The Syed Family Xmas Eve Game Night Hits the Festivals!

SpeakOut Films' first short feature film production, THE SYED FAMILY XMAS EVE GAME NIGHT, had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and its U.S. premiere at the Chicago International Film Festival in October 2022! Since then, we continue making the rounds on the film festival circuit, across North America and the world!

THE SYED FAMILY XMAS EVE GAME NIGHT follows Noor, a queer Pakistani Muslim woman who brings her Puerto Rican girlfriend home for the first time on the family's annual game night -- which happens to fall on Christmas Eve! All cards are on the table when Noor's eldest sister unexpectedly shows up, sending the night into chaos and putting all their relationships to the test. The short film explores themes of sisterhood, belonging, and breaking the rules of tradition.

​As the filmmakers explain: "A landmark report from USC's Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and the Pillars Fund underscores what we've been feeling as queer Muslim women and non-binary people in the film industry: 'Muslim characters are missing in popular film.' Muslims makes up 24% of the world's population, but the report found that out of nearly 9,000 film speaking parts, fewer than 2% were Muslim with only one LGBTQ+ Muslim character." View the reports here.

THE SYED FAMILY XMAS EVE GAME NIGHT was created as a romantic comedy to normalize our identities on screen and to lift up the importance of joy in our experiences, something that is so needed during these times.



Kausar Mohammed • Screenwriter / Producer / Actor (Noor)

Kausar Mohammed is a Bengali-Pakistani writer, actress, and comedian born in San Jose, California. She is a writer/performer in the distinguished all- South Asian comedy troupe, The Get Brown, and in the 2021 CBS Diversity Showcase. Kausar plays series lead in Paul Feig's (“Bridesmaids”) dramedy, EAST OF LA BREA. She also has worked alongside Taraji P. Henson on the film WHAT MEN WANT (Paramount), Issa Rae on the film LITTLE (Universal), and has additional credits on shows such as SILICON VALLEY (HBO), BLACK LIGHTNING (CW), and CAROL'S SECOND ACT (CBS). Kausar also voices lead characters on Steven Spielberg’s two animated series, JURASSIC WORLD: CAMP CRETACEOUS (Netflix) and the hit anime show, GREAT PRETENDER (Netflix). This Fall 2021, you can see her starring on an upcoming CW show.


Fawzia Mirza • Director
Fawzia Mirza is a director, writer, performer, creator who believes in the power of comedy to tackle divisive topics and breakdown stereotypes. She was named a White House ‘Champion of Change’ in Asian American Art and Storytelling, a ‘Top 10 Creative’ (Indiewire), '10 Filmmakers to Watch' (Independent Magazine), an alum of Tribeca Film Institute’s All Access Program, a Canada Arts Council grantee, and one of the Chicago Dept. of Cultural Affairs inaugural ‘Esteemed Artists.’ Her first feature, SIGNATURE MOVE, which she cowrote, produced and stars in, world premiered at SXSW, screened 150+ film festivals globally, won 14 awards (Outfest Grand Jury Prize, Best US Narrative), available on Amazon/itunes. She wrote on the CBS series THE RED LINE, executive produced by Greg Berlanti and Ava DuVernay.

Amalia Mesa • Producer
Amalia Mesa is an independent film producer and managing director of SpeakOut - The Institute for Democratic Education and Culture. She spent a decade working on film and television productions in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and San Francisco, helping to develop and produce projects for HBO, Universal, Marvel Studios, 20th Century Fox, BET, and National Geographic, among others. Now, Amalia uses her experiences across the film industry and social impact sector to bring media projects to life that exist at the intersection of social justice, education and culture, and amplify often overlooked resources, talent, and stories. She is a graduate of UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television.

D'Lo • Actor (David)
D’Lo is a queer/transgender Tamil-Sri Lankan-American actor/writer/comedian whose work ranges from stand-up comedy, solo theater, plays, films and music production, to poetry and spoken word. He was part of the Emmy-nominated mini-doc series THIS IS ME and his other tv/film credits include LOOKING (HBO), TRANSPARENT (Amazon), SENSE 8 (Netflix), and BRUISING FOR BESOS. D'Lo also appears in various Buzzfeed videos, on the web series EASTSIDERS and DYKE CENTRAL and the upcoming Issa Rae/Project Greenlight-produced MINIMUM WAGE. D'Lo is currently in development on a scripted series based on his life that is set up at BTR Media and Paul Feig’s Powderkeg Media.

Vico Ortiz • Actor (Luce)
Non-Binary performer born and raised in Puerto Rico by actors Gerardo Ortiz and Evelyn Rosario, Victoria Ortiz (also known as Vico) was influenced by the arts from the day they were born. Once high school was over, they packed their bags and moved to Los Angeles, CA to study at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Recent credits include VIDA (Starz), AMERICAN HORROR STORY (FX), and the series THESE THEMS.

Meera Rohit Kumbhani • Actor (Soraya)
Meera is a theater, film, and TV actor whose credits include Netflix’s Uncorked, Netflix’s A Futile & Stupid Gesture, and series regular roles in FOX’s “Weird Loners” and  USA’s “Donny!”. She can also be seen in indie film Dave Made a Maze, as well as Shameless, Life in Pieces, The Mindy Project, The Guest Book, This is Us, an ABC pilot called Charlie Foxtrot, and more.


Pia Shah • Actor (Kiran)
Pia wrote, starred in and produced the short film "The Shower" which has screened at festivals internationally including the Los Angeles Pacific Asian American Film Festival and will next be screened at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles in May 2021. She most recently started opposite Alfred Molina in Florian Zeller’s Tony award winning play THE FATHER. She played Jinky in the fully improvised indie feature film GRASS which is currently streaming on Netflix and played Tanya in the Season 2 premiere episode “FOMO” of the Duplass brother HBO anthology series, ROOM 104 opposite Charlyne Yi. She has acted in television shows such as Mercy, Single Parents Grey’s Anatomy, Good Trouble, Dirty John and ITVS’ Futurestates.


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