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Middle East Studies

Middle East Studies


Director: Amber Fares

The Speed Sisters are the first all-woman race car driving team in the Middle East. Grabbing headlines and turning heads at improvised tracks across the West Bank, these five women have sped their way into the heart of the gritty, male-dominated Palestinian street car-racing scene. Weaving together their lives on and off the track, Speed Sisters takes you on a surprising journey into the drive to go further and faster than anyone thought you could.

DVD (Arabic and English with English subtitles) / 2016 / () / 80 minutes

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Director: David Gaynes

Choosing life in life's final chapter is the poignant subtext of this new powerful documentary, a lyrical portrait of eight nursing home residents who make a pilgrimage to Israel.

Offered a seat on the bus for a 10-day tour, the viewer accompanies individuals with various personal theologies in and out of museums, crossing Israeli landscapes from mountains to desert. But Next Year Jerusalem is less a story about tourists in a foreign land than it is a meditation on the sanctity of human experience and a tribute to the wisdom acquired in the course of a lifetime. Earnest and nuanced, it is a true exploration of living and dying, hope and fear, travel and memory. A celebration of and a reverent tribute to life's eldest travelers.

DVD / 2014 / () / 72 minutes

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Director: Drew Taylor and Larry Weinstein

"In 1979 we found ourselves in an impossible situation. We had three CIA operatives in Tehran, but all three had been taken hostage in the American Embassy with the others. In those troubled days, we reached out to the Canadians. Ambassador Ken Taylor became our greatest asset. He was our man in Tehran." - President Jimmy Carter

Our Man in Tehran is an in- depth, intimate exploration of the true story behind Ben Affleck's Oscar-winning film Argo. In this gripping new documentary, the story of the "Canadian Caper" is told by the man who knows it best: Ken Taylor, Canada's former ambassador to Iran, who hid the six Americans in his official residence and obtained the counterfeit documents that allowed them to make their dramatic escape from Tehran. Based on Robert Wright's book, the film uncovers new information and adds valuable context, including an historical overview of Iran, interviews with the rescued Americans, former Prime Minister Joe Clark, ex-CIA officer Tony Mendez, and many others.

DVD / 2013 / () / 85 minutes

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Director: Duane Baughman & Johnny O'Hara

A recent Sundance world premiere, Bhutto tells the epic story of one of the most fascinating characters of our time- Benazir Bhutto, the first woman in history to lead a Muslim nation. A favored daughter of the family often called the "Kennedys of Pakistan," Benazir was elected Prime Minister after her father was overthrown and executed by his own military. Her two terms in power saw extreme acts of courage and controversy as she tried to clean up Pakistan's corrupt political culture while quelling the fires of radical Islam that threaten to engulf the region. A fascinating array of archival footage and interviews with family members and leading experts brings life to this tale of Shakespearean dimension in the country the Economist calls "the World's most dangerous place."

DVD / 2010 / () / 111 minutes

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Director: Simone Duarte

When Kofi Annan asked Sergio Vieira de Mello to be his top envoy in Baghdad following the US-led invasion of Iraq, he knew that his request was highly unprecedented. There was no doubt de Mello was the most skilled mediator at the UN, perhaps the only one who could balance the delicate intricacies that the situation presented. Yet he was also the person that the UN - and the world - could least afford to lose.

On August 19th, 2003, a bomb exploded outside the UN headquarters in Baghdad. Among the 22 killed was Sergio Vieira de Mello. Years later, the shadow of uncertainty continues to loom heavily over Iraq.

One of the most tireless and effective advocates for peace and stability the world has ever known, the Brazilian born diplomat traversed the globe using his uncommon diplomatic skills to accomplish the impossible. Travelling to four continents and featuring the stories and reminiscences of colleagues and luminaries whose lives he touched, this award-winning documentary is "a testament to the power of diplomacy and the proven impact of an insouciant, simple charm that reaches people on a human level" (Sun Sentinel, Florida).

DVD / 2010 / () / 56 minutes

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Director: Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein

From the co-directors of Gunner Palace comes the darkly humorous story of Fidelis Cloer, a self-confessed war profiteer. In a career spanning two decades of global turmoil, Fidelis has supplied kings, presidents and the odd dictator or two with the finest luxury armored vehicles, hand-crafted in Germany, that money can buy. In his world, where security is a commodity, violence (and better yet, war) present sales opportunities just as rain sells umbrellas.

Always with an on eye on growth opportunities, Fidelis found the perfect war when the US invaded Iraq: it wasn't about selling a dozen cars, it was about the possibility of selling thousands. But as the war evolved, and armor-defeating Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) proliferated, "survivability" became his sales pitch and Fidelis quickly found himself engaged in a pathological arms race with insurgents who upped their explosive ante to defeat his increasingly higher (and more expensive) levels of armor. In war, as in life, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

DVD / 2009 / () / 70 minutes

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Director: Abdullah Oguz

Based on the internationally acclaimed novel by Zulfu Livaneli and set against the backdrop of Turkey's natural wonders, Bliss is an eye-opening story about the taboo subject of honor killings.

