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Documentary - Middle East (Weekly Hot Titles)
By Deborah Perkin
The acclaimed film BASTARDS: OUTCAST IN MOROCCO, by producer Deborah Perkin, documents one woman's fight to have her sham marriage recognized and her daughter legitimized by the Moroccan judicial system. It is also a complex and compelling portrait of Moroccan society and its attitudes to women, female sexuality, their position in society and access to education. Through Rabha's story, the Moroccan judicial system is laid open and the contemporary issues facing Islamic women are exposed as they seek to reconcile their desire for increased independence with religious and family traditions.
~ "More tense, more gripping than many mainstream films out there in cinemas at the moment. The story is so strong, and told with such clean, firm strokes, it absolutely puts the thing together in a way which is riveting." - Mark Kermode, BBC
~ "Gripping!" - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
~ "A keenly thought-through, sensitively executed, dramatically involving debut." - Trevor Johnson, Sight & Sound
DVD (Color) / 2014 / () / 83 minutes
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By Feriel Ben Mahmoud
The struggle for Muslim women's emancipation is often portrayed stereotypically as a showdown between Western and Islamic values, but Arab feminism has existed for more than a century. And its unique history is shaped by, and inseparable from, assertions of national identity and the fight for liberation from colonialism. This groundbreaking documentary recounts Arab feminism's largely unknown story, from its taboo-shattering birth in Egypt by feminist pioneers up through viral Internet campaigns by today's tech-savvy young activists during the Arab Spring. Moving from Tunisia to Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, filmmaker and author Feriel Ben Mahmoud tracks the progress of Arab women in their long march to assert their full rights and achieve empowerment. En route, FEMINISM INSHALLAH also considers the paradoxes of limited championship by conservative forces and regimes, as well as the setbacks imposed by Arab geopolitics and the rise of religious fundamentalism. Featuring previously unreleased archival footage and exclusive multigenerational interviews, FEMINISM INSHALLAH is an indispensable resource for Women's Studies, Global Feminism, Middle East and Islamic Studies
DVD (Arabic, French, Color) / 2014 / () / 52 minutes
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Directed by Usama Alshaibi
A provocative look at the complexities of Arab identity in post 9/11 America, American Arab interweaves filmmaker Usama Alshaibi's own story, and that of his family, as well as other Arab Americans to thoughtfully explore the values, passions, hopes and perceptions of his community, from inside and out.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, a woman at a John McCain rally stated she wasn't voting for Barack Obama because he was an Arab. McCain bluntly replied: ""No, ma'am, he's a decent family man, a citizen." McCain's response was widely praised. But - was it no longer possible for an Arab to be a decent person? A citizen?
Born in Iraq and raised in the United States, filmmaker Usama Alshaibi sets out to examine this stereotype and how it came to be. He reaches out to friends and kindred spirits: Amal Abusumayah, a young woman born in America, who wears a headscarf and tells how she was the victim of a hate crime shortly after the 2009 Ft. Hood shootings; Marwan Kamel, a musician in the Muslim punk subculture known as Taqwacore; the Jassar family, who have recently come to the United States to escape kidnapping and threats of murder in Iraq.
Usama's own personal American story propels the narrative. He recounts how his adult years have been shaped by an altered perception of his identity. As a child, when relations between the US and Iraq were amicable, there was a fascination others expressed in his culture. As an adult, it was replaced with suspicion and even violence. During the course of filming this documentary, Usama himself became a victim of a racially motivated attack.
American Arab is a timely and important film that emphasizes the diverse and complex array of voices and cultures within the Arab-American community. It asks what it means to be an Arab today. To what degree is one's identity determined by one's birth country. And to what extent do we identify with the nation in which we live. By shedding light and giving clarity to these multifaceted issues, American Arab profoundly embraces and illuminates the Arab-American experience.
