Middle Eastern Americans

Middle East Videography
Jewish Studies Videography
For movie depictions of immigrants, SEE MRC's Movies, Race, and Ethnicity videography

Cut on location and filmed between September 11 and 27, 2001, this film presents the voices of New York City in mourning, a city coming to terms with the aftermath of events on September 11th. Residents respond to the tragedy with spontaneous memorials, public sites of grief and discourse where mobilization for peace and justice begin to emerge culminating with a NYC peace march. The film also offers critical perspectives of U.S. policy leading up to the World Trade Center attack and documents the media treatment and racial backlash against Arab-Americans and how those communities are responding. 28 min. Video/C 8502

Abraham's Children
What does it mean to be young and Muslim in today's America? 'Abraham's children' tells the stories of children from six diverse Muslim families in the greater New York area through their own voices and experiences. The film explores their daily routines and experiences as they search for their own voice and identity; allowing them to share a 'slice of life' with the American public, challenging and explicating stereotypes of a race and religion. Director & producer, Nina Froriep. Dist.: Cinema Guild. 2009. 78 min. DVD X5096

The Arab American Comedy Tour: Featuring America's Most Wanted Comedians!: Maysoon Zayid, Ahmed Ahmed, Dean Obeidallah
"This time it's personal! Three of the nation's hottest Arab-American comedians, Ahmed Ahmed, Dean Obeidallah and Maysoon Zayid perform their one-of-a-kind comedy to audiences in Dearborn, Michigan and Seattle, Washington bringing home the familiar adage 'Laugh and the world will laugh with you.' From racial profiling to the many Arab stereotypes, these daring performers will shed light and humor on what it means to be an Arab-American in today's political climate and at all major airports. No passport necessary as comedy is universal." 2006. 95 min. DVD 6701

Arab Americans (Multicultural Peoples of North America; 3)
Celebrates the heritage of Arab Americans by tracing the history of their emigration to North America, showing the unique traditions they brought with them, and who they are today. Discusses when and why they emigrated, where they settled, which occupations they engaged in and who the important Arab American leaders are in North America today. Includes an inside look at the life of a family who share their memories and struggles to maintain their cultural identity. 1993. 30 min. Video/C 3290

The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour
Featuring comics Maz Jobrani (Iranian American), Aron Kader (Palestinian American) and Ahmed Ahmed (Egyptian American) with special guest Dean Obeidallah (Arab American) In a time when East and West do not seem to understand each other, top stand-up comics of Middle Eastern descent Ahmed Ahmed, Aron Kader, and Maz Jobrani take it upon themselves to single-handedly bridge the gap with an original comedy tour that has become one of the hottest concert tickets in the country. 2007. 64 min. DVD 7868

Benaat Chicago (Daughters of Chicago: growing up Arab and Female in Chicago)
"The result of a year-long collaboration between the AFSC-Chicago and the after school program of the Arab-American Community Center in Chicago. Arab-American teenaged women worked with the video makers to document their lives growing up on Chicago's southwest side. Producers/directors, Jennifer Bing-Canar, Mary Zerkel. Addresses stereotypes and racism toward Arabs and Arab women, while showing what makes many Arab-Americans proud of their cultural heritage. Produced and directed by Jennifer Bing-Canar and Mary Zerkel. 1996. 30 min. DVD 3813

Breaking Bread
A documentary and two shorts by director Hamid Rahmanian. In Breaking bread, a slice-of-life documentary depicts a Korean-American family who invites an Iranian friend for their father's last meal. The joining of disparate cultures affords an unusual chance to examine the interaction of disparate perspectives through the common human realities of food and death. Special features: "The seventh day" an animated film short offers commentary on the biblical story of Genesis (6 min.); "An I within" animated and live-action tell the story of a clown who finds a household of lifeless marionettes (19 min.); Breaking bread film trailer (4 min.); "About shorts" film awards lists. 84 min. DVD X3653

Brothers & Others: The Impact of September 11th on Arabs, Muslims and Southeast Asians in America
Documents the impact of the September 11th tragedy on Muslims and Arabs living in America. This documentary follows a number of immigrants and American families as they struggle in the heightened climate of hate, FBI and INS investigations and economic hardships that erupted in America following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Includes interviews with immigrants, government representatives and legal and historical experts. c2002. 60 min. Video/C 9655

