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In conjunction with the new exhibition War and People: Art, Exile and the Middle East, four Southern California-based poets read from two recent collections of poetry, Dear Darwish and With Our Eyes Wide Open, that explore the effects of war and exile on people in South Asia, the Middle East and the Americas.
With Our Eyes Wide Open: Poems of the New American Century, focuses on the impact of recent wars on populations around the world specially the U.S. wars in Southeast Asia (Vietnam etc.), Central America, and the Middle East. This international anthology of poetry explores the impact of the United States in wars as well as upon the "nobodies"-outcasts, immigrants, the working class: "They [the poets]...represent an emerging poetic consciousness which is helping todefine and shape the imagination and language of the 21st Century." Using a call-and-response pattern, the poems look at the impact of the United States' wars in Korea, Vietnam, Central American, and Iraq on lives. Vietnamese-American poet Teresa Mei Chuc, and Julia Stein read from their own poems. Dima Hilal, a Lebanese American will read her work. We will also read some of the Middle Eastern poets in the anthology from Turkey, Oman, Egyptian-American, Morocco, Iraq, and Chechnya.
Read reviews of With Eyes Wide Open here and in Counterpunch here.
Jason Hamacher, widely traveled in Syria and other regions of the Middle East, will talk about his experiences, play selections from his "Sacred Voices of Syria" series, and show photos f
Critics of Islam ask why Muslims themselves don't speak out often enough against extremism. The Levantine Cultural Center and Bana Hilal invite you to a salon, "When People of Muslim Heritage Challenge Fundamentalism," the subject of law professor Karima Bennoune's prize-winning book, and her Ted talk (March 2014). Of course, many Muslims like the young Malala Yousafzai and countless others around the world oppose Islamic fundamentalism, but they rarely make the news. Karima Bennoune, a native of Algeria, is a human rights lawyer and UC Davis law professor. Her book Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here, Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism, just won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for 2014. It was named one of the top ten books of the year on religion and spirituality by Booklist, the magazine of the American Library Association. Read an excerpt on how Muslim artists battle fundamentalism.
Watch Karima Bennoune's Ted talk.
"Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here should be required reading, not only for those of us who are professionally involved with Muslim-majority societies, but also for anyone who mistakenly believes that Muslims are doing nothing to end fundamentalist violence." —Rachel Newcomb, The Washington Post
Friends of the Levantine Cultural Center present a rare evening with celebrated author and blogger Juan Cole (The New Arabs; Engaging the Muslim World), introduced by historian Mark LeVine (Why They Don't Hate Us; One Land, Two States). A delicious sit-down dinner and dessert will be followed by conversation with Professors Cole and LeVine on "the New Arabs," the thesis of Cole's latest book, in relation to the Israel/Palestine question, and the future of the Middle East/North Africa, notably the debate about the supposed demise of Arab civilization, debated recently by Hisham Melham in Politico and Juan Cole with respect to the rise of the Islamic State.
The conversation, followed by a public dialogue engaging the audience, will conclude with a concert of Arab/Egyptian music performed live on kanun by Jim Grippo and on 'oud by Ziyad Marcus. Dinner tickets are $75 per person Patron of the Arts ($40 is tax-deductible) benefitting the new Levantine Cultural Center. Seating is limited to just 40 persons, so advance reservations are strongly advised. Seats are not guaranteed without RSVPs. Call 323.413.2001 or reserve here online.
Sheana Ochoa, author of the first biography of theatre and acting legend Stella Adler entitled STELLA! Mother of Modern Acting, with a foreword by Mark Ruffalo, will moderate a discussion about the changing craft of acting. Stella Adler taught Brando, DeNiro, Ruffalo, Benicio Del Toro and many others. This panel features two contemporary young actors of Middle Eastern heritage, influenced by Stella Adler's teachings, Mojean Aria and Thom Bishops; an acting coach and casting director who studied extensively with Stella, Deborah Aquila; and a casting director formed by the New York theatre world, April Webster. The program will be a dialogue among the panelists about the evolution of acting from the early 20th century until today, and a look at how actors of Middle Eastern heritage are fitting in, despite potential barriers in the business.