DVD / 2013 / () / 60 minutes
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By Maziar Bahari
Forced Confessions pulls the mask off a regime that brutally extracts lies from its citizens. For the first time on film, six victims of Iran's torture chambers speak. These are not criminals, but writers, journalists, and scholars.
The film is narrated by Director Maziar Bahari, who himself was used as a "poster boy for subversion" and forced to falsely admit to orchestrating street protests in 2009.
We meet Faraj Sarkoohi, the editor of the most popular literary magazine in Iran during the 1980s and 90s. Put through a mock execution, Faraj had a remarkable experience that shows the power of the human spirit over terror and even death.
Ali Afshari and Omid Memarian are activists and bloggers who had to flee Iran after their arrest and torture, and now work on behalf of human rights and freedom of expression.
Ramin Rahanbegloo is a philosopher and follower of Gandhi and the Dalai Lama, whose belief in non-violence led the Islamic regime to accuse him of plotting a "soft overthrow."
In a tribute the life and death of journalist Siamak Pourzand, his wife Mehrangiz Kar and daughter Leily Pourzand speak about his passion for cinema and his decision to commit suicide after years of physical and mental abuse: a final act of defiance against the Islamic state.
This is the story of the Iranian regime's attempt to legitimize its rule through force, and how the Iranian people continue to speak truth to power - whatever the cost.
DVD / 2013 / () / 58 minutes
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Directed by Sara Ishaq
Karama Has No Walls is a gripping, eye-witness account of the tragic day that changed the course of the revolution in Yemen; when pro-government snipers opened fired on a peaceful gathering of protesters, sparking national outrage and ultimately leading to the end of 33 years of autocratic rule.
On March 18, 2011 - in the days following popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt - a peaceful assembly of protestors gathered in Yemen's capital's city of Sana'a to demand an end to the presidency of Ali Abdullah Saleh. After Friday prayers, as more people began to arrive, gunmen ascended rooftops surrounding the square and opened fire. 53 people were killed, hundreds were injured. It was one of the bloodiest days in Yemen's modern history. It came be known as "Juma'at El-Karama" or the "Friday of Dignity."
Instead of quelling the demonstrations however, masses of people flocked to the square in solidarity with their fellow citizens. Military officials defected and joined the protests; members of parliament resigned and announced their support for the revolution; entire tribes set aside their weapons, made amends with rival tribesmen and pitched up tents in the square, all in support of one cause: the liberation of Yemen from the shackles of a barbaric regime.
Incorporating remarkable footage from two cameramen who were there as events unfolded, Karama Has No Walls offers a dynamic, multifaceted perspective in telling the story of a single day that altered the path of a nation.
~ Winner, Best Short Film, AlJazeera International Film Festival
~ Winner, Best Short Documentary, United Nations Association Film Festival
~ Winner, Outstanding Short Documentary, San Francisco Arab Film Festival
~ Winner, Best Short Documentary, Edindocs Film Festival
DVD / 2013 / () / 26 minutes
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Directed by Alexandre Trudeau
After centuries of Western domination, the waterways of the Middle East are now being contested in unprecedented ways. Pirates are roaming sea lanes. Local powers are threatening chokepoints. And the people are rising up to bring their authoritarian rulers down. With no simple solutions for maintaining control of oil flows, the West is facing a crucial decision. Already weakened by extended military interventions, faltering economies, and strained global partnerships, the US and Europe must decide whether violent intervention or benevolent passivity is the best course of action.
