â€“ Funny and Moving Documentary Shares the Story of a Young Man Whose Passion Pushes Him to Learn to Fly Despite Pressures from Society and His Family â€“
Whether we want to or not many Americanâ€™s knee jerk reaction when they hear about Muslims and flying is September 11, 2001. So knowing the risks and reactions â€“ what would make a Muslim-American man want to learn how to fly post-9/11? In the moving film, On a Wing and a Prayer, viewers meet Monem Salam, his wife Iman and their children during the course of Monemâ€™s decision to follow his passion and attempt to secure his pilotâ€™s license.
Monem is a financial advisor, the son of a Pakistani commercial pilot. His wife Imanâ€™s family is Palestinian and although initially dubious about the marriage, now accepts the cultural differences. With three young children, Imanâ€™s prankish student days are behind her. Sheâ€™s happy to find time to cultivate her inner domestic diva, wisecracking about her entertaining skills and her husbandâ€™s flight plans. Monemâ€™s â€œgreenâ€ decision to commute by scooter, only heightens his Mr. Bean-like appearance. In the aftermath of 9/11, the flying lessons are not so easy to arrange and once underway, itâ€™s a bumpy ride filled with technical glitches and confusion. Itâ€™s a situation that Iman doesnâ€™t hesitate to comment on. This gently funny film follows Monem as he works towards his goal, engaging his wife, family and community in the process.
â€œAs American citizens each and every one of us, no matter our religious affiliations, has the freedom to follow our passions,â€ notes On a Wing and a Prayer producer/director Max Kaiser from Handcrank Films. â€œMonemâ€™s father was a commercial airline pilot for 25 years, instilling in Monem the love of flight yet societyâ€™s perceptions of Muslims made his journey a very difficult one yet it did not deter Monem from following his heart.â€
â€œItâ€™s a very special story and when I first saw Monem and his wife in the film, I knew this was something that would resonate strongly with television audiences,â€ adds Alex Kronemer, executive producer at Unity Productions Foundation. â€œThis is not just a story about a Muslim-American as he learns to fly, it is also about a young family and their everyday struggles with money, work-life balance, family, community and beyond. This is a powerful story about family, which is what makes it perfect for public television.â€
On a Wing and a Prayer: An American Muslim Learns to Fly follows Monem as he enrolls in an open-minded flying school, where he soon draws the attention of the FBI, which confirms his familyâ€™s fears. Despite this, and other indignities, Monem continues his quest.
The film delves deep into the hearts and minds of a devout Muslim family living in small-town America. They laugh, they hope and they experience heartache, victories and failures in pursuit of their American dream. These modern-day Americans cast off stereotypes and refuse to succumb to victimhood despite being denied privileges afforded most other Americans.
Co-produced in 2007 by Unity Productions Foundation and Hand Crank Films, On a Wing and a Prayer: An American Muslim Learns to Fly is presented and distributed by American Public Television through the Exchange to public television stations nationwide.