Two Gods

: Documentary
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: In Distribution


Two Gods is the story of a man in Newark who, after turning his life around, has found meaning and purpose in his Muslim faith and work as a mortician.


A man in Newark, after turning his life around, has found meaning and purpose in his Muslim faith and work as a mortician. He builds a bond with two young men as they navigate the road to adulthood in their neighborhood where many kids get pulled down the wrong path.


When we thought about the visual world of the film, we always saw it in black and white. The richness it evokes encapsulated all the emotions of the time spent in Newark- the real authenticity of the summer days with Furquan roaming the streets with his squirt gun, and the spiritual heaviness and stillness of the washing room as a family would gather to say goodbye to their loved one. The fullness of this world could not be restrained by color, but rather told through the feelings of brightness and shadows. The way people find light, find connections, and find purpose.

As we began shooting, we made a lot of very clear decisions on how the film would unfold visually. We wanted to make sure the camera reflected the closeness we had to our subjects. Most of the film is told through medium shots and closeups because it represents how immediate these people were to us and to each other.

Distance was not a factor in most of our storytelling, and when it is, there’s usually a very specific emotional reason (giving a character privacy, reflecting the character’s emotional distance from someone during a period of time, etc). As we then thought about the edit and the other layers of the film (including music and sound) we thought of how to infuse these intimate character pieces with some of the larger emotional and spiritual layers and nuances that were so important. The haunting call to prayer that we open the film with was really an important factor that helped us think about the way we flow between spaces editorially, and also through music and sound. So much of this film is about how characters come together and then drift apart, and we want the edit and world of music and sound in the film to reflect that.

There’s a sense of poetic movement that we feel is important. The textures of this world are rich- the grittiness of the casket shop and the ritual cleansing of the water in the washing room-and they add depth and opportunities for us to hopefully continue exploring as we craft the world of music and sound in our finishing process. The film also weaves together images of nature in a purposeful way.

So often, stories of communities like Newark are told through such a cold and concrete lenses. But in our time spent there we saw that it was always so delicate, the ebbs and flows of life in the ritual reflected by the changing seasons. We wanted to weave together these visuals with the pieces of community, prayer, and ritual, to help craft a world that felt as intimate as the moments between our characters.


Zeshawn Ali - Director

Originally from Ohio, Zeshawn Ali studied film at Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. He’s directed for the documentary series “30 Mosques in 30 Days”. His first feature length documentary, "Two Gods" is currently in post-production and has recently received support from ITVS, Ford Foundation, Tribeca Film Institute, Sundance Institute, Doc Society, IFP, Points North Institute and HotDocs. He is a member of Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective and a filmmaker in residence at Meerkat Media. He is currently based in New York City.

Aman Ali - Producer

Aman Ali is an award-winning storyteller in New York City. He’s made appearances on dozens of media outlets including the NY Times, CNN, Buzzfeed, NBC News and HBO to tell stories about the Muslim American community. He is also one of the creators of 30 Mosques in 30 Days, a 25,000 mile road trip he took to all 50 States in the U.S. with the mission of telling profound stories about Muslims in America.


Connect With The Filmmakers:


The Gotham Film & Media Institute - Fiscal Sponsorship Program 2024
Tribeca Film Institute: All- Access Program (2016)
ITVS (Open Call, 2017)
Hot Docs (Cross Currents Fund 2018)
Sundance Institute (Music and Sound Lab, 2018)
Ford Foundation (JustFilms, 2018)
IFP (Documentary Lab, 2019)
Doc Society (Good Pitch USA, 2019)


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