~ "This is a sobering history of the decline and fall of Western hegemony in the Persian Gulf and Western Indian Ocean -- and the alarming reality of what comes next. The historic march through North Africa and the Middle East with the world's top strategists, economists, and thinkers provides an unsettling glimpse into the post-American maritime order." - James Kraska, Howard S. Levie Chair in International Law at the U.S. Naval War College
~ "A sobering, comprehensive look at the contemporary geopolitics of the oil patch and the sea lanes that connect it to the world." - F. Gregory Gause, III, Professor of Political Science at the University of Vermont | Author of The International Relations of the Persian Gulf
~ "Alexandre Trudeau depicts a very clear and relevant picture of the oil-based conflict in the Middle East. The film is well-directed and only as sensational as its subject matter." - Laurence Trepanier, CBC News
DVD (With English Subtitles) / 2012 / () / 54 minutes
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Directed by Mai Iskander
From the director of multi-award-winning documentary Garbage Dreams , Words of Witness follows a 22-year-old female reporter for the independent newspaper Egypt Independent , as she covers Egypt's transition to democracy, from the heyday of Tahir Square to Egypt's first free and fair presidential election. Defying cultural and gender norms as well as family expectations, Heba takes to the streets to report, using Facebook posts, tweets, and text messages, on an Egypt in turmoil.
For thirty years, Egypt was ruled by the oppressive regime of President Hosnu Mubarak. When Mubarak resigned and transferred the power to the Army to lead the country in the transition to democracy, the Tahir Square demonstrators celebrate chanting "The Army and the people will complete the journey". However, as Heba and the nation quickly realize, the struggle for a new order has just begun.
Despite repetitive arguments with her mother who is fearing for her daughter's life and cautious of respecting women's traditional roles, Heba covers a series of historical events. She interviews parents of missing demonstrators; takes an active part in a thrilling demonstration at the State Security headquarters resulting in the discovery of thousand of classified files on public figures and ordinary citizens kept by the police; gets caught in a tense religious event protesting against the State police who are preventing the rebuilding of a church; witnesses the army, once hailed as the people's liberators, using violence and later torture and taking down demonstrators camps in Tahir Square; and, finally, documents the election process.
Words of Witness offers a fascinating account of Egypt post-revolution as the nation faces the challenges that lay ahead; as well as a moving portrait of an incredible, fearless young woman, who is now a contributor to The New York Times. Heba's story is an illustration of the critical role social media played in the Arab Spring, as nations are in the process of reinventing themselves and finding their voices.
~ "A crucial story of modern revolution... The ambitious, articulate Afify bucks native female tradition... as she confidently immerses herself into a series of precarious, post-Mubarak actions and protests" - The Los Angeles Times
~ "Raw and fascinating." - Wall Street Journal
~ "As a young truth-seeker, an idealist, and female, Heba is very much a heroine for the 21st century." - Slant
DVD / 2012 / () / 70 minutes
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Directed by Ali Samadi Ahadi
The Green Wave uses actual blog entries, tweets and cell phone video, along with eyewitness accounts, expert interviews and animated sequences to tell the story behind Iran's youth-driven Green Revolution and the Government's violent response. The film captures the spirit of hope and possibility that united the protesters and that has since spread across the Middle East.
In countries like Iran, filmmakers have long learned they need to rely on other means rather than government controlled media outlets. Director Ali Samadi Ahadi used thousands of entries in Iranian blogs and social media websites to create two fictional characters, students whose hopes, fears and experiences with terror at the hands of government security thugs filter through the movie. These deeply moving fictional 'storylines' have been animated and supplemented with interviews with prominent human rights campaigners and exiled Iranians to complete a picture of the tragedy of the Green Revolution.
To watch powerful footage of Iran's 2009 Green Revolution and events leading to the elections of June 12th that year is to feel the hope and the explosive energy of the people ready for a change from the oppressive regime. This is the story of crushed hope, but it is also the story of youth, their energy, their thirst for change and their endless inventiveness in finding new tools of a revolution.
