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Central Asia

Women's Short Film Weekend Showcases Issues, Talent from the Region

On June 6th and 7th of 2015, the Levantine Cultural Center/The Markaz hosted the Women's Voices Now Film Salon, celebrating the winning short films of the 2014 Women's Voices Now Short Film Festival. The event, co-organized by Women's Voices Now executive director Heidi Basch-Harod and Eszter Zimanyi, Markaz film committee chair, sought to create a dialogue about the numerous issues facing women in Muslim-majority societies by showcasing new films produced in the Southwest Asia-North Africa (SWANA) region. In addition, the Film Salon aimed to connect these issues to those that all women face across the globe.

The fifteen winning films were split into four core themes to encourage discussion and debate. These were "States of Violence," which contained films dealing primarily with state and governmental forms of gendered discrimination and violence; "Conditions of Culture," showcasing films that address oppressive cultural practices; "Body Talk," encompassing films dealing with sex and sexuality; and "Women Without Men," which offered films that hope to inspire a world without patriarchy.

Because the filmmakers are all scattered across various continents, they were not available to come to the Levantine Center/Markaz to discuss their work. Instead, Eszter invited guest speakers to serve on panels and facilitate group discussion after each themed section. These panelists, comprised of young academic scholars and aid workers who focus specifically on the SWANA region, helped to place the selected films within larger social, political, and historical contexts. The panelists included Umayyah Cable (doctoral candidate in American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California), Shadee Malaklou (doctoral candidate in Culture and Theory at UC Irvine), Nausheen Sheikh (graduate student in the Asian American Studies department at UCLA), Zeena Aljawad and Sabreen Shalabi (both activists and aid workers who have collaborated with various organizations).

Women's Voices Now seeks to empower all women living in Muslim-majority societies by promoting their free expression, thereby giving voice to the struggles for civil, economic, political, and gender rights. Learn more at Women's Voices Now.  

The Women's Voices Now Film Salon was an important milestone in terms of inter-organizational collaboration. Both Saturday and Sunday evenings were well attended, and resulted in fruitful and engaging conversations with audience members after the films. Topics such as sexual harassment, Islamic feminism, Orientalism, colonialism, and international solidarity politics were all critically and respectfully explored and discussed. It was collectively felt that the Women's Voices Now Film Salon offered a fantastic and valuable opportunity to challenge people's thinking and to bridge cultural divides between various religions and ethnicities. The response from audience members has been overwhelmingly positive, and the Levantine/Markaz looks forward to hosting more events that emphasize community discussion and women's rights.

—Staff Report 

"Women Bought and Sold" Short Film Salon Weekend

Event Details
Date/Time: 
Jun 7 2015 6:00pm - 10:00pm
Price: 
$15 general, $12 students with I.D. (light dinner/soft drinks included)
Reservations strongly advised: 323.413.2001
Click here to reserve seats for June 6
Click here to reserve seats for June 7
Where: 
Levantine Cultural Center
5998 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90035
Between La Cienega and Fairfax
street parking
Subtitle: 
film, food, conversation and activism with Women's Voices Now at the Levantine!

Women Bought and Sold: Voices United Against Violence—a weekend film salon showcasing short films by women of the Arab/Muslim world—aims to portray a deeper understanding of the worldwide issue of sexualized violence against women. Subjects broached in this film salon weekend include trafficking, slavery, domestic, servitude, forced marriages, sexual harassment, sexuality, and sexual freedom. Join us in viewing and discussing these films in the fight against these obstacles to peace, prosperity, and the dignity of women. 

On the menu and included in the price of the ticket area choice of feta cheese and spinach fatayer, cheese fatayer, beef fatayer, bastilla, grape leaves, falafel, hummus and salmon mousse on cucumber. Catering by Bouchra Azizy.

Women Bought and Sold Short Film Salon WeekendWomen Bought and Sold Short Film Salon Weekend 
Women's Voices Now seeks to empower all women living in Muslim-majority societies by promoting their free expression, thereby giving voice to the struggles for civil, economic, political, and gender rights. Learn more at Women's Voices Now

Your film ticket includes a delicious homestyle meal catered by Bouchra Azizy featuring cheese and spinach fatayer, ground beef and veggie rolls, hummus, falafel, salmon mousse on cucumber a bastilla, a delicious Moroccan speciality, plus for dessert, fruit or baklava. See below for each evening's full schedule.  