Casting Calls
Does Hollywood's portrayal of villains reinforce racial stereotypes or does the industry give the public what it wants? This program explores the history of film's ethnic "bad guy," looking at sociopolitical and economic forces that create, perpetuate and rehabilitate these characters. Special attention is paid to current depictions of Muslims onscreen. Originally produced in 2001 by Discovery Communications, Inc. "Discovery Channel University". c2004. 47 min. DVD 3746

Caught in Between: What to Call Home in Times of War
Film documents Japanese American communities revisiting the time period of the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. It compares that time period to the time period post-9/11 "War on Terrorism," when Muslims were detained and many immigrants were deported. Directed and produced by Lina Hoshino. c2004. 25 min. DVD 6013

Caught in the Crossfire: Arab Americans in Wartime
Examines the lives of three Arab Americans --a police officer, a Christian pastor, and a journalist for a leading Arab newspaper --and their experiences living in New York City in the months since the terrorist attacks of Sept., 2001. Directed, and filmed by David Van Taylor, Brad Lichtenstein. c2002. 54 min. DVD X3444; Video/C MM58

Description from Icarus Films catalog

Covered Girls
Documentary offering a look at the real lives of three American Muslim teenage girls. The film documents the daily experience of Kiren who coaches her high school basketball team, Amnah who has a black belt in Karate, and Tavasha who is cutting a CD of original rap songs. Their traditional clothing allows them to understand prejudices and to speak out about their faith, especially after 9/11, when people spat upon, pushed and threatened them. They are quite happy that their dress allows men to look at them as people instead of as sex objects. The film follows the girls from a Harlem recording studio to a Brooklyn mosque, revealing typical teenagers suddenly caught in a tug-of-war between religious extremism and the American dream. Directed by Janet McIntyre and Amy Wendel. c2002. 22 min. DVD X4666

Description from Filmakers Library catalog

Freemont, U.S.A.
Fremont, California is a city transformed by new immigration. A rajagopuram rises in a tidy suburban neighborhood, announcing the vital presence of the Hindu community. The diversity of the global Buddhist community is also in evidence, as Thai, Chinese and Burmese temples -- and a women's monastic retreat center -- dot the landscape. Fremont is also home to Peace Terrace, where Muslims and Christians have built side by side, and Gurdwara Road, where a large Sikh community engages in creative forms of outreach. Through civic engagement and interfaith action, strangers have become neighbors in this American city. Yet Fremont has also faced real challenges, especially after 9/11. After Alia Ansari, a Muslim woman, is murdered on a Fremont street while walking her young daughter to school, some wonder if it is a hate crime. Produced & directed by Rachel Antell, Elinor Pierce. c2008. 57 min. DVD X3132

Hijab: An Expression of My Soul
Islamic women living in California explain their religious beliefs in relation to hijab, the head-scarf worn by Muslim women and explain their decision to continue this practice while living in the United States. This film was made through the Ethnic Studies Class at U.C. Berkeley. Produced, directed and edited by Juveria Abdul-Aleem and Irum Shiekh. 1999. 20 min. Video/C 6556

Homeland Insecurity.
Presented as one of sixteen short documentaries examining how civil liberties have been affected since September 11th and the impact that policy shifts in America have had on ordinary people. This film examines the string of hate crimes in the months following September 11th, set within the historical context of jingoism and nationalism in the United States. A film by J. T. Takagi, Herman Lew & Darrell Jones. (For other videos in this series, See MRC Terrorism videography). 2001. 7 min. Video/C 9979

I Call Myself Persian: Iranians in America
Documentary about the difficulties and stereotypes of being an Iranian in America. Explores the Iranian revolution of the late 1970's and the staggering exodus of its people to the United States. The film shows how the Iranian-American community has had to overcome being scapegoats for anti-U.S. sentiments and activities in Iran since the Hostage Crisis in 1979. c2001. 27 min. Video/C MM17

In My Own Skin: The Complexity of Living as an Arab in America
Sheds light on the complexities of the Arab American experience through candid, indepth interviews with five young Arab women living in New York in the months following the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. 2001. 16 min. DVD 3812

Lest We Forget
After the Terrorist attacks of 9/11, some Americans began defining a new "enemy alien" --American Arabs, South Asians, Muslims. Through a critical lens, this film explores a lesson that history has forgotten; of a country alienating its own citizens and violating their civil liberties once again. After Pearl Harbor it was being of Japanese ancestry, now it is Arabic descent, brown skin, belief in Islam. Looks at stories of individuals affected by the Japanese internments during WWII and draws parallels with events post-9/11, investigating how extensive "homeland security" can cross the line to racial attacks and unjust treatment of innocent individuals. c2003. 57 min. Video/C 9974