~ "The Green Wave tells its deeply moving story three ways, using animation, on-camera interviews and extensive documentary footage to show us a moment in history that reveals more about itself each time it is examined." - Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
~ "This is a highly recommended film and an essential source for understanding contemporary Iran and the systematic suppression of dissent that fomented the Arab Spring uprisings across the Middle East beginning in late 2010". - EMRO
~ "In both form and content, the filmmaker refuses the orthodoxˇKThat [ director] Ahadi and his team were able to safely compile, let alone edit together, this much ground-level footage is a feat in and of itself; that it comes together in such a compelling manner makes it almost vital". - Village Voice
DVD / 2011 / () / 80 minutes
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Directed by Elyes Baccar
On December 17, 2010, 26-year-old Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to himself on the streets of Tunis sparking a popular uprising that toppled a dictator and developed into the Arab Spring. With remarkable never-before-seen footage, Tunisian filmmaker Elyes Baccar chronicles his country's revolution with searing, passionate images of demonstrations, celebrations and riots in the days leading to and immediately following the expulsion of President Ben Ali.
To many on the outside (and even on the inside), Tunisia appeared a bastion of stability in the Arab world. But this image was only a mirage. For years, the Tunisian people have turned a blind eye to the corruption and systemic looting of their country's wealth and resources by the regime in power, led by President Ben Ali. In fact, before the uprising, Ali was preparing a campaign that would elect him 'President for Life.'
Mohamed Bouazizi's self-immolation, which was seen around the world, changed all that.
Rouge Parole provides an immediate, up-close look at the uprising. It's a powerful documentary record of a nation shaking off decades of oppressive rule and taking its first - chaotic, disorganized but inspiring - steps towards democracy. Beautifully photographed, this is an uncompromising film that manages to capture moments of upheaval and exultation, not just in the capital of Tunis but throughout the entire country; moments that are now part of history.
~ "Amid the expected barrage of docus on 2011's Arab Spring, Rouge Parole stands outˇK That's thanks to Elyes Baccar's accomplished eye, sympathetic and intelligent ear, and a wide-ranging scope that goes beyond instant headlines. By traveling to towns throughout Tunisia, he achieves one of the goals of the revolution, to counter regionalism and show the struggle as a nationwide revolt against dictatorship." - Variety
~ "Describes Tunisia as one ˇX without divide ˇX under their red flag. Together, the people feel pain; together, they feel the flutter of butterfly wings. Rouge Parole is integral film for those trying to understand the spontaneity and collective nature of the revolution ." - Al Jadid
DVD / 2011 / () / 95 minutes
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Directed by Michael Singh
Shows the way in which the changing image of Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. media has mirrored America's political agenda in the Middle East.
Valentino's Ghost takes viewers on a chronological journey through more than a century of images of Muslims, Arabs and Islam in the U.S. media, from the early 20th-century fantasies of romantic sheiks to today's damaging stereotypes as evil fanatics. Through interviews with Robert Fisk, Niall Ferguson, and John Mearsheimer amongst others, the film shows the way in which the changing image of Arabs and Muslims has mirrored America's political agenda in the Middle East.
Valentino's Ghost aims to sharpen viewers' media literacy and increase their skills in questioning media representations, especially those of minority groups and people with whom our government is in conflict. The film ends with a report of a few Hollywood films that have provided complex images and avoided ethnic stereotyping.
~ "An important and informative teaching tool. Comprehensive in its scope, Valentino's Ghost provides the crucial background to enable viewers to put stereotypical representations of Arabs and Muslims in historical context. Rather than simply cataloguing negative portrayals of Arabs and Muslims in U.S. media, it demonstrates how they are shaped by historical and political forces, revealing them to be cultural artifacts of these same forces." - Amira Jarmakani, Associate Professor, Director, Graduate Studies for the Women's Studies Institute, Georgia State University, Author, Imagining Arab Womanhood: The Cultural Mythology of Veils, Harems, and Belly Dancers in the U.S.
