The Invaders

New York City, New York | Film Short

Horror, Thriller

Carrie Radigan

1 Campaigns | New York, United States

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On her way home, Jayla, a Muslim American teenager, notices that she is followed. As feelings of terror and confusion take over, Jayla struggles to escape a powerful force. The Invaders imagines a world in which Islamophobia has created systems without any moral or humanitarian regard.

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About The Project

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Mission Statement

The Invaders centers around Jayla, a Muslim American teenager, and her experience with Islamophobia. Mateo, our writer and director, is a person of color. Our producers are women. Our Production Designer, Assistant Director, Wardrobe, and Hair/Makeup are women of color.

The Story

 Director's Statement


The Invaders is a dramatic representation of the Anti-Muslim sentiment that is spreading through the United States and other Western countries.


Hateful rhetoric and promotion of negative stereotypes have sown uncertainty and fear among Muslims living in the West. They have become victims of violence, marginalization and exclusion from social, political and civil life.  Muslim women and men have been verbally, and sometimes even physically attacked as attitudes towards them have turned to violent extremes.


The Invaders imagines a world in which this hysteria has now been institutionalized, as Jayla, a Muslim American girl, runs in fear from agents of an amoral totalitarian government.  Although our film addresses a contemporary socio-political issue, it borrows techniques from the horror and science-fiction film genres to punch out Jayla’s fear, and the anxiety of her community.



Mike Gialloreto, our Director of Photography, and Mateo decided to keep Jayla’s pursuers off-screen, until the film’s final reveal in order to engage audiences through suspense.  During the first half of the film, the frame almost exclusively shows Jayla, capturing her fear and confusion as she tries to escape an unseen threat. Lighting plays a large role in conveying Jayla’s terror as she first flees, and then attempts to hide.  Images are kept dark, with harsh beams of light bursting through the windows of Jayla’s home, or under doors, representing the approaching menace. This technique combined with fog creeping into the house and amplified sound creates an almost surreal atmosphere.


To make Jayla relatable to broader audiences, and to create an emotional tie, our production and costume designers carefully balanced aspects of Middle-Eastern and American identities in Jayla’s wardrobe and her environment. As an immigrant of Middle-Eastern descent who has spent most of her life in this country, Jayla shares both cultures, and thus wears jeans and the sneakers with a traditional Muslim hijab.


Actress Isra Elsalihie communicates Jayla’s fear and confusion both verbally and non-verbally. When she calls her mother on the phone, she lets her know only that someone is coming for her without being specific. Isra’s performance and the limited information provided to the audience builds tension as the story progresses, thus heightening the satisfaction of the reveal when the masked agents finally enter Jayla’s room.


Using a supernatural sci-fi tone and a slow-paced eeriness, we have shown where we believe the spread and normalization of Islamophobia might lead.  


The Invaders shows what might be a not too distant future that has been shaped by a political agenda feeding and seizing upon popular fear and hysteria.


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About This Team

Mateo Márquez (Writer/Director) A native of New York City, Mateo Márquez obtained a B.A. in Film Studies and Production from City University of New York's renowned Hunter College, where he was selected for a BAFTA Scholarship in 2015.  While gaining experience as a Digital Intermediate Assistant at the SoHo-based post-production house Light Iron, Mateo continues to follow his passion for narrative filmmaking, infusing his projects with stories that challenge existing perceptions of the disenfranchised, as well as themes from his Colombian immigrant heritage.  Mateo’s short film, La Sangre en Nuestras Venas (Blood in Our Veins) received nominations in the Best Director and Best Short Film categories, and won for Best Ensemble at the Queens World Film Festival in 2016, before going on to win Best Picture at Indieworks’s Best of the Fest in 2017.  



Claudia Murdoch (Producer) is an independent film producer living in New York. Most recently, she was an executive producer of Natasha Kermani’s feature film Imitation Girl and a producer of Peter Azen’s feature film Cacaya, as well as the City College MFA thesis film Time is the Longest Distance. Intervention, which Claudia previously produced was nominated in the "Best Short Film" categories at the Rome International Film Festival, the Harlem International Film Festival, the Silent River Film Festival in 2014 and the Sedona International Film Festival in 2015, and brought director Francesca Murdoch the Young Filmmaker Award at the New York City Mental Health Film Festival in 2016.


Claudia co-founded Cup of Joe Film, Inc. with her husband Alastair in 2013, while studying film production at The New School in New York. Claudia has written and directed several of her own short films and is a New Wave Member of New York Women in Film and Television, and a member of SAG-Aftra.


A native of Germany, Claudia pursued Chinese and Indonesian Translation Studies at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, Bonn, and worked in sales and marketing for luxury hotels in London, Hamburg and Berlin, as well as in network development for the direct- advertising agency OgilvyOne worldwide in New York. She obtained a BBA in Marketing with a concentration in International Advertising from Pace University New York, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. Claudia is currently developing a number of new projects.



Carrie Radigan (Producer) is a filmmaker from New Jersey. A background in theater, Carrie received her Bachelor of Arts in Theater and Psychology with a focus in Stage Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. During her time there, she produced The Importance of Being Earnest and Next to Normal for the UMass Theatre Guild. She was a recipient of the Dean’s List, the Academic Engagement Award and the Frank Prentice Rand Scholarship in Drama. Since freelancing in theater, Carrie has worked on Off-Broadway productions including Sex of the Baby (Access Theater), Informed Consent (Primary Stages), as well as other projects such as Then She Fell (Third Rail Projects), The Mostly Mozart Festival (Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts), and CODA (FringeNYC).


Most recently, Carrie is the Client Services Manager at Light Iron New York, a post production house focusing on features and television. At Light Iron, Carrie and Mateo met and started collaborating on The Invaders. She is a member of the New York Post Alliance and Blue Collar Post Collective. She is currently taking The Art of Editing course at the School of Visual Arts to learn more about post production and further her knowledge in cutting.


Carrie is excited to launch her independent filmmaking career with The Invaders and collaborate with artists who start dialogues focusing on the societal issues of our world.




An alumna of the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute’s two-year conservatory program, Isra is a New York-based Swedish-Iraqi actress who now works at the prestigious Actors Studio, and whose credits include theater, film, television and voice-over work.  Off-Broadway, Isra has appeared  as Mary/Majidah in Anne Frank in the Gaza Strip, directed by Shaun Peknic, the associate director of the Broadway show Once, as Aida in The Good Man, directed by N.J. Agwuna, and in the Lord Byron production Transformed Deformed, directed by Michael Seebold.  On television, Isra has appeared in principal roles in the ABC network series What Would You Do? and in Travel Channel’s Mysteries at the Museum, and in a supporting role in the animated children’s series Super Wings, a 2016 International Emmy Kids Awards nominee.  In film, Isra can be seen in the role of Chelsea in the short film Another Girl, written and directed by Austin Kase, which screened at film festivals earlier this year.  2017 will also see the release of the romantic short comedy The Preserve, written and directed by Alec Stadler, and the sci-fi horror short film The Invaders, written and directed by Mateo Marquez, in which Isra can be seen in leading roles. Isra was recently awarded a place at the 24 Hour Plays: Nationals 2017, which seeks to bring together the next generation of theater makers for workshops, panel discussions and the 24 Hour Play theater production, an honor that has previously been bestowed on acting luminaries including Kevin Spacey, Claire Danes, Scarlett Johansson, James McAvoy, and Julianne Moore. 


Current Team