Rite of Passage (trailer) from Talha Jalal on Vimeo.

The MetroCard vending machine has guarded all that is mundane and special about the New York Subway since 1999. As the old ticketing system gives way to a new, digital one, the bustling underground braces for the inevitable change that could undo its long-held liminality between home and work, and between the public and the private. Things are easier now, but convenience comes at a price.

Talha Jalal is interested in people, places and ideas that exist in a state of inbetweenness: refugees and migrants, metropolitan cities, and the varied discontents of white hegemonies. Born in Pakistan, he has worked in the Middle East, Europe and the United States as a writer, humanitarian and public policy specialist. He is the author of “Memoirs of the Badshahi Mosque” (OUP, 2013). In 2017, while serving with Doctors Without Borders, he designed a rehabilitation program for victims of torture from Syria. He was also the Middle East regional manager with Danish Refugee Council. During the pandemic, he led the design and implementation of the world’s largest humanitarian scheme for COVID-19 vaccines as a public policy specialist at the Gavi Alliance. He studied international relations at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University and documentary film at The New School.


2023 NBR Student Grant


Type of Project





The New School

Producer, Editor, Cinematographer

Talha Jalal