[LOS ANGELES-May 29, 2014] From a design perspective, what do we really know about the Arab world, or Iraq's neighbor, Iran? A window into these cultures, which use the Arabic script for writing and design, will open here in Los Angeles on June 26, 2014, when LOCAL NOT LOCAL, a modern collection of contemporary expression, brings Arabic and Iranian typography and calligraphy to the Inside/Outside Gallery at the Levantine Cultural Center. These days it seems like everyone's got a favorite font and a philosophy of typography. But it's not just our Roman alphabet that gets translated into different shapes - all over the world, designers pick and choose scripts to suit the occasion. In LOCAL NOT LOCAL, co-curators Maece Seirafi and Pouya Jahanshahi present a collection of award-winning Arab and Iranian designers who demonstrate the creative possibilities and expressions that lurk in their native alphabets.
What shaped the C.I.A., and how does the agency play a role in our foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa? On Thursday, March 6, the Levantine Cultural Center presents a public forum and book signing with intelligence historian Hugh Wilford and former C.I.A. case officer Robert Baer, in conversation about the history of the agency's Arabists and the direction of U.S. Middle East foreign policy, particularly with respect to Israel, Iran and Syria. The discussion will be moderated by journalist and political commentator Robert Scheer. The program is made possible in part by Truthdig and LA Jews for Peace. KPFK 90.7 FM Pacifica Radio is a media sponsor.
What shaped the C.I.A., and how does the agency play a role in our foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa? The Levantine Cultural Center presents a public forum and book signing with intelligence historian Hugh Wilford and former C.I.A. case officer Robert Baer, in conversation about the history of the agency's Arabists and the direction of U.S. Middle East foreign policy, particularly with respect to Israel, Iran and Syria. The discussion will be moderated by journalist and political commentator Robert Scheer. The program is made possible in part by Truthdig and LA Jews for Peace. KPFK Pacifica Radio 90.7 FM is a media sponsor.
Hugh Wilford's new book is America's Great Game, The CIA's Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East. Robert Baer is a former CIA case officer who served everywhere from Iraq to the former Soviet Union. (The 2005 film Syriana, starring George Clooney, was an adaptation of several of his books about the intelligence world.) Baer is the author of See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism; Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude; and The Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower. Robert Scheer is the editor-in-chief of the online news magazine Truthdig and a regular commentator on KCRW's Left, Right and Center.
On Thurs., Jan. 16, Bernard Radfar, author of the satirical epistolary collection Insincerely Yours, Letters From a Prankster, and now the novel, Mecca Pimp, a Novel of Love and Human Trafficking, will be in conversation live at the Levantine Cultural Center with serial interviewer Jordan Elgrably (James Baldwin, Milan Kundera, Nadine Gordimer, Harold Brodkey, Gilbert Sorrentino, Amy Tan, Edward Said et al), discussing the characters and situations in Mecca Pimp, in which the fictional Mary and Mark Black run a human trafficking empire in Saudi Arabia until Mary jets off to New York City. Whether their love endures is the subject of the novel.
Can you believe it?!
We are just starting our 12th year serving greater Los Angeles. Don Heckman wrote the first LA Times article about us, positively reviewing our first public program, in a Calendar review published June 25, 2001. (We received another thumbs-up review in December 2001 by theatre critic Don Shirley and many more LA Times articles since.)
LA Film Independent with support from the Levantine Cultural Center presents Haifaa Al Mansour's debut feature film and the first feature to be directed by a Saudi woman. Wadjda screens in the L.A. Film Fest's International Showcase, on June 21 (Germany, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, 2012, 97 mins, DCP). The film is in Arabic with English subtitles. (There is also a second screening on June 22, click here for info.)
By Omid Arabian
Awards season is upon us again, and two of the most lauded films of the year deal with American involvement in the Middle East. At the top of seemingly everyone's list is Zero Dark Thirty—an account of the CIA's hunt for Osama Bin Laden, as told by director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal (Oscar winners for 2009's The Hurt Locker). The film has dusted up a sandstorm of controversy, with various politicians outraged by its suggestion that torturing prisoners was instrumental in the eventual discovery and capture of Bin Laden. On the critical front, however, the film is being almost unanimously praised for (among other things) its unflinching, objective, bias-free approach to historical events. As if such a thing were possible.