The Stars Are Out

‘Signature Move’ Is Grand Jury Award Winner

By  |’s coverage of “Signature Move,” winner of the Grand Jury Award at Outfest 2017, includes an interview with creator Fawzia Mirza (see video).

Following the screening at the Directors Guild was a Q&A with “Signature Move” director Jennifer Reeder, screenwriters Fawzia Mirza and Lisa Donato, and Mirza’s co-star, Sari Sanchez.

The film was inspired by Mirza’s own experience, as a Muslim lawyer who falls for a woman of Mexican descent. In the film, Zaynab (Mirza) wrestles with her identity as an independent Muslim woman living in Chicago, while under the watchful eye of her traditional mother, played by Bollywood legend Shabana Azmi. To her mother, Zaynab won’t be complete until she meets a Muslim man, and she keeps watch for one from her perch at Zaynab’s apartment window.

Zaynab meets her match, though, in Alma (Sanchez), although she refuses to accept that the time they spend together is a temporary arrangement.

Zaynab works things out, rather comically, with the help of her client Jayde (Audrey Francis), who can’t pay cash for her consulting services, but compensates the attorney with lessons in the wrestling ring. Francis is not only a Chicago actor, but also founder and co-owner of Black Box Acting, which explains why her moves in the ring appear effortless.

The film eloquently depicts the differences between the two cultures, while seamlessly capturing the similarities, especially in the relationships among family members. Sanchez’s mother is played by Charin Alvarez, a veteran actor in Chicago theater. 

For more about the film see the website.

Journalist Laurie Schenden covers the entertainment industry, with many of her notable celebrity interviews appearing in the Los Angeles Times and other national and international publications. As a longtime columnist and feature writer for the LA Times, she also covered events and California destinations for the lifestyle, Outdoors and Travel sections. Laurie Schenden's international pieces include the long-running Where Are They Now celebrity feature for Spotlight Magazine, published in five languages. Laurie has also contributed to numerous documentary films, and produces content via Saving Grace Films.

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