Saturday, June 6

Theme: States of Violence

Chronicle of Tahrir Square by Nour Zaki
Final Moments by Shadi Amin
Mohtarama by Malek Shafi'i and Diana Saqeb
Take Care by Afrooz Nasersharif
 

Theme: Conditions of Culture

Breaking the Silence by Rajae Hammadi and Global Girl Media
Vomit II - Celia Elslamieh Shomal
Swap - Sayed Masoud Islami

Shadow of the Stone by Fatemeh Keihani 

Guest speakers: Nausheen Sheikh (UCLA), Zeena Aljawad (Arab Youth Collective), and Sabreen Shalabi (activist / aid worker)

Sunday, June 7

Theme: Body Talk

Blobfish by Urgur Ferhat Korkmuz and Atilla Borutcu
In the Name of Tradition by May El Hossamy
The Reflex by Ali and Hussein Mousavi
Get Along by Parya Vatankhah

Theme: Women without Men

Aabida by Maaria Syed
The Virginity Minarets by Farhad Rezaee
Behind the Wheel by Elise Laker

Guest speakers: M. Shadee Malaklou (PhD Candidate, UC Irvine) and Umayyah Cable (PhD Candidate, USC)  

Fight the Good Fight

Subtitle: 
For Arts and Free Expression—as a Counterweight to Extremism, Islamophobia, Media Bias and Racism


By Jordan Elgrably

Charlie Hebdo, ISIS, Gaza, Ferguson, the Taliban, drone attacks killing families in Afghanistan and Pakistan...

Organic Arab Afro Trance Concert with Bedouin X and Mahadev

Event Details
Date/Time: 
Feb 28 2015 8:00pm - 11:00pm
Price: 
$20 in advance; $25 at the door
RSVP to 323.413.2001
Click here to reserve seats
Where: 
Levantine Cultural Center
5998 W. Pico Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90035
Between La Cienega & Fairfax
street parking
Subtitle: 
a night of world music

Partake in an evening of organic Afro-Arab trance with Bedouin X—soulful music from North Africa, West Africa and Nubia underlying Bedouin poetry, driven by polyrhythms and hypnotic grooves. Led by Alfred Madain, Bedouin X features artists Clarissa Bitar on oud, Ava Nahas on percussion and Dave Markowitz on the saz. The repertoire was created to revive and bring to the fore socially and politically conscientious music that sprang up in the African parts of the Arab world. Other performers include David Martinelli on percussion and Mike Gadsby on bass. This highly danceable music is known to induce a state of trance. 

Opening for Bedouin X is Mahadev, a world music ensemble that plays an exciting and eclectic blend of Indian, Gypsy, African, Middle Eastern and American music mixed with original compositions that bridge the gap between these worlds of music. With Dave Cipriani on Indian slide guitar & voice, Chris Payne on cajon & frame drum and Neelamjit Dhillon on saxophone & tabla. Listen here.

Two great bands for the price of one ($20 in advance; $25 at the door). Seating is limited, however, and advance reservations are strongly suggested: 323.413.2001. 

An Evening With American Muslim Writers

Event Details
Date/Time: 
Sep 5 2014 7:30pm - 10:00pm
Price: 
Free to the public (charitable contributions welcome)
café open 7:00-11:00 pm for dinner/snacks
Donate Here
Where: 
Levantine Cultural Center
5998 W. Pico Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90035
Between La Cienega & Fairfax
street parking
Subtitle: 
Romance, dating, sex and - Muslims?

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

Middle East Drum & Rhythm Circle Led by Rowan Storm

Event Details
Date/Time: 
Jul 5 2014 1:30pm - 4:00pm
Price: 
Suggested contribution for two hours is $20 (no one turned away)
Where: 
Levantine Cultural Center
5998 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles 90035
Between La Cienega and Fairfax
street parking
Subtitle: 
play doumbek, daf, riqq live informally at the Levantine café

Come participate in a dynamic Middle East rhythm and drum circle, facilitated by percussion expert Rowan Storm, Saturday from 1:30 -4:00 pm, July 5, 2014. Beginners welcome. For all ages. Family friendly. Various hand drums and percussion provided, or bring your own. Info/reservations 323.413.2001 or just show up. Grab a drum or bring your own and join the fun! Visit carpetconcert.com or rowanstorm.com.

Suggested contribution for two hours is $20.

