According to the Arab American Foundation, during the month of April, [we] formally recognize the achievements of Arab Americans through the celebration of National Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM). Across the country, cultural institutions, school districts, municipalities, state legislatures, public servants, and non-profit organizations issue proclamations and engage in special events that celebrate our community’s rich heritage and numerous contributions to society.
Arab America and the Arab America Foundation launched the National Arab American Heritage Month initiative in 2017, with just a handful of states recognizing the initiative. Each year, our grass-roots network of over 250 Arab American volunteers in 26 states gathers hundreds of proclamations from their states, counties, municipalities, and local school districts. If you would like to join a state team please contact Dr. Amal David.
The President of the United States recognized the month of April as National Arab American Heritage Month with a special commemorative letter to our organization. In 2021, Congress, the U.S. Department of State, and 37 state governors issued proclamations commemorating the initiative. Additionally, the following states have passed permanent legislation designating the month of April as NAAHM: Illinois; Oregon; Virginia; and Indiana (Senate).
The following resources require IUB CAS Authentication.
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (94min., 1974) Lonely widow Emmi Kurowski meets Arab worker Ali in a bar during a rainstorm. They fall in love--to their own surprise, and to the shock of family, colleagues, and drinking buddies. An emotional power that reflects the ethnic tensions within German society.
Constructing the Terrorist Threat ( 56min., 2016) Deepa Kumar, a leading scholar on Islamophobia, argues that U.S. media have turned Arabs and Muslims into the new face of terror, even though only a tiny fraction of Muslims and Arabs have ever committed a terror attack, and terror attacks by homegrown right-wing violent extremist groups have far outnumbered attacks by Muslims and Arabs since Sept. 12, 2001.
Detroit Unleaded (91min., 2012) A fresh take on boy-meets-girl comedy set in Detroit. Sami (E.J. Assi) runs his immigrant family's gas station with his cousin Mike (Mike Batayeh, Breaking Bad), a charismatic hustler with dreams of expanding into an unleaded empire. More than just a pit stop for late-night gas and rolling papers, their station is where a steady stream of unforgettable and often hilarious customers flow through. When a gorgeous "up-do girl" named Najlah (Nada Shouhayib) comes to deliver cheap long-distance phone cards, Sami quickly falls for her from behind the bulletproof glass. Afraid her overprotective brother Fadi (Steven Soro) will disapprove, Najlah begins an under-the-counter romance with Sami, making his shift anything but routine.
Edward Said on Orientalism (41min., 1998) Based on Edward Said's influential book, On Orientalism, this engaging and lavishly illustrated video examines the context within which he conceived the book, as well as his cultural analysis of media representations of the Middle East and Islam. In a post-9/11 world, this video provides an indispensable perspective.
La Haine ( 98min., 1995) Mathieu Kassovitz took the film world by storm with "La Haine," a gritty, unsettling, and visually explosive look at the racial and cultural volatility in modern-day France, specifically the low-income banlieue districts on Paris's outskirts. Aimlessly passing their days in the concrete environs of their dead-end suburbia, Vinz (Vincent Cassel), Hubert (Hubert Kounde), and Said (Said Taghmaoui) -- a Jew, an African, and an Arab -- give human faces to France's immigrant populations, their bristling resentment at their marginalization slowly simmering until it reaches a climactic boiling point. A work of tough beauty, LA HAINE is a landmark of contemporary French cinema and a gripping reflection of its country's ongoing identity crisis. Kassovits won Best Director and the film was nominated for the Palm d'Or at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival.
Life in Occupied Palestine ( 66min., 2014) In "Life in Occupied Palestine," Anna Baltzer, a graduate of Columbia University and the Jewish-American granddaughter of Holocaust refugees, documents her experience as a volunteer with the International Women's Peace Service in the West Bank. Baltzer provides a straightforward account of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while chronicling the almost unbearable living conditions of Palestinians under the Occupation. An accessible introduction to a difficult subject for American students.
Limbo (103min., 2020) A young musician is separated from his Syrian family and stuck on a remote Scottish island while awaiting the fate of his asylum request. As he wanders the epic landscapes of his new surroundings, he strives for a better understanding of his complex past and daunting future. (digital file on order)
Peace, Progaganda, and the Promised Land... ( 80min., 2014) 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 and 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. Featuring interviews with Noam Chomsky, Hanan Ashrawi, Robert Fisk, and Rabbi Michael Lerner, among many others.
Reel Bad Arabs (50min., 2006) This groundbreaking documentary dissects 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, the film explores a long line of degrading images of Arabs - from Bedouin bandits and submissive maidens to sinister sheikhs and gun-wielding "terrorists" - along the way offering devastating insights into the origin of these stereotypic images, their development at key points in US history, and why they matter so much today.
