Karama is a non-profit organization composed of Arab and non-Arab members. This Friday, the organization launches its 11th edition San Diego Arab Film Festival.
Karama focuses on issues of the Arab and Islamic world with particular emphasis on Palestine. In 2012, he launched a film festival.
“The film festival has always had two purposes,” explained Larry Christian, president of Karama. “One was to be a celebration of Arab culture by the local community which has not been recognized for a long time. The other part was to show the community as a whole an honest and real representation of Arab culture; show its essential humanity, its creativity, and recognizing that Arab culture has been a dynamic and major contributor to global culture as we know it. And that by doing this, we then provide a basis for overcoming the very negative stereotypes that dominate the public discourse about Arabs and that have been true in film terms since Rudolph Valentino and ‘The Sheik’, but especially since 9/11. Film is a great way to show humanity.”
And that’s why film is a great way to challenge stereotypes. It can also offer different perspectives on stories people think they know. Stories that have been taught to many from a white and western perspective.
“Heliopolis,” screened March 26, looks at Algerian resistance to French colonialism in 1945 while “Trapped,” screened March 19, focuses on women from diverse social backgrounds who find themselves caught in the turmoil of the early days. of the 2011 Egyptian revolution. Both movies show a side of the story that people don’t often see.
The well-crafted “Heliopolis” reveals the horrors of the French massacre of tens of thousands of Muslims just after the end of World War II. And to deepen this colonial history, Karama associates this film with “Leur Algérie”, a documentary about a couple who came from Algeria to France 60 years ago and reflects on what made them leave their homeland.
The festival showcases films that not only tackle global issues, but also smaller, more personal stories. Women take center stage in many film selections this year. A showcase film, “The Daughters of Abdulrahman”, looks at the different struggles of four sisters in modern Jordan. The film leans towards melodrama but is anchored by four outstanding female performances and a heartfelt compassion for the challenges they face.
The festival opens Friday night with the Palestinian film “The Stranger” set in the occupied Golan Heights.
“We didn’t plan it that way, but our opening night movie came in just in time,” Christian said. “How come there are occupations and annexations happening in Europe that are widely condemned, [but] those that perform in the Arab world are accepted and recognized even by the United States”
Christian, who is not Arab, became involved in San Diego’s Arab community decades ago. His interest in social activism began when he was studying history at UC Berkeley in the 1960s.
“I was interested in questions of how the colonized world reacted to the growing national liberation movement and the independence of so many countries at that time,” he recalls. “I then concluded that my life story was really going to revolve around how this happened, and the goals and success of colonized peoples in achieving their aspirations.”
In the 1980s, his wife, a lawyer, became embroiled in a case in Los Angeles — called the THE Eight – where a group of Palestinians were raided and apprehended by the FBI, and the government wanted to deport them because they were radicals.
“So I started getting involved in that,” Christian said. “And then the first Palestinian Intifada happened, and a group of Arabs started holding night vigils. One of them, whom I had met through that other LA Eight affair, approached me and told me that they really needed to have some literature so they could give people…so they really wanted someone who was native English speaking to develop them, and I would be that person. evolved into the forerunner of Karama, which was called the Center for Culture and Information of the Middle East.
Christian added that because he is retired, he has more time than many other board members to devote to running a film festival.
The Karama Arab Film Festival is taking place the next three weekends in person at Photographic Arts Museum with an online shorts program from March 11 to April 4.
Arabic dinners will be available for purchase each night of the festival. A special North African menu will be offered to you on the closing night. Advance purchase price is $12. The purchase price on site is $14. The price includes dinner, water and sales tax. Baklava, coffee and tea will be available for an additional $2.00.
Programming of the film festival:
Friday, March 11, 7:30 p.m.
“The Stranger” (2021, Palestine)
Directed by Ameer Fahker Eldin
Saturday March 12, 6:00 p.m.
“Eleven Reflections on September” (2021, US)
Directed by Andrea Assaf
“Selahy (My Weapon)” (short film)
Directed by Alaa Zabara
“Casablanca Beats” (2021, Morocco)
Directed by Nabil Ayouch
Friday, March 18, 7:30 p.m.
“Farah” (2021, Lebanon)
Directed by Kenton Oxley and Hassiba Freiha
Saturday March 19, Europe 6:15 p.m.
“Trapped” (2021, Egypt)
Directed by Manal Khaled
“Abdulrahman’s Daughters” (2021, Jordan)
Directed by Zaid Abu Hamdan
Friday, March 25, 7:30 p.m.
“The Anger” (2021, Lebanon, Germany)
Directed by Maria Ivanova
Saturday March 26, 6:15 p.m.
“Their Algeria” (2020, Algeria, Qatar, Switzerland, France)
Directed by Lina Soualem
“Heliopolis” (2021, Algeria)
Directed by Djafar Gacem