Coming AroundDirected by Sandra Itäinen
NOMINEE – Best Documentary Feature
Coming Around follows 28-year-old second-generation Palestinian-Egyptian Brooklynite Eman as she weighs the decision to come out to her devout Muslim mother. Having grown up in Columbia, Missouri with her mother and sister, the three women share a unique tight-knit bond that Eman desperately wants to maintain. But despite being a scholar and visibly “out” among her queer Muslim friends, Eman sits uncomfortably in silence when it comes to her mother. To postpone coming out, she decides to marry her current boyfriend, Q, to give the appearance of strictly hetero relationship interests. The story captures how she struggles with this decision and consequently navigates the opposing expectations of her multiple identities. The main arc of the film is one epic drive from St. Louis airport to Columbia on the evening that Eman comes out, and the film unfolds between that drive and the events that lead up to it, crisscrossing past, present, and future timelines within a frame of non-linearity.
This film will screen in person only.
Directed by Sandra Itäinen
Produced by Sandra Itäinen and Chelsi Bullard
Director’s Bio: Sandra Itäinen is a Finnish film director, producer, and editor based in New York City. Sandra’s directorial feature debut Coming Around premiered at Thessaloniki 2023, nominated for the Golden Alexander in the Newcomers Competition, and is currently in the festival circuit. Documentary editing credits include Tomboy (SXSW, 2020), award-winning Kelet (DocPoint, 2020), the short film “The Water Knows” (Indie Memphis, 2021), as well as the documentary series Breakthrough: Women Changing the Game (Insight TV, UK). In 2021, she directed the short documentary series Noitapiirit (eng. Covens) to critical acclaim for Finnish YLE. Sandra’s first documentary short “The Weaveologist” (2016) screened at multiple film festivals, among others DOC NYC. She is the associate producer of Dark Money (dir. Kimberly Reed) which premiered at Sundance 2018, nominated for Best Documentary Feature. Before moving into film, Sandra worked as a journalist for Finnish YLE. She works to amplify women’s voices through filmmaking, and challenges false societal dichotomies by focusing on themes revolving around identity and family through a millennial lens. She holds an MFA in Documentary Film from the School of Visual Arts and an MSS from the University of Helsinki.