~ "Stunning for its comprehensiveness, Valentino's Ghost is not only a riveting account of the multiple ways in which American media have framed Arabs, Islam, and Muslims over the past century, but an explanation as to whyˇKIf you see the need for change and want a place to start, watch this film to develop your tools." - Louise Cainkar, Assistant Professor of Social and Cultural Sciences, Marquette University, Author, Homeland Security: The Arab American and Muslim American Experience after 9/11
DVD / 2011 / (Grades 8-12, College, Adult) / 93 minutes
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By Matt Sienkiewicz and Joseph C. Sousa
The Bethlehem-based Ma'an News Agency (MNA) emerged out of the ashes of the second Intifada to become the only independent news network in the Palestinian Territories and an increasingly prominent and influential journalistic force in the wider Middle East. Live from Bethlehem tells MNA's remarkable story. It chronicles the agency's struggles and successes through the eyes of the station's reporters, producers, and photographers, in the process quietly revealing the humanity of ordinary Palestinians as they go about their daily business. The documentary trains its focus on people more than on abstract issues, yet it never loses sight of the myriad social and political forces and pressures that Ma'an journalists are forced to negotiate as they try to gather and report balanced information. What results is an admirably nuanced portrait of how news gets produced, and how Palestinians live, in one of the world's most troubled regions.
~ "fascinatingˇK" - The Chicago Reader
~ "A truly superb filmˇKexceptional in its nuanced portrayal of the forces that come to bear on media production in the Palestinian Territories." - Dr. Michael Curtin, author of Playing to the World's Biggest Audience
DVD (With English Subtitles) / 2009 / () / 36 minutes
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Through the example of Israeli Refuseniks we learn what happens when soldiers act out of conscience.
They will fight for their country, they will die for their country, but not in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. And although they act on conscience, they pay a steep personal price. Featuring haunting accounts from the front lines, Raised to Be Heroes introduces the latest generation of Israeli soldiers to selectively object to military operations undertaken by their country.
After years of executing missions against the Palestinians, often involving violence and oppression, some soldiers now believe their country's actions are inhumane. They're confronted with an excruciating dilemma: do they obey orders and continue a cycle of aggression and revenge? Or do they refuse to serve, risking vehement backlash and condemnation from family, friends and society? Through a series of raw and emotional testimonies, a group of Refuseniks lay bare the moment that they finally, and courageously, drew the line.
Their gripping stories are intertwined with that of Matan Kaminer, one of five high school seniors that together refused to enlist in the army because they believe Israel's actions in the Territories are wrong. Awaiting trial, Kaminer reflects on his controversial decision and the consequences he faces.
There are more than 1,600 Refuseniks in Israel and this number is growing. Many Israelis condemn them for failing their nation; however, they stand by their conscience in the hopes of ending the occupation. "The time I spent in jail was the most important time I served for my country; for my friends in my unit, for my family, for the security of Israel," says Major Chen Alon. Capturing a moment in the ever-changing political landscape of the region, Raised to Be Heroes uses the unforgettable experiences of Refuseniks to inspire an essential dialogue about peace, democracy and personal responsibility.
