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North Africa

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...

Salon With Karima Bennoune, When Muslims Fight Fundamentalism

Event Details
Date/Time: 
Nov 15 2014 4:00pm - 7:00pm
Price: 
$60 (salon, signed book, reception)
Seating strictly limited
RSVP to 323.413.2001 or rsvp@levantinecenter.org
This salon benefits the new Levantine Cultural Center
coming in 2015
Click here to reserve seats
Where: 
Private home in Laguna Hills, address provided upon RSVP

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

Extended Exhibit and Closing, Mohamed Khedr, Out of Egypt

Event Details
Date/Time: 
Nov 16 2014 5:00pm - 7:00pm
Price: 
Free to the public
Where: 
Inside/Outside Gallery, Levantine Cultural Center
5998 W. Pico Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90035
Between La Cienega & Fairfax
street parking
Subtitle: 
first American solo exhibition of Cairo's master painter

The Inside/Outside Gallery is pleased to present the first American solo show for Egyptian master painter Mohamed Khedr, featuring 40 works on canvas and paper, Oct 4-Oct.26, 2014, with an extended closing reception on Sunday, Nov. 16, 5-7 pm, at 5998 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90035. 

Regular gallery hours are Monday through Friday 10 am-6 pm, and Sat/Sun by appointment only, 310.657.5511. The work is also on view evenings during scheduled events, on Nov. 5 and 6.

In this series, Mohamed Khedr marries impressionism techniques with his expressionist interpretations to capture emotion, sound, and scents in a way that other artists have rarely attempted. When you look at the paintings, you don't just see a magnificent use of color and talent, you are also transported into the scene where you can feel the wind, hear the commotion, smell the environment.

Mosque by Mohamed KhedrMosque by Mohamed Khedr 

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.

Middle East Drum & Rhythm Circle Led by Rowan Storm

Event Details
Date/Time: 
Jun 14 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, June 14, 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.

Levantine Cultural Center Testimonials 2013-2014

Subtitle: 
what people have said about us

 

"The Levantine Cultural Center continues to generate respect for Middle Eastern arts and culture in the U.S., specifically focusing on the wealth of Middle Eastern cultural arts already present in California, with the twin goals of building solidarity among peoples of diverse Middle East origins in Southern California and beyond and promoting understanding between Middle East peoples (roughly Afghanistan in the East to Morocco in the West) and mainstream Americans." —Barbara Al-Bayati, co-founder, Orphan Whispers

"The Levantine Cultural Center plays an important role in countering media bias and stereotyping against the Arab and Muslim community both in the US and overseas. By exposing its predominantly western audience to well-curated performances and cultural events that showcase the beauty and diversity of the Muslim world, the center is effective at building local community as well as changing minds and perceptions." —Ibrahim Alhusseini, venture capitalist, husseini.com

"Over the years, the Levantine Cultural Center has been a consistent source of support and inspiration to the Arab/Muslim community in Southern California, and we here at CAIR Greater Los Angeles Area, wish to express our deep appreciation. The Center is an important resource that provides Americans with high-quality arts and educational programming that humanizes its participants, regardless of their background or heritage. From film, theatre, music, literary and arts programs to classes, workshops and public forums, the Center's programs create a safe space for exploration of potentially complex issues. We encourage everyone to plan a visit to the Levantine Cultural Center, and to lend it your support." —Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director, CAIR Greater Los Angeles 

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.