Tag Archives: arab

Interview with filmmaker Ibtisam Mara’ana

Wednesday I had the opportunity to interview Palestinian-Arab Israeli filmmaker Ibtisam Salh Mara’ana.

Mara’ana came to following up the screening of her new  documentary “Lady Kul el-Arab” at the Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival.

Most of Mara’ana’s films are documentaries. “Paradise Lost” is a documentary about the small fishing village on the Mediterranean of Paradise, where Mara’ana was born in 1975. “One of the few Arab communities remaining after the 1948 war, Paradise became culturally and politically isolated as Jewish settlements sprung up around it, and today it is a place defined by silence and repression,” according to the Women Make Movies Web site.

Women’s stories and culture are common themes in Mara’ana’s films. 3 Times Divorced” is about a Palestinian woman in Israel whose abused by her Arab-Israeli husband. The woman is left divorced, struggling to get her children back, and battling the state of Israel in court.

“Lady Kul el-Arab” is about a young Druze woman who is a finalist in an Israeli-Arab beauty pageant. She decides to enter an Israeli beauty pageant as well, when her family and life is confronted with a series of events and cultural disputes.

The screening was followed by a question and answer session, and I sat down with Mara’ana to talk about her filmmaking. Mara’ana graduated from the Jewish-Arab academic center of Givat Haviva where she studied cinema.

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Arab arts comes to the Kennedy Center

“Arabesque: Arts of the Arab World” opened at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. yesterday.

The three week festival is bringing together and showcasing Arab cultures of 22 Arab nations. According to The Associated Press, 800 artists will be featured in the $10 million festival and it may be, “the largest presentation of Arab arts ever in the United States.”

Included are such exhibitions as cuisine, music, dance, art installations, film, fashion, literature and more. 

Part of the goal in bringing “Arabesque” to the United States was to understand and recognize Arab  people and culture rather than the images of war and terror and the politics attached.

Not only intended to unite American culture with Arab culture, the festival brings together various Arab cultures all the way from Morocco to Egypt to Lebanon to Iraq.

“Signing artists on to the festival turned out to be only the first level of complication,” reported Ellen McCarthy of the Washington Post. Other troubles were getting past the language barrier when scouting out artists, and then trying to find individual’s homes. Communication was an issue as few signed-on members had phones or Internet access. Traveling was also difficult as the visa process took nine months to complete, and services to airports and back had to be scheduled.

Organizing the festival, the Kennedy Center partnered with the League of Arab States. Funding contributions were made by the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, the HRH Foundation, and others. 

Overall, it is hoped that people will leave with a better understanding of Arab culture and embrace a culture they may know little about.

Visit the News Hour Web site to watch a report and read its transcript about the festival.

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