This film focuses on the story of the basketball star and social justice activist Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and the treatment he has endured throughout his life. STAND will capture and examine Abdul-Rauf’s childhood struggles of being bullied due to Tourette’s syndrome and being the target of hate speech and Islamophobia during his basketball career. This documentary will offer viewers a better insight and understanding of him as a person and the struggles he’s experienced based on others’ preconceived notions and judgment. There will also be interviews with various basketball and entertainment stars such as Stephen Curry, Steve Kerr, Shaquille O’Neal, Jalen Rose, Mahershala Ali, and Ice Cube. Each of them will speak on Abdul-Rauf’s importance on and off the court.
Lyons has an extensive background in directing, producing, and writing that has spanned more than a decade in film and television. She was also a part of the 2022 top six finalists in the Academy Gold Fellowship for Women from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.
Joslyn Rose Lyons: It’s been an amazing process so far and I’m grateful to be working on such a profoundly inspiring story. Mahmoud‘s journey is one of great courage and strength, and it’s an honor to help shine a light on the areas of his life that were left out of focus.
How important was it for you to be able to capture and tell the story of basketball star and social justice activist Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf?
Joslyn Rose Lyons: I am inspired by the intersection of art and social justice, creativity and sparking change. I believe our job as storytellers is much like that of the ancient wisdom keeper, there is great medicine in our stories. Cinema speaks that universal language, it surpasses time, and can elevate the mind, just like music, cinema makes you feel things. To me, the job of a great storyteller, or artist of any kind, is to help us feel something. Even if it’s just remembering what it’s like to feel, or getting us in touch with uncharted lands within. I have always been drawn to expressing myself in the language of cinema and I have a responsibility to be a clear vessel, a clear channel, for this story to shine through into the world.
As noted in Variety: “Stand” explores the personal and professional struggles of Abdul-Rauf, from being bullied as a child due to his Tourette’s syndrome to becoming a target of hate speech and Islamophobia during his basketball career. The documentary film features exclusive interviews with several basketball and entertainment stars including Stephen Curry, Steve Kerr, Shaquille O’Neal, Jalen Rose, Mahershala Ali and Ice Cube.
Joslyn Rose Lyons: It’s been a profoundly inspiring and deeply satisfying creative process so far. It is films like this that allow my creativity and imagination to run free like a wild horse, and in that process I find a sense of freedom. I think we are drawn to things that allow us to feel freedom. For me, that’s what creating does, it gives me a sense of freedom. For me there has always been this feeling of freedom when I’m directing because I can be myself in that space. Cinema allows me to play in my own shadows and inspires me to keep searching for the light. Mahmoud’s story carries so much light. And my hope is that viewers will see that light… And, I love this quote by 2PAC: “I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.” That’s what I would want my films to do, to be that spark for change.
Joslyn Rose Lyons: Pressure makes the diamond, friction forms the pearl. So it’s all needed in order to make great work. There’s a book, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles and it says “The more resistance you experience, the more important your unmanifested art/project/enterprise is to you – and the more gratification you will feel when you finally do it.” So resistance is often a sign that you are actually on the right path, we just have to see it as a sign to keep believing in your vision, even when it’s unknown, keep visualizing, and keep seeking the light.