Salt of this Sea ( 104min., 2010) Soraya, born in Brooklyn in a working class community of Palestinian refugees, discovers that her grandfather's savings were frozen in a bank account in Jaffa when he was exiled in 1948. Direct, stubborn, and determined to reclaim what is hers, she fulfills her life-long dream of "returning" to Palestine. Slowly she is taken apart by the reality around her and is forced to confront her own anger. She meets Emad, a young Palestinian whose ambition, contrary to hers, is to leave forever. Tired of the constraints that dictate their lives, they know in order to be free, they must take things into their own hands, even if it's illegal. (digital file on order)
Theeb (101min., 2014) Nominated for the 2016 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. In 1916, while war rages in the Ottoman Empire, Hussein raises his younger brother Theeb ("Wolf") in a traditional Bedouin community that is isolated by the vast, unforgiving desert. The brothers' quiet existence is suddenly interrupted when a British Army officer and his guide ask Hussein to escort them to a water well located along the old pilgrimage route to Mecca. So as not to dishonor his recently deceased father, Hussein agrees to lead them on the long and treacherous journey. The young, mischievous Theeb secretly chases after his brother, but the group soon find themselves trapped amidst threatening terrain riddled with Ottoman mercenaries, Arab revolutionaries, and outcast Bedouin raiders. Naji Abu Nowar's powerful and assured directorial debut, set in the land of Lawrence of Arabia, is a wondrous "Bedouin Western" about a boy who, in order to survive, must become a man and live up to the name his father gave him. (digital file on order)
Write Down, I am an Arab (73min., 2014) "Write Down, I am an Arab" tells the story of Mahmoud Darwish, the Palestinian national poet and one of the most influential writers of the Arab world. His writing shaped Palestinian identity and helped galvanize generations of Palestinians to their cause. Born in the Galilee, Darwish's family fled during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and returned a few years later to a ruined homeland. These early experiences would provide the foundation for a writing career that would come to define an entire nation. Like other Palestinian citizens of Israel at the time, Mahmoud Darwish grew up under military law that prevented freedom of movement. In 1964 his defiant poem, "Write Down, I am an Arab", lands him in prison and turns him into an icon of the Arab world. At the same time, he meets and falls in love with Tamar Ben-Ami, a young Jewish-Israeli. (digital file on order)
Africa Dreaming ( 104min., 2007) Sophia's Homecoming: from Namibia, a woman who has worked as a domestic for 12 years in the city comes home to her husband, children and sister and to a terrible discovery. She realizes that the ruptures caused by apartheid can never be repaired. Sabriya: Shows how a modern free-spirited woman disrupts the exquisitely patterned mosaic of male Maghrebi society as represented by two Tunisian chess fanatics. So be it: Based on a play by Wole Soyinka, follows the destruction of a well intentioned foreign doctor confronting primal fear, rage and powerlessness in a remote Senegalese village.
Alexandria, again and forever = Iskandarya kaman wa kaman (104min., 2000) Yehia joins a hunger protest which has brought together the entire Eqyptian filmmaking industry. As the strikers increase their demands, Yehia becomes increasingly attracted to Amir, a young actor whose film career he launched. Soon, however, Yehia's obsession is replaced by his infatuation with Nadia, the lovely ingenue he has decided to cast in his next film.
Alexandria, why? = Iskandarya, leh? (127min., 2000) Eighteen year-old Yehia retreats from the poverty, death and suffering all around him in World War II Egypt and dreams of one day becoming a Hollywood filmmaker. But after he falls in love and discovers the harsh truths behind the European occupation of his country, Yehia reassesses his identity and allegiances.
Algeria Women at War (49min., 2008) Algerian women recall their experiences during the French-Algerian War, reflecting also on how the roles and perceptions of women in Algeria have changed in the decades since.
Amreeka (96min., 2010) Written and directed by Cherian Dabis, Amreeka chronicles the adventures of Muna, a single mother who leaves the West Bank with Fadi, her teenage son, with dreams of an exciting future in the promised land of small town Illinois.
Capernaum (123min., 2018) Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki's tale of after fleeing his negligent and abusive parents, a hardened, streetwise twelve-year-old boy sues them to protest the life they've given him.
Egyptian story = Hadutha Misriyya (120min., 1982) Yehia, now a famous Egyptian director, becomes ill with a serious heart condition that requires surgery. During the operation, a child embodying his conscience accuses Yehia of betraying his ideals. A trial ensues, in which various witnesses testify about "the defendant." Yehia is forced to confront hidden feelings involving his life, work and country. The child conscience loses the trial, but a redundant organ is expelled from Yehia's body. Will he survive the ordeal?
The Feeling of Being Watched (88min., 2018) In the Arab-American neighborhood outside of Chicago where director Assia Boundaoui grew up, most of her neighbors think they have been under surveillance for over a decade. While investigating their experiences, Assia uncovers tens of thousands of pages of FBI documents that prove her hometown was the subject of one of the largest counterterrorism investigations ever conducted in the U.S. before 9/11, code-named "Operation Vulgar Betrayal." With unprecedented access, The Feeling of Being Watched weaves the personal and the political as it follows the filmmaker's examination of why her community fell under blanket government surveillance.
Feminism Inshallah: the Story of Arab Feminism (52min., 2014) Filmmaker and author Feriel Ben Mahmoud tracks the progress of Arab women in their long march to assert their full rights and achieve empowerment.
Imraʼah wa-kāmīrā (59min., 2012) A divorced Moroccan woman works as a wedding photographer. This gets her in trouble with her family because she spends most of her time at glamorous weddings and is becoming a source of gossip in her neighborhood.
Public Access to free streaming titles:
Online Resources: several of the links below are hubs for women interested in filmmaking, along with films produced, directed, and created by women.