YASSIN FALAFEL | short film

Yassin Terou never had any intention of leaving Syria. His family was there. Work. Friends. But war forced him to leave it all behind. He relocated to Knoxville, Tennessee, with a suitcase and a few hundred dollars. He spoke no English and knew no one in the United States. He went there anyway to rebuild his life and pursue his dream of perfect falafel. In Knoxville, Yassin went to his local mosque and asked for work, but they could only offer him food and monthly assistance. He asked if he could start selling homemade falafel and juices at the mosque, the kind they had back in Syria. The kind he loved and missed. Yassin got two plastic tables and a Square Reader, and started making falafel sandwiches, about twenty at a time, at his shared apartment. He’d run them over to the mosque and sell them after every Friday service. He would sell out every week—and he did this for two years. “I wasn’t making money but I was happy doing something,” he says. Yassin was approached by Nadeem Saddiqi, an imam at the mosque and native of Knoxville, about opening a restaurant. He was impressed by Yassin’s passion and dedication, but mostly he loved his falafel: “It was some of the best I ever had.” They found a space downtown and Yassin’s Falafel House was born.

"One of my dreams is to get our message everywhere. Even the people who decide, oh, they don’t like Muslims, they don’t like refugees, they don’t like immigrants, we have to change their ideas about it. And that’s our job and that’s our message. If you believe in something, you don’t have to leave it and just go. I say, “No.” We’re going to keep the American dream going because this country is for everybody." - Yassin Terou


Production Company: Even/Odd
Executive Producers: Malcolm Pullinger & Mohammad Gorjestani
Creative Director: Malcolm Pullinger
Director: Mohammad Gorjestani
Producer: Ashley Rodholm 
Director of Photography: Devin Whetstone 
Colorist: Ayumi Ashley @ Mission Film and Design
Sound Design/Mix: Joel Raabe
Composer: Keith Kenniff

Square Creative Team:
Creative Director: Sean Conroy
Head of Production: Justin Lomax
Editor: Carl Sturgess
Assistant Editor: Steven Dupré
Post Production Supervisor: Nicholas Brown
Production Coordinator: Lisa Yadao