World-renowned comedian and actor Maz Jobrani, explains what it's like to be an Iranian American in Hollywood in his new bestselling book, I'm Not a Terrorist, But I've Played One on TV, a hilarious and moving memoir of growing up Iranian in America, and the quest to make it in Hollywood without having to wear a turban, tote a bomb, or get kicked in the face by Chuck Norris. Following the book release, Jobrani set out on a comedy tour explaining how he overcame Hollywood stereotypes and forged a path to stardom in an industry that only saw him as the perfect TV terrorist. Jobrani is a Levantine cultural ambassador.
Read about the book from Maz Jobrani's POV here.
Sharia, a new film from Algerian American director Anouar Smaine, presents the story of a couple in the United States that is grappling with American perceptions of Islam and the Quran, and a Muslim immigrant's attempt to distance himself from his religious heritage. In Sharia, three worlds collide—American, Arab and Muslim—and no one is ever quite the same. Smaine's film was screened in the Borrego Film Festival and has been accepted into the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. Meet the director, discuss the film with cast/crew including Said Faraj, Lauren Byrnes and Mike Batayeh. RSVPs 323.413.2001.
In Sharia, Heather and Sofiane are a "mixed" couple—Heather is American, Sofiane is from the Middle East. She sees in him the spiritual change she'd been trying to make in her life for years, just as he sees in her the freedom he'd been longing for since he immigrated to America. But as their journey together begins, their vision diverges and it won't be long before Heather and Sofiane discover that what they've gotten themselves into isn't exactly what they had envisioned, but rather what they'd been trying to get away from.
On the Side of the Road is an Israeli documentary film written and directed by Lia Tarachansky that focuses on Israeli collective denial of the events of 1948 that led to the country's independence and the Palestinian refugee problem. It follows war veterans Tikva Honig-Parnass and Amnon Noiman as they tackle their denial of their actions in the war. The film also tells the story of the director, an Israeli who grew up in the Ariel settlement in the West Bank, but as an adult began to realize the problems of the Israeli Occupation for the Palestinians. The film was shot over the course of five years and premiered at the First International Independent Film Festival in Tel Aviv.
Lia Tarachansky follows the transformation of Israeli veterans trying to uncover their denial of the war that changed the region forever. She then turns the camera on herself and travels back to her settlement where that historical erasure gave birth to a new generation, blind and isolated from its surroundings. Attempting to shed a light on the country's biggest taboo, she is met with outrage and violence.
The filmmaker will introduce the film amd do a Q & A after the screening. This special director's screening with Tarachansky presented by LA Jews for Peace and the Levantine Cultural Center, with support from JVP-LA. New Voices in Middle Eastern Cinema with support from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
LCC with Muslims for Progressive Values presents a special cast & crew screening of the short ABAN & KHORSHID, the story of two lovers in Tehran.
Two American filmmakers/artists talk about the challenges and rewards of making films about women living their daily lives in Cairo and Damascus. Each of the films, made in very different styles, chronicle a period right before Egypt and Syria were gripped by revolutionary turmoil. Short clips from each film will be shown in advance of the discussion. The participants include artist Judith Barry on Cairo Stories (Egypt) (info-duration) and director Julia Meltzer on The Light in Her Eyes (Syria, Info-duration, co-directed with Laura Nix), with moderator Sarah Gualtieri, author of Between Arab and White: Race and Ethnicity in the Early Syrian American Diaspora and Director of the Middle East Studies Program at USC. Seating is limited, tickets are $15, $10 students/members. Watch The Light in Her Eyes trailer here.
Jonathan Demme, Les Filmes Du Nouveau Monde and the Levantine Cultural Center's New Voices in Middle Eastern Cinema series present a special screening of Nabil Ayouch's HORSES OF GOD in advance of the 86th Annual Academy Awards. Members and Levantine supporters are invited to attend at Raleigh Studios, Chaplin Theatre.
HORSES OF GOD, a film by Nabil Ayouch, is inspired by the novel The Stars of Sidi Moumen by Mahi Binebine. It is Morocco's official entry for the 86th Annual Academy Awards. Nabil Ayouch is among Morocco's top contemporary filmmakers. Read more in Variety.
We are raising funds for our project "Heroes of the Middle East & North Africa." This initiative proposes to create a large mural depicting cultural icons such as Rumi, Khalil Gibran, Fairuz, Naguib Mahfouz and other poets, writers, filmmakers, musicians and artists who are symbols of peace through the arts.
The "Heroes" mural is an educational experience and an anti-war statement that intends to humanize the Middle East and North Africa, following on the heels of the Arab Spring. The mural will be completed early in 2014 and will grace the wall of the Levantine Cultural Center in Los Angeles.
The AFI Fest 2013 presented by Audi and the Levantine Cultural Center offer two special screenings of Hany Abu-Abbad's latest feature, after The Courier and Paradise Now. (Sun., 4 pm, Nov. 10; Mon, 10 pm, Nov. 11 at the TCL Chinese Theatre.) Omar is not afraid to climb over the Israeli walls in Palestine using surreptitious rope ladders; having sniper fire whiz past his head is a part of daily life for Omar and his best friend, Tarek. Ironically, the most dangerous thing in Omar's life is the fact that he's in love with Nadia, Tarek's sister.
When military intelligence investigates the death of a checkpoint patrolman, they realize that Omar's relationship can be used to leverage information. From this tale of hidden love comes an intense portrait of life in the West Bank. Director Hany Abu-Assad throws these characters into a world of dangerous loyalties and betrayals where something as simple as young love can be exploited. OMAR is a drama that reveals Assad's compassionate view of life, empathizing deeply with human beings trapped in circumstances beyond their control.
The 17th Annual Arab Film Festival (AFF) opens in Los Angeles on October 18, 2013 at the Harmony Gold Theatre with When Monaliza Smiled as the spotlight film. The festival also features Detroit Unleaded, Casablana Mon Amour, Mars at Sunrise and They Were Promised the Sea, among ten additional titles.
The Arab Film Festival is the largest independent annual showcase of Arab films and filmmakers in the country. The festival has an international standing and is considered one of the most important Arab film festivals outside the Arab world. It strives to present the best contemporary films that provide insight into the beauty, complexity and diversity of the Arab world alongside realistic perspectives on Arab people, culture, art, history and politics.
The Arab Film Festival presents a documentary that explores the stories of the Arab Jews of Morocco. With They Were Promised the Sea, filmmaker Kathy Wazana set out to discover why hundreds of thousands of Jews left Morocco in the 1960s, believing their Arab homeland had become enemy territory. What she found was a country still grieving the loss of its Jewish population. Her "enemy" welcomed her home and claimed her as one of their own.
They Were Promised the Sea is an intimate journey shot in Morocco, Israel-Palestine, and New York. Kathy's research into her family origins in Morocco unleashed a complex web of questions about dual identity, political opportunism, and the challenges faced by those torn between Homeland and Promised Land.