Kumail Nanjiani: What 2017 Films Meant to Me


Awards Circuit reached out to several of this year’s awards contenders and asked them to write the answer to the question, “What did 2017 films mean to me?”  Through the lens of actors, writers, filmmakers, and craftsmen and women, we will hear directly from the talent themselves and have them reflect on a year that has proven both successful and challenging.  

“What 2017 Films Meant to Me”
by Kumail Nanjiani (co-writer and star of “The Big Sick“)

Personally, this year has truly been a life-changing one for me and my wife, Emily V. Gordon. We got to tell our story in a movie and watch that movie succeed beyond anything we could have hoped for. We’ve had the privilege of meeting other people in the film industry whose work has inspired and moved us for decades. It’s been thrilling & satisfying.

The industry as a whole, of course, has seen a major shift. We’ve heard revelations of rampant sexual abuse that have led to the shaming & dismissal of some very high-profile men in Hollywood.

These stories are devastating and very difficult to read. But, ultimately, that they are being told inspires some hope. We are hearing stories we hadn’t heard before, from voices who had been silenced.

On red carpets, we’ll get asked: “How do you feel celebrating at a time like this?” The truth is, these things had always been happening; we just didn’t know about them. To me, that’s much more devastating.

I hope these revelations lead to a change in the industry. For all the progress we’ve made, it’s still a male-dominated industry. We need more women – not just behind the camera, but in all aspects of the business. We need more female crew members, more female studio executives, more female financiers. I truly believe that will result in not just a more inclusive industry, but better movies as well.

And that is what this year in movies has taught me most of all: that stories from different perspectives are welcome and, more importantly, financially viable. Some of the biggest box office successes of the year are movies from new and diverse points of view.

Get Out,” from a first-time director, viscerally captures the experience of being a black person in America. “Wonder Woman” is a female superhero movie, directed by a female director, that was one of the biggest films of the year. They are both amazing examples of how to bring freshness to aging genres (horror, superheroes) by telling the story from a new point of view.

We’ve had a lot of stories told from South Asian perspectives this year. But the vast majority of them have been from straight male South Asian perspectives. We need to do better. Selfishly, I’d love to see more stories from female South Asian perspectives and gay South Asian perspectives.

2017 has taught us that audiences are hungry for new and diverse stories and fresh perspectives. Studios, I hope, have learned that lesson and realize they can make these movies and still see them find an audience. I hope we get to see more and more of them. I think we will.

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Written by Kumail Nanjiani

Kumail Nanjiani was born on February 21, 1978, in Karachi, Pakistan. He is an actor and producer, known for The Big Sick (2017), Life as We Know It (2010) and Central Intelligence (2016). He has been married to Emily V. Gordon since July 14, 2007.


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Phill Milner

You deserve all of your success, Kmuail. The Big Sick was fantastic and so were you. Thank you for this gem.



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