Me & The Mosque
In North America, a large number of converts to Islam are women. Many are drawn to the religion because of its emphasis on social justice and spiritual equality between the sexes. Ironically many mosques force women to pray behind barriers away from the men, and some mosques do not even permit women to enter the building. In this documentary journalist and filmmaker Zarqa Nawaz visits mosques throughout Canada and talks to scholars, colleagues, friends and neighbours about equal access for women. Written and directed by Zarqa Nawaz. 2005. 52 min. Video/C MM971

The Muslim Americans
Explores the diversity of Muslims in America today, focusing on the communitiesí experience after 9/11, and contrasting life for Muslims here in the United States compared to Muslims in Britain and Europe. Looks at the ongoing conversation American Muslims are having among themselves about life in the United States, including assimilation, discrimination, Muslim youth, religion and politics. Originally broadcast as a segment of the PBS series America at a Crossroads. c2007. 60 min. DVD X980

Muslims in America.
Originally planned as an installment in a periodic series about different religions, this particular broadcast altered its focus in light of the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995. In addition to examining the tenets of the Muslim faith, it focuses on the hasty judgments made in connection to Muslims whenever a terrorist act occurs anywhere in the world. Includes interviews with Muslims living in the United States. ABC News, 1997. 23 min. Video/C 5766

Muslims in Appalachia: Islam in Exile.
Examines the surprisingly rapid growth of Islam in the heart of America's Bible Belt, a predominantly fundamentalist Christian locale. Interviews with refugees living in the region and with experts in American Islam reveal the resiliency of a faith that can thrive in exile. The history of Islam, Islamic contributions to the arts and sciences, and common ground between Muslims and Christians are also highlighted. 2001. 57 min. Video/C 9263

Muslims in Love
How do Americans of the Muslim faith find mates when their culture prohibits dating? This lively film shows us devout American Muslim young people pursuing love and marriage, searching for alternatives to arranged marriages common to traditional Muslim culture. Mohammad and Ferdaus moved from emails and phone calls to family involvement, and then on to the signing of the Nikah, an Islamic marriage contract. Zahra, a law student whose parents are from India, will consider dating only those men who can handle her ambitious career goals. She leaves her quest for Mr. Right to "fate." Jameelah, an African-American Muslim, called off her engagement when she came up against racism, discovering her future in-laws' prejudiced attitudes toward African Americans. African Americans make up 40% of the Muslim population in America but many Muslim parents who are immigrants from abroad object to their children marrying African-American Muslims. Directed by Zerina Usmen. 2010. 25 min. DVD X4667

Description from Filmakers Library catalog

Nazrah: a Muslim Woman's Perspective
A documentary film exploring the perspectives of Muslim women living in the United States concerning the cultural, religious, historical, social and political aspects of Islam. The women discuss their views on Islam, current political events and how they reflect on the image of Islam in the West. They also talk about the difficulty of achieving equality within the Muslim community while also fighting stereotypical portrayals of Muslim women in the U.S. media. Filmed in the Pacific Northwest area of the United States in late 2001 and early 2002. 2003. 55 min. DVD 5607

The New Americans
Follows four years in the lives of a group of contemporary immigrants as they journey to start new lives in America, including a couple from India in Silicon Valley, a Mexican meatpacker in rural Kansas, two families of Nigerian refugees, two baseball players from the Dominican Republic joining the L.A. Dodgers, and a newly-wed Palestinian woman in Chicago. The detailed portraits of these immigrants not only result in a kaleidoscope of immigrant life but offer 'first impressions' of America. Directors (Dominican story), Susana Aikin, Carlos Aparicio ; directors (Palestinian story), Jerry Blumental, Gordon Quinn ; director (Nigerian story), Steve James ; editors, David E. Simpson, Steve James ; series producer, Gita Saedi ; executive producers, Steve James, Gordon Quinn ; presented by Independent Television Service. Kartemquin Educational Films, 2009. 411 min. DVD X1125

Out of Status
Before 9/11, there was an implicit understanding between the INS and immigrant communities that people who had applications pending to legalize their status could reside in the country until an application was approved. After 9/11, and for South Asians and Arabs, the rule changed. The Muslim community, today, is alone among the vast immigrant population to face such targeted enforcement. Out of Status follows four families whose lives were permanently altered, when a member was secretly detained or deported. 2005. 65 min. DVD 6803