Tickets are $15, or $25 includes a signed copy of the new hardback biography, STELLA! Mother Modern Acting. The café is open as of 6:30 pm serving delicious authentic Moroccan and Middle Eastern cuisine. Reservations are strongly suggested as space is limited: call 323.413.2001.
On Saturday, December 13th, 2014, the Levantine Cultural Center will hold its year-end comedy benefit show with the New Sultans of Satire at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center, in Long Beach. With a special tribute to Robin Williams, this evening brings together the top young Middle Eastern comedians at work together, including Aron Kader (Comedy Central's "Axis of Evil"), Tehran, Sammy Obeid, Marie-Thérèse Abou-Daoud, Sherwin Arae and Melissa Shoshahi. The Levantine Cultural will donate a portion of the proceeds to Kinder USA (Kids in Need of Development, Education, and Relief) to help deserving children in Gaza with medical needs following the summer war. The Levantine Cultural Center works to bridge political and religious divides that may exist between Americans and the Middle East/North Africa, by presenting arts and education programs in the spirit of exploration, discovery and unity.
Proceeds benefit the Levantine Cultural Center, a 501(c)3 founded 13 years ago as a grassroots nonprofit organization that champions a greater understanding of the Middle East/North Africa and our communities in diaspora.
Join us in the Levantine café for vibrant, laugh-out-loud readings and frank talk when we present two groundbreaking anthologies, written by American Muslims on the intersection of their identitie
The Levantine Cultural Center and Cohen Media Group invite you to an exclusive preview of Cherien Dabis' new film May in the Summer, which follows sophisticated New Yorker and Arab American May Brennan to her childhood home of Amman, Jordan for her wedding. To all appearances, May (Cherien Dabis) has it all — she's intelligent, gorgeous, the recipient of raves for her recently published book and set to marry her loving fiancé Ziad (Alexander Siddig), a distinguished New York scholar. But immediately upon returning to her familial hometown for the wedding, the cracks in her seemingly perfect life begin to show. Star and writer/director Cherien Dabis will attend in person. A Q & A follows the screening (99ms). Seating limited, RSVPs required to 323.413.2001 or email your first/last name, phone and number of guests (up to 4) to firstname.lastname@example.org. We recommend you plan to arrive early to park and get into the theatre. Enter lot from Melrose, just east of San Vicente.
More About the Film
May's headstrong, born-again Christian mother Nadine (Hiam Abbass) disapproves of Ziad's Muslim faith and is firm in her decision to not attend the ceremony. Her sisters Dalia (Alia Shawkat) and Yasmine (Nadine Malouf) revert to behaving like rebellious teenagers as their estranged father Edward (Bill Pullman) awkwardly attempts to make amends. Confronted with the wounds of her parent's long-broken relationship, coupled with the unavoidable clash of old-world and modern values, May is lead to question the direction her life is taking. Her once carefully structured world appears to unravel as she grapples with her own truths in this fresh, exotic look at a woman caught in the crossroads between tradition and choice.
May in the Summer, written and directed by Cherien Dabis (Amreeka), stars Dabis, Alia Shawkat, Nadine Malouf, Ritu Singh Pande, Hiam Abbass and Bill Pullman. The film was produced by Dabis, Alix Madigan-Yorkin and Christopher Tricarico.
With Nahla Kayali, Anthony Saidy, Nagwa Ibrahim, Cheryl Faris and Bassam Marjya, moderator Don Bustany. A panel on refugees, exiles and immigrants from the Arab world discusses integration and assimilation.
This two-part program features a discussion with an early generation of Arab Americans, Anthony Saidy and Cheryl Faris, talking about their parents and grandparents arrival in the United States, and the history of social and cultural contributions that Arab Americans have made, particularly in California (Cousins Club, ADC, KPFK, etc). The second half of the discussion will be with a newer generation of Arab immigrants to California. Nahla Kayali, Nagwa Ibrahim and others will talk about how they reinvented their lives in Southern California. This exploration of history, culture and identity intends to demystify Arab and Arab American society, defuse Islamophobia, and build new bridges among all our communities. The event is free and open to the public. Donations are welcome. Refreshments will be served.
RSVPs welcome, 323.413.2001. "The New Americans: Arabs in California," Levantine Cultural Center, 5998 W. Pico Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90035.