Contact: Jordan Elgrably, Nile El Wardani, Elie Karam
Levantine Cultural Center
310.657.5511 or 310.402.8866
[Los Angeles, May 20, 2010] Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's top aide, Special Representative to Muslim Communities Farah Pandith, will speak in a public forum on cultural diplomacy organized by the Levantine Cultural Center on Thursday, May 27, 2010, at 7 pm at the Mark Taper Auditorium in downtown Los Angeles.
The "clash of civilization" dialectic and the "war on terror" discourse require Americans to broaden our international outreach, to improve understanding of the Arab/Muslim world. In fact, the alchemy of change requires that we empathize with narratives that may differ from our own; and sometimes these narratives are strikingly similar. Cultural diplomacy efforts use the arts to address communities in conflict-or groups that appear to have opposing interests whether because of different religious traditions, political beliefs or ethnic identification.
Pandith will be joined by international social media expert Simon Mainwaring, and Sundance's international feature film program director Alesia Weston. Additional invited speakers include Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti, who headed up the Beirut-Los Angeles Sister Cities initiative with Councilman Dennis Zine, guest speakers from the Hollywood entertainment industry (TBC), and consular dignitaries.
Entitled "In the Age of a Global Civilization, There Is No ‘Us and Them': How Cultural Diplomacy Can Bridge the United States & the Middle East," the forum takes place May 27, 7 pm (doors open 6:45 pm), VIP reception and concert with the Naser Musa-Jim Grippo Trio, 8:45 pm. Mark Taper Auditorium, Los Angeles Central Public Library, 5th and Flower Streets, Los Angeles CA 90071. Parking in the underground lot, entrance on Figueroa south of 5th St ($8). Donations requested, $20 (forum only) or $50 (forum and VIP reception). Seating is limited, advance reservations are strongly suggested. Call the Levantine Cultural Center, 310.657.5511 or 310.657.5522.
This public forum on cultural diplomacy will examine the ways that film, television and other media and arts can bind together people of diverse and sometimes conflicting cultures and beliefs:
• How can Hollywood and independent filmmakers produce film and television that reflects the way the world really is-broadening our storytelling capacities to include more films such as Slumdog Millionaire, or Amreeka?
• How can the arts reach Americans to broaden perceptions of the Arab/Muslim world?
• How can the arts and cultures address thorny issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or the situation in Iran?
• In today's global civilization, in which we share film, television and social media content, can there really be any question of "us and them," or do we not share many concerns and pressing needs?
Since 2001 the Levantine Cultural Center has been the Los Angeles nexus for Middle Eastern/North African cultures. The center has presented hundreds of public programs-on film, art, literature, music, theatre and conferences-to more than 50,000 people. The center has partnered with many prominent organizations that share our vision of a global civilization.
Farah Pandith, Special Representative to Muslim Communities, U.S. Department of State, under Sec. Hillary Clinton, will explore how we can create a grassroots partnership between the United States and the Muslim world with respect and dignity.
Simon Mainwaring is a social media specialist providing strategies for building communities across traditional, digital and new media. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Center on Public Diplomacy at the USC Annenberg School. He will review how social media has been and can be engaged to bring our worlds closer together.
Alesia Weston, associate director of the Sundance Feature Film Lab , will discuss how Sundance has worked with international filmmakers from the Middle East, including Cherien Dabis (Amreeka), Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now), and Mohamed Al Daradji (Son of Babylon), and with Jordan's Royal Film Commission.
Mariam Atash Nawabi (moderator) is an attorney, social entrepreneur, activist and President of AMDi International, a marketing and consulting firm focusing on multicultural communications, rule of law and economic development.
Presented by the Levantine Cultural Center with PlanetPix Media (multicultural communications), and cosponsored by the City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission, with generous sponsorship by OneNation (onenationforall.org) and One World 2011, with support from the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Reception sponsored by the Caspian, fine Persian cuisine, Irvine.