Veteran NPR/PRI journalist Sandy Tolan, the critically-acclaimed author of The Lemon Tree, brings us another true story of hope in the Palestinian-Israeli impasse. His newest book, Children of the Stone, The Power of Music in a Hard Land, chronicles a young violinist—Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan—who escapes a Palestinian refugee camp and later returns to fulfill his dream: establishing a music school for Palestinians living under military occupation. Join Tolan for a moving conversation about how a love of music transforms and empowers lives in a war-torn land. Signed and discounted books available. Café open 7:00-9:30 pm, event at 7:30 pm.
Ms. Fara Salamat and the Levantine Cultural Center present a special benefit presentation of world-renowned comedian and actor Maz Jobrani, who 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 has set out on a comedy tour to explain 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.
Included in the price of the ticket are a signed copy of the book, mezze (major hors d'oeuvres) and refreshments. Hosted in a private resident in Laguna Niguel (south Orange County). Advance RSVPs required here, or call 323.413.2001.
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.
The world is indeed a global village where what happens in the Middle East becomes our living room fodder, and where news coverage of ISIS and other violent extremists bleeds over into how American
Electronic Intifada editor and author Nora Barrows-Friedman leads a public forum with special guest Ronnie Barkan, cofounder of Boycott From Within, on "U.S. Students and the Palestinian Solidarity Movement," with particular emphasis on Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) and attempts to stifle or silence Students for Justice in Palestine. This is an open forum, all are welcome.
According to Samantha Brotman writing in Mondoweiss, "Nora Barrows-Friedman's In Our Power: U.S. Students Organize for Justice in Palestine, published by Just World Books, is a timely and powerful read, detailing the scope and substance of the Palestine solidarity movement in the United States. Barrows-Friedman situates the movement across both time and space, providing historical and contemporary context to the individual activists whose voices make up the book's primary content. As a result, In Our Power is at once practical and inspiring for anyone involved in Palestine solidarity or interested in becoming involved."
Detractors of student groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine, chapters of which are now found at hundreds of college campuses across the U.S., suggest that SJP is "anti-Semitic" or that they "invite speakers linked with terrorist groups." These two contentions are demonstrably false and are in fact desperate attempts to stifle critical thinking and public debate about Israel and the Palestinians. See related Mondoweiss article.
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Levantine Cultural Center presents for the first time in Los Angeles, Ramy Essam live in concert and a public conversation. Essam is the Egyptian revolutionary rocker whose song "Irhal" contributed to the uprising that drove Hosni Mubarak from power, and who is featured in Jehane Noujaim's acclaimed documentary, The Square. He's recognized as perhaps the single most important musical artist of the Arab Spring.
This month Essam will undertake his first North American tour, with stops in NYC, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Seattle and Vancouver. His show at the Levantine Center will mark a landmark appearance at the Levantine Center. "I have known of the work of the Levantine Center even from Egypt, and I can't imagine any other place to make my first West Coast concert than with them," Essam declared when the concert was confirmed. This will truly be a special event and Essam will perform not only his revolutionary hits, but also newly written and recorded material dealing with the student protests and ongoing harassment, jailings and worse of revolutionary activists, including many of his friends. He will also talk about his experiences the last three years and what he sees as the best path forward for Egypt in this difficult period. Listen/watch Ramy Essam on YouTube.
In this first installment in a regular workshop series (each self-contained), the Levantine Cultural Center presents Palestine 101, an audiovisual experience that surveys anti-colonial resistance and explores the history, culture and politics of Palestine, from the early 20th century forward. We will delve deeper beyond Hamas and the PLO as we explore how Palestinians have resisted both colonization and the erasure of their history and culture, including a look at poetry, hip hop and peaceful protest.
The workshop will include mention of bicultural coexistence organizations that envision a positive future for Israelis and Palestinians together, such as the village Neve Shalom-Wahat al-Salam (and its School for Peace), the Parents Circle Family Forum, Combatants for Peace, Just Vision and others.
The workshop is open to anyone who would like a more in-depth survey of 20th century history of the Holy Land, up to the present day, with a sympathetic take on the region's pre-1948 inhabitants. A suggested donation of $10 or $5 students/seniors is welcome. RSVPs strongly advised as seating is limited.
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.