~ "This documentary is a powerful, gripping examination of citizen-state obligations in a democracy. The eloquent testimony of Israeli refuseniks makes the moral and political dilemmas involved in Israel's control of Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza real for viewers. It honors the complexity of the issues -- notably citizens' obligations to
serve in the military when elected officials so decide, along with the government's obligation to use the military in ways that actually serve the security of the state and comply with international law. Raised To Be Heroes is a superb addition to courses concerned with Israel, the Arab- Israeli conflict, ethics, or state-society relations." - Daniel Lieberfeld, PhD, Center for Social and Public Policy, Duquesne University
~ "A powerful film, told from an Israeli point of view and filled with sympathy for the soldiers refusing to serve in the occupied territories as well as for the problems Israeli society at large faces in the continued conflict. A perfect introduction for college audiences, especially Hillels and other Jewish groups into a much-needed debate over the realities of Israel's actions in the Territories today." - Mark LeVine, Professor, Dept. of History, University of California- Irvine, Author, Overthrowing Geography: Jaffa, Tel Aviv and the Struggle for Palestine, An Impossible Peace: Oslo and the Burdens of History, and Reapproaching Borders: New perspectives on the Study of Israel- Palestine
~ "Raised to be Heroes is a film that will no doubt generate a great deal of controversy. No clear answers are given, but it is an excellent look at what happens when people act out of conscience. The main voices in the film are all experienced soldiers. Their names, rank and company are all identifiedˇKThe refuseniks all feel that their refusal makes them human. How important is humanity? That could be a good discussion starting point in any senior level class. Highly Recommended. " - Frank Loreto, St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School, CM Magazine
~ "Israel's prolonged occupation of the West Bank, and previously Gaza, has resulted in suffering and countless human rights abuses of Palestinians. It is no wonder that perhaps hundreds of soldiers, including officers, have become outspoken dissidents. Many have refused to continue serving in the Palestinian territories. Typically they are incarcerated for challenging the authority of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). In this presentation they speak out, telling of some of the worst abuses. Surprisingly perhaps, two sides of the issue are clearly presented in this documentary. Thus this serves as a stimulating and useful introduction to Israel's ongoing security dilemma and the moral questions that soldiers confront." - Paul Conway, Professor of Political Science, SUNY College at Oneonta
~ "One can't help but be movedˇKAn interesting facet of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict that invites serious debate, Raised to be Heroes is recommended." - Video Librarian
~ "A sober and serious piece of work." - Eye Weekly
~ "The refuseniks highlighted in the film are all articulate, rational, and passionate, and present their cases wellˇKthe VO narration going from 1948 to the 1990s is a fair overview of the situation that bends over backwards to be evenhanded, although the starting position is pro- Zionist (that the creation of Israel was fine, although tragedy for the Palestinians followed). The filmmakers are careful to make sure that they are only condemning the occupation policy and not Israel's other historical and military policiesˇKThis cautious narration is good, because it keeps the focus on the refusenik issue." - Michelle Mart, Associate Professor of History, Penn State, Berks- Lehigh
~ Bronze Plaque, Columbus International Film and Video Festival
~ Silver Audience Award, Amnesty International Film Festival, Vancouver
~ Hot Docs Film Festival
~ Calgary International Film Festival
~ Vancouver International Film Festival
~ Cork Film Festival
~ International Film Festival (Norway)
~ Whistler Film Festival
~ Independent Film and Video Festival (Victoria, Canada)
~ Human Rights Film Festival
DVD (Color) / 2006 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adult) / 54 minutes
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Featuring Dr.Jack Shaheen
This groundbreaking documentary takes aim at a slanderous aspect of cinematic history that has run virtually unchallenged from the earliest days of silent film to today's biggest Hollywood blockbusters. Featuring acclaimed author Dr. Jack Shaheen, Reel Bad Arabs explores a long line of degrading images of Arabs, from Bedouin bandits and submissive maidens to sinister sheikhs and gun-toting terrorists. Along the way, it offers devastating insights into the origin of these stereotypical images and their development at key points in U.S. history. By inspiring critical thinking about the social and political effects of these Hollywood caricatures, the film challenges viewers to recognize the urgent need for counter-narratives that do justice to the diversity and humanity of Arab people, and the reality and richness of Arab history and culture.
~ "Good documentaries can move you or inform you. Great documentaries can change your entire point of view. Reel Bad Arabs falls into the latter category." - FAIZAN RASHID, Film Critic, The Emirates Network
~ "Jack Shaheen is a one-man anti-defamation league.'' - HELEN THOMAS, Distinguished Journalist & Author
~ "Good documentaries can move you or inform you. Great documentaries can change your entire point of of fairness and sanity in pointing out Hollywood's ongoing egregious smearing of Arabs." - HOWARD ROSENBERG, Los Angeles Times TV Critic
DVD (With English Subtitles) / 2006 / () / 50 minutes
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By Juliano Mer Khamis
This personal narrative tells the story of a children's theatre group on the West Bank that was established by Arna Mer Khamis, who grew up in a Zionist family and later married a Palestinian Arab. Directed by Arna's son Juliano, Arna's Children shifts back and forth in time to show the children in rehearsal from 1989 to 1996, and then revisits them later to discover the tragic fates that awaited three of them. Devastating and shocking, the film reveals the tragedy and horror of lives trapped by the circumstances of the Israeli occupation.
