Hamtramck, USA

Filmmaker: Justin Feltman, Razi Jafri
Runtime: 93 mins

Synopsis: Hamtramck, Michigan is a city built by immigrants. The city thrived thanks to Polish Catholic immigrants drawn to the industrial boom of America. In the late 1990’s, Bangladeshi and Yemeni Muslim immigrants revitalized this post-industrial city. this new wave of immigrants aim to gain representation in city hall.

Karen Majewski, Hamtramck’s first female mayor in the city’s 100 year lineage of Polish mayors, is seeking her fourth term as mayor. Kamal Rahman, a community activist leading a grassroots movement. He campaigns across cultural and ethnic divides but focuses on the real fight; the Bangladeshi vote. Challenging both Karen and Kamal, Councilmember Mohammad Hassan served 8 years on city council and is well established within Bangladeshi politics.

Fadel is the youngest candidate running. At 23 years old and one of the only Iraqi immigrants in the city, Fadel sees himself as an outsider. However, he quickly gains supporters, not because of a shared ethnicity but because of his sincere vision for a better Hamtramck. Along the way, Abraham Aiyash, a young Yemeni community activists who grew up with him, helps guide Fadel through the election process; reminding him who he is and what he represents.

Through the election cycle, candidate’s face challenges and opportunities within each community, including their own. Through the exploration of the city’s rich history, cultural celebrations, and this heated election, Hamtramck, USA wrestles with identity politics, power dynamics, and the immigrant experience in America.


About the Filmmaker

Razi Jafri is a Detroit based documentary photographer and filmmaker whose work focuses on religion, race, politics, immigration, and the changing cultural landscape in America. His own experience as a Muslim immigrant has informed much of his work.

Razi served as a mentor in Kartemquin Films Diverse Voices in Docs (DVID) Fellowship. He has been awarded fellowships by Facing Change: Documenting Detroit, the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), The Salzburg Global Forum, and most recently, the Knight Foundation Fellowship at the Sundance Film Festival.

Razi became a documentary photographer and filmmaker after a ten-year engineering career in the automotive and biomedical industries in order to pursue more meaningful work. Razi is an alumnus of the University of Michigan-Dearborn where he received a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

Justin Feltman – Co-Director & Producer
Justin graduated from Pacific Union College, where he studied Film and Business Administration with a Marketing emphasis. His Senior year, he produced the short film, Heaven, which took home the award for the school’s Best Senior Thesis.

Justin worked on several independent films, such as I Am I and Struck by Lightning, as well as several documentaries, Napa Valley Dreams and CHECK IT. He produced several short films, music videos, and a web series. He currently creates video content for nonprofits and small businesses throughout the DC area.