against homosexuality weighs heavily. Both live with observant Muslim families for whom any sex outside of marriage is forbidden. Naz’s disapproving sister, Cala (Ashleigh Awusie), discovers their secret and teasingly threatens to expose them. [link]
Curtiss Cook Jr., left, and Kerwin Johnson Jr. in “Naz & Maalik.” Credit Wolfe Video
Film poster designed by Dana Davis for Naz + Maalik. Written and Directed by Jay Dockendorf.