13th Anniversary Hafla Celebration

Event Details
Date/Time: 
Jun 21 2014 8:00pm - Jun 22 2014 12:00am
Price: 
Minimum donation of $50/up per person includes dinner, one drink & performances.
Attend after 9 pm, no dinner, minimum donation of $25 per person
Donation of $100/up per person, evening includes performances, dinner, reserved seating, open bar and a special gift

Donate to Reserve Here
Where: 
Levantine Cultural Center
5998 W. Pico Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90035
Between La Cienega & Fairfax
street parking
Subtitle: 
Celebrate with the Levantine Cultural Center

On Saturday, June 21st, the Levantine Cultural Center will officially celebrate the 13th anniversary of our founding (first public program presented at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre on June 23, 2001) with a diverse evening of music, comedy, poetry and more. Performers include the popular group Bedouin X (Arabic and North African music) along with musicians Rowan Storm, Jim Grippo, Dann Torres, Kutsal and Yuval Ron. Comedians Omar Elba and Omid Singh will also perform. A delicious meal of Moroccan and Middle Eastern cuisine will be served. 

Minimum per person donation of $50/up includes dinner, one drink and performances, or attend after 9 pm, no dinner, with minimum $25 donation. With a donation of $100/up per person, the evening includes performances, dinner, reserved seating, open bar, and a special gift.

Seating is limited, reservations, info: 323.413.2001.

hafla celebrates 13 years of arts programshafla celebrates 13 years of arts programs 

Make a contribution toward our mural project 99 Heroes of the Middle East Mural or to create a new Fellowship or Internship on behalf of a needy undergrad or grad student. Contribute to keep the Levantine Cultural Center strong.

support this center for the communitysupport this center for the community

The Levantine Cultural Center was founded in June 2001, with a simple mission: to unite the diverse Arab/Middle Eastern populations in Los Angeles - whether they be Moroccan, Iranian, Syrian, Yemeni, or anything in between. In our unity, we would have a place to raise our voices, share our culture (and food!) and come together as a single community. On September 11, 2001, that need became even starker and clearer. We have served the diverse people - Arab and non - of Los Angeles for almost thirteen years, promoting understanding and tolerance through art, music, political forums, and film. We have done a great deal to be proud of, and on an exceedingly modest budget.

While we are celebrating our 13th anniversary, the Levantine Cultural Center has so much more to accomplish, so much more good to do. We are only at the beginning of our work. That's why we ask for your ongoing support.

Give us a chance to continue the work. And enjoy some of our favorite performers and oldest supporters.

Other June events include the wrap-up of our critically-acclaimed exhibit, The Map is Not the Territory, and the opening of Local Not Local—a exhibition of Arabic and Persian typography, and a new Sultans of Satire show on June 27—because we're big believers in the power of laughter and stories. 

Middle East Drum Class & Rhythm Circle with Rowan Storm

Event Details
Date/Time: 
May 10 2014 1:30pm - 4:00pm
Price: 
Suggested contribution for two hours is $20 (no one turned away)
Where: 
Levantine Cultural Center
5998 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles 90035
Between La Cienega and Fairfax
street parking
Subtitle: 
play doumbek, daf, riqq live informally at the Levantine café

Come participate in a dynamic Middle East rhythm and drum circle, facilitated by percussion expert Rowan Storm, Saturday from 1:30 -3:30 pm, April 12, 2014 (and second Saturdays in May and June). Beginners welcome. For all ages. Family friendly. Various hand drums and percussion provided, or bring your own. Info/reservations 323.413.2001 or just show up. Grab a drum or bring your own and join the fun! Visit carpetconcert.com or rowanstorm.com.

Suggested contribution for two hours is $20.

Middle East Drum Circle with Rowan Storm

Event Details
Date/Time: 
Apr 12 2014 1:30pm - 3:30pm
Price: 
$20 for two-hour workshop
Where: 
Levantine Cultural Center
5998 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles 90035
Between La Cienega and Fairfax
street parking
Subtitle: 
play doumbek, daf, riqq live informally at the Levantine café

Come participate in a dynamic Middle East rhythm and drum circle, facilitated by percussion expert Rowan Storm, Saturday from 1:30 -3:30 pm, April 12, 2014 (and second Saturdays in May and June). Beginners welcome. For all ages. Family friendly. Various hand drums and percussion provided, or bring your own. Info/reservations 323.413.2001 or just show up. Grab a drum or bring your own and join the fun! Visit carpetconcert.com or rowanstorm.com.

Suggested contribution for two hours is $20.

Middle East Drum Circle with Rowan Storm

Event Details
Date/Time: 
Jan 18 2014 1:30pm - 3:30pm
Price: 
Suggested donation $10 for one circle, $15 for two
Where: 
Levantine Cultural Center
5998 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90035
Between La Cienega & Fairfax
Street parking.
Subtitle: 
get into Middle Eastern percussion at the Levantine!

Come participate in a dynamic Middle East rhythm and drum circle, facilitated by Rowan Storm, Saturday from 1:30 -3:30 pm, Jan. 18, 2013 (repeats on Feb. 8 and March 15, 2014). Beginners welcome.