Description from Filmakers Library catalog

Persons of Interest
Twelve people are interviewed after they were taken into custody following the September 11th terrorist attacks. These people describe how they were arbitrarily taken into custody and detained for weeks or months without being charged or given access tofamily and legal counsel. Includes short portions of speeches by Attorney General Ashcroft. 2003. 63 min. Video/C MM170

Description from Icarus Films catalog

A Place Called Home
An Iranian woman, after living and working in the United States, explores her controversial decision to move back to Iran, to return to the place she never stopped calling home. This very personal documentary presents interviews with her family -- with her mother and sister in the United States and with her father, who chose to remain in Iran. Examining the complex layers of expatriate and cultural identities, the film also features a rare glimpse of women's lives in contemporary Tehran. 1998. 30 min. Video/C 8368

Point of Attack
Looks at the U.S. government's policy since September 11, 2001 towards immigrants from Middle Eastern and South Asian countries that are predominantly Muslim. Charges that the compulsory registration of men from these countries and the mass detention and deportation of Muslim immigrants are discriminatory actions based on religion. Produced and directed by Kathleen Foster. c2004. 46 min. Video/C MM472

Description from Cinema Guild catalog

Prejudice: More Than Black & White
Muslims, blacks, gays, people with disabilities, and immigrants of every ethnicity and color: they and many other groups have stood in the spotlight glare of intolerance, easy targets for every sort of discrimination and violence. What makes people prone to irrational hate, and what steps can individuals and society take to eradicate it? In this program, psychology professors Susan Fiske and Mahzarin Banaji share their insights and experiences. A pro-gay Baptist minister who formerly took a biblical stance against homosexuality and an ex-imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan who now speaks out for tolerance also offer their views. Contents: Defining prejudice -- Religious & ethnic prejudice -- Prejudice : a brief history -- The Roots of prejudice -- Implicit prejudice : taking the test -- Embracing tolerance : a case study -- Creating change : a reason of hope. Dist.: Films Media Group. 2008. DVD X5136

Shahrbanoo: In this documentary the filmmakers capture the encounter of an American woman with a strictly-conservative Iranian family. Wife and husband team Melissa and Hamid, after arriving at her mother-in-law's house, are befriended by Shahrbanoo, housekeeper to the filmmaker's family, and who invites Melissa to a family gathering. Living in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Tehran, Shahrbanoo introduces Melissa to an intense cultural exchange about subjects ranging from women's place in society to American foreign policy. The film depicts a range of marked differences that nonetheless are accompanied by a deeper layer of commonalities allowing connections across cultural gulfs. Sir Alfred of Charles de Gaulle Airport: A documentary regarding the case of Mehran Karemi Nasseri, an Iranian apparently caught helpless in an 18-year long immigration dilemma. Following a series of earlier attempts at emigration, Mehran, also known as Sir Alfred, lives inside Charles de Gaulle Airport from 1988 to 2006 after ending up in the airports' "Zone d'attente", the waiting area for travelers without papers. Filmed in 2001, while Sir Alfred's situation was still nebulous but in the media spotlight, the initially-supportive filmmaker is soon faced with questions regarding the realities of Sir Alfred's situation and begins to wonder if the story has been completely told. Films by Hamid Rahmanian & Melissa Hibbard. 87 min. DVD X3654

Stand Up: Muslim American Comics Come of Age
One path to understanding is to make people laugh. Now Muslim-Americans have come forward to help dismantle the stereotypes and hatred that have surged since September 11, 2001. From false arrests to death threats, these comics face challenges from both mainstream America and within the Muslim community. All are at critical points in their careers, each evolving differently as a comic. But they are all striving for one thing: to break through the typecasting and achieve mainstream comedy success. Originally broadcast as a segment of the PBS series America at a Crossroads. c2007. 60 min. DVD X985

Tales From Arab Detroit.
A film about music in the culture of an immigrant community (Detroit, Michigan) that takes as its point of departure the performance of the Bani Hilal epic by a story-teller from Egypt. Traditional music and dance to hip-hop to rap are featured here as the largest Arab community in North America blends the old with the new. 1995. 45 min. Video/C 5043

Jabara, Abdeen. "Tales from Arab Detroit." Cineaste 22 (2): 38-39. 1996.

Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam
Taqwacore chronicles the nascent Muslim punk rock movement in America. It was inspired by the work of Michael Knight, a convert to Islam who wrote the novel The Taqwacores (a term combining the Muslim concept of God consciousness with hardcore punk). The film follows Knight and a variety of young Muslim musicians on tour through the U.S. before bringing their music to Lahore, breaking taboos along the way-- from staging a lesbian thrash act at an Islamic convention to stomping on the American flag, or as Knight explains, giving the finger to both sides. Taqwacore charts their attempts to navigate the gap between their cultures and their countries, their religion and their individuality. Written and directed by Omar Majeed. 2009. 82 min. DVD X4426

T.V.'s Promised Land
Presentes a collage gleaned from TV footage appearing between September 2000 and the middle of 2003 showing how Western media depicts Arabs and Muslims. Includes excerpts from Hollywood movies, cartoons, cable news networks, and European news broadcasts. Asserts that Western media has boosted the "good vs. evil" rhetoric of politicans and pundits such as George W. Bush and Colin Powell concerning the Arab/Muslim world. 2003. 75 min. DVD 3380

Under One Sky: Arab Women in North America Talk About the Hijab
Is the hijab veil associated with Muslim women, a symbol of oppression, cultural identity or a combination of both elements? Set against a backdrop of Madison Avenue ads and Hollywood movies that romaticize or demonize the Middle Eastern woman, this program presents the history of Arab womanhood, from the days of early colonial missions to the post-Gulf War era. Informed, articulate Arab women living in North America describe the ideologies behind the veil and tear away the labels imposed by both East and West. 1999. 44 min. Video/C 7346

Voices in Exile: Immigrants and the First Amendment
Examines the question of to what extent aliens are protected by First Amendments rights. Follows the case of eight Palestinian immigrants in Los Angeles who were arrested for distributing PLO literature. The case involved the FBI, the INS, and the ACLU. 1998. 30 min. Video/C 6554

We Too Sing America.
Presented as one of sixteen short documentaries examining how civil liberties have been affected since September 11th and the impact that policy shifts in America have had on ordinary people. This film documents the thoughts, hopes and fears of Muslim, Arab-American and South Asian children in the milieu of a country calling for war and unconditional compliance. Created by Yun Jong Suh. (For other videos in this series, See MRC Terrorism videography) 2001. 12 min. Video/C 9988

Wearing Hijab: Uncovering the Myths of Islam in the United States
Six women who were born into Muslim families or who chose to convert to Islam talk about being Muslim in the United States, and their choice of whether to wear the traditional veil, the hijab. Interviews with spouses and family members also shed light on the spiritual and cultural dimensions of this practice. 2003. 34 min. DVD 5402

Whose Children Are These?
Through the eyes of three Muslim teenagers, the film presents effects of the post-9/11 INS special registration of certain male non-immigrants from Muslim countries. Mohammad, 18, was born in Pakistan, but has lived in the U.S. since the age of seven. He faced the possibility of being sent back to a country he scarcely knew but his congressman intervened at the last minute and he was granted permision to stay. Navila, 19, from Bangladesh, carries on a futile struggle to save her father who was deported back to the very country from which he had fled. Sixteen-year old Hagar Youssef who has dealt with slurs and prejudice because she wears a headscarf, has mobilized groups to combat bias crimes in New York City. She discusses her experiences as well as the ramifications faced by immigrant communities of the Special Registration program. Director, Theresa Thanjan. 2004. 27 min. DVD 6518

Description from Filmakers Library catalog

Why the Hate?: America, from a Muslim Point of View
A television news program produced after the terrorist attacks on America on Sept. 11, 2001, exploring the mixed emotions felt by many Muslims toward the United States. Interview topics include American culture, often perceived as offensive, and U.S. foreign policy, frequently viewed as threatening. By capturing individual opinions and attitudes, news correspondents address common themes in an effort to answer the question of a stunned American populace: "Why do they hate us to much?" Originally presented as a segment of ABC Nightline. 2002. 44 min. Video/C 8678

With Us or Against Us: Afghan-Americans Since 9/11
When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in the late 1970's, many Afghans fled to the U.S. some settling in Fremont, California which became the center of a community of 15,000 exiled Afghans. After the terrorist attacks of September 11th, these Afghan-Americans found themselves caught in a cultural crossfire between their adoptive and native land. Includes interviews with a variety of individuals who tell what it means to be an Afghan in America today and includes a segment on the Fremont community who fought to keep Taliban representatives from taking over their mosque with their brand of fundamentalism. 27 min. Video/C 9254

Description from Filmakers Library catalog

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