~ "Mer is not addressing the Jewish or Arab viewer. He is addressing those who do not know what a life without hope is." - YITZKAH LAOR, Haaretz Daily
DVD / 2004 / () / 84 minutes
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Featuring interviews with Noam Chomsky, Hanan Ashrawi, Robert Fisk, and Rabbi Michael Lerner among many others.
This critically-acclaimed documentary exposes how the foreign policy interests of American political elites work in combination with Israeli public relations strategists to exercise a powerful influence over news coverage of the Middle East conflict. Combining American and British TV news clips with the insights of analysts, journalists, and political activists, Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land provides an historical overview, a devastating comparison of U.S. and international media coverage, and an examination of the factors that have distorted U.S. media reporting and American public opinion.
~ "Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land should be required viewing for every citizen in the United States." - ROBERT McCHESNEY, University of Illinois
DVD (With English, French, Spanish Subtitles) / 2004 / () / 80 minutes
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By Amal Moghaizel
"I worry I'll never get married or have a family. We all fear, war, death and destruction. We all have the same fear of tomorrow." - Dina, an Egyptian student in Beirut
Filmed after the fall of Saddam Hussein, 20 YEARS OLD IN THE MIDDLE-EAST traverses the region - from Jordan to Syria, Iran, and Lebanon - to take the pulse of Arab and Iranian youth.
The film offers an opportunity for Western college students to truly understand the lives and attitudes of their Middle Eastern counterparts: how they're different, and how they're the same.
Hyam Pourla, an Iranian theology student and aspiring mullah who clandestinely sings in a heavy metal band, says, "There are big games being played in the region. Great strategies decided for the Middle EastˇK We are powerless. All people can do is suffer."
It's a feeling echoed by many, including Abbud, a Jerusalem-born Palestinian studying in Jordan: "We are reduced to silence," he says. "We can't speak freely here."
"We're now lacking ideals," says Kamal, who studies at the American University in Beirut. "The Arab myth is fading. We don't know where to look for references. We're lost."
And Badder, who dreams of being a BBC announcer, laments, "We're ashamed to say we're Arabs and proud of it."
Although wary of the future, this generation craves freedom, and wants to feel pride in themselves and their cultures. For many, dreams and hopes co-exist with hopelessness and despair.
As America becomes more deeply embroiled in the region, 20 YEARS OLD IN THE MIDDLE-EAST offers an indispensable snapshot of the attitudes of a generation that desires liberty over extremism, but at the same time fears that American policies will lead them into ever more warfare, and which - above all - simply wants to pursue their dreams.
~ "This film should be required viewing for leaders and citizens alike in the Middle East because it not only captures - often with great sadness - the frustration and despair of the Middle East's youth but it also offers solutions to these problems, if we would only listen. It is significant that of all the young people interviewed in the film, it is a young woman who is the most passionate about implementing change. It is not so much an issue of whether she will realize this dream or not. More importantly, she has passion for that dream and she believes she can bring about change." - Arabic Women's eNews
~ "Recommended. Culled from interviews conducted just two months after the fall of Baghdad in May 2003, TWENTY YEARS OLDˇK offers a newsworthy picture of a youthful Middle East not all that familiar to Western audiences - and a shame it isn't. More moving than anything is the universal call for more freedom, greater freedom. Thus the effects of oppressive government weigh heavily on the idealistic young; all the more reason to make the film available to often complacent American undergraduates." - Educational Media Reviews Online
DVD (Color) / 2003 / () / 52 minutes
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