When 17-year-old Meryem is found disheveled and unconscious by the side of a lake in the countryside, her family believes the worst - that her chastity has been lost. They turn to the ancient principle of "tore," a strict moral code that condemns Meryem to death. The duty of upholding the family's honor falls upon a distant cousin, Cemal, who has just completed a brutal tour in the military. Together they embark on a surprising journey across traditional and modern-day Turkey in this unforgettable film.

DVD-R (Turkish, With English Subtitles) / 2007 / () / 105 minutes

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Director: Parvez Sharma

In a time when Islam is under tremendous attack from within and without, A Jihad for Love is a daring documentary filmed in twelve countries and nine languages. Muslim gay filmmaker Parvez Sharma has gone where the silence is loudest, filming with great risk in nations where government permission to make this film was not an option.

A Jihad for Love is the world's first feature documentary to explore the complex global intersections between Islam and homosexuality. Parvez enters the many worlds of Islam by illuminating multiple stories as diverse as Islam itself. The film travels a wide geographic arc presenting us lives from India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa and France. Always filming in secret and as a Muslim, Parvez makes the film from within the faith, depicting Islam with the same respect that the film's characters show for it.

DVD (English, French) / 2007 / () / 81 minutes

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Director: Sedika Mojadidi

Filmmaker Sedika Mojadidi and her father, Dr. Qudrat Mojadidi, are Afghans who have made a home in the United States. After the US-led invasion to oust the Taliban, Dr. Mojadidi, a specialist in women's health, decides to return to his war-ravaged homeland to help rebuild and modernize the hospitals and clinics which serve the women of Afghanistan.

Sedika, camera in hand, accompanies her father in order to document this most difficult yet rewarding journey. The result is Motherland Afghanistan, an inspiring portrait of dedication and fortitude in some of the most harsh and unforgiving physical, political and cultural terrain on Earth.

DVD (English and Farsi with English Subtitles) / 2006 / () / 74 minutes

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Director: Alireza Raisian

In this lyrical and intimately nuanced story conceived by Abbas Kiarostami and starring Leila Hatami (from Dariush Mehrjui's Leila), a photographer and his young wife are stranded in a remote Iranian village after their car breaks down. The only adult inhabitant leaves with the photographer to find help, while the woman takes over the duties of teaching the village children - whose parents are nowhere to be found.

DVD (Farsi with English Subtitles) / 2002 / () / 88 minutes

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Director: Farhad Zamani

Googoosh was Iran's most famous and beloved pop diva, until she was silenced following the 1979 Islamic revolution when female singers were labeled "temptresses" and forbidden to release records or perform publicly in the presence of men. In this award-winning documentary, Iranian-American filmmaker Farhad Zamani provides a thoughtful examination of the phenomenon of Googoosh.

Made during the time when Googoosh was forbidden to grant interviews or perform, the film artfully pieces together clips from Googoosh's career on stage and screen, creating a portrait of a woman who is a cultural icon for a country trapped between tradition and modernization. The rise and fall of her career-from her beginnings as a child star prodded by her entertainer father, up to and including her twenty years of silence-is placed in the political and historical context of the ever changing status of women in Iran. Zamani explores his enigmatic subject through interviews with close friends and family, including her only son. And although still banned from performing in her homeland, Googoosh has recently rekindled the hearts of Iranians living abroad on the international touring circuit with sold out shows at such venues as: the Staples Center, Wembly Stadium, and the Air Canada Arena in Toronto.

DVD (Color, with English Subtitles) / 2000 / () / 158 minutes

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Director: Dariush Mehrjui

Influenced by Italian Neorealism, The Cow has the beauty and simplicity associated with the great films of that movement. In a small village in Iran, Hassan cherishes his cow more than anything in the world. While he is away, the cow mysteriously dies, and the villagers protectively try to convince Hassan the cow has wandered off. Grief stricken, Hassan begins to believe he is his own beloved bovine.

The Cow won great acclaim at the Venice Film Festival after being smuggled out of Iran in 1971, and was twice voted the best Iranian film ever made by a survey of Iranian film critics.

DVD (Farsi with English Subtitles) / 1969 / () / 100 minutes

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Directors - Tony Gerber & Jesse Moss

Full Battle Rattle is a revelatory look at the soul of the American war machine, and a potent allegory of America's military misadventures in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

In California's Mojave Desert, the US Army has built a billion dollar urban warfare simulation - a village they call Medina Wasl, populated with Iraqi exiles, all playing pre-assigned roles ranging from mayor to grocer to doctor to mother. An Army Battalion has been given the mission to quell an insurgency and prevent Medina Wasl from slipping into civil war. Covering both sides of the conflict as the mood in the village shifts from friendly banter to violent clashes, the film follows the Army Colonel who commands the Battalion, the Iraqis who play civilians on the battlefield, and the American soldiers cast as insurgents.

From the moment they begin playing their roles, the stakes are high and the emotions at fever pitch. As reality and fantasy overlap, Full Battle Rattle moves from comic to surreal to disturbing - revealing the challenges and perhaps futility of "liberating" people half a world away.

DVD-R (With English Subtitles) / / () / 85 minutes

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