Expanding Cinema in Diaspora: Local Short Films


The Main 3 Sun, Sep 30, 2018 12:30 PM
Ticket Prices
General Public:$12.00
Senior (Box Office Only):$10.00
Film Info
Program:Twin Cities Arab Film Festival
Tags:Shorts Program
Runtime:18 mins


In this segment, we showcase films by and about Arab American artists and filmmakers who use cinema to tell their unique stories and to expand definitions of what it means to be visible while living in diaspora. From the emerging work of Sara Gama and Leila Awadallah to the experimental styles of artists Darine Hotait and Andrea Shaker, these short films challenge our ideas about cinematic narratives while expanding the frame of our local community. Some films here can be described as “expanded cinema,” which is a type of filmmaking that pushes the boundaries of the medium by incorporating various forms of visual art, performance, and music.

Like Salt

Boxing and jazz—both rely on improvisation and resilience. Hala (Jessica Damouni), an Arab American boxer in New York City and Kendrick (Ben Williams), an African American jazz musician, improvise their way through a passive aggressive America. She's Miles Davis in boxing gloves and he's Muhammad Ali refusing to live a lie.

Director: Darine Hotait | Narrative | Runtime: 25 mins | 2018 | Country: US | Language: English, Arabic, English Subtitles | Minnesota Premiere

Website | Facebook | Trailer

Festivals and Awards:
Montreal World Film Festival, Canada, 2018
Marfa Film Festival, US, 2018
Festival des Cinémas Arabes, France, 2018
Boston Palestine Film Festival, US, 2018
Cinetopia Film Festival, US, 2018

Director: Darine Hotait is a fiction writer and filmmaker based in New York. Her films have been broadcast on Sundance TV, AMC Networks, BBC Channel, and Shorts TV. Her work has screened at over one hundred international film festivals and received numerous awards, as well as a nomination for the Goethe Award. She is the founder of the incubator project Cinephilia Productions.

our home is asleep but there is a rumble

Following the vividness of memories, imagined and constructed, our home is asleep but there is a rumble creates a floating homeland manifested in dreams. A version of this film was part of a dance work choreographed by Awadallah at The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago in May.

Director: Noelle Awadallah | Experimental | Runtime: 7 mins | 2018 | Country: US | Language: English | Minnesota Premiere

Director: Noelle Awadallah is a Palestinian American improviser and choreographer born in South Dakota. She graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BFA in dance. Her work explores the rediscovery of her people’s history through research and the unearthing through movement of memories inhabiting her bones. Her interest in capturing the moving body on camera has led her recently to experimental film.

an uncapitolized watan

Where do ancestral roots live? Do they criss-cross like a braid through your spine? Flickering visions you think you’ve seen before... awaken. Your ancestral cells shaken from generations of lives under occupation—generations that led to you. Where is home in the body and where is home in the land? Searching for an uncapitolized watan.

Director: Leila Awadallah, Noelle Awadallah | Experimental | Runtime: 5 mins | 2017 | Country: US | Language: English

Director: Leila Awadallah is a Palestinian American dancer, choreographer, filmmaker, and performance artist based in the Twin Cities. She holds a BFA in dance from the University of Minnesota. Her work explores intersections of diasporic Arab identity, Palestinian stories, and ancestral connection. Leila has received a SAGE Award and a Jerome Travel Grant and is a Springboard 20/20 Fellow.


After passing her driver’s exam, Arab American teen Zeinah heads out on Saturday night with her best friend Amy to see a movie. At least that’s what they’ve told their parents. Really, these budding rebels drive into Washington DC to try to get into a nightclub to see punk band Anti-Flag.

Director: Sara Gama | Narrative | Runtime: 12 mins | 2017 | Country: US | Language: English | Minnesota Premiere

Festivals and Awards:
Eye On You Film Night, US, 2018
Williamsburg Film Festival, US, 2017

Director: Sara T. Gama was born in Beirut, Lebanon to an American mother and a Saudi father and was raised traveling between America and Saudi Arabia. As a teenager she was schooled primarily in America and England, and moved to the Washington DC area after graduating high school.

I Am No Bird

Samer Saem Eldahr is an electronic musician from Aleppo navigating his new life in America. He launched his music career as a Syrian exile in Beirut under the artist name Hello Psychaleppo, pioneering a genre of electronic dance music he dubbed “electro-tarab.” After immigrating to Minnesota, he takes on an ambitious album, “Toyour," exploring themes of borders and freedom, which had its album release concert at the 2017 Arab Film Fest. “Toyour” meets real-life politics when the Trump administration’s Muslim ban forces Eldahr to cancel international shows, jeopardizing the release of his album in Beirut.

Director: Andrew Cagle | Documentary | Runtime: 21 mins | 2017 | Country: US | Language: English | World Premiere

Director: Andrew Cagle is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker and cinematographer. Before landing in New York, Andrew lived between the US, Middle East, and Africa for several years, including in Lebanon and South Sudan. His credits as cinematographer include work for VICE on HBO, Viceland, Great Big Story, the History Channel, and independent feature documentaries.

on bayt

A series of films comprised of visual and textual fragments, on bayt explores memories as frozen, moving, and existing outside of time. The body is presented as a metaphor for home and movement as a metaphor for memory. The footage was captured in the filmmakers’ ancestral Lebanese village, Ma‘asser el Chouf.

Director: Andrea Shaker | Experimental | Runtime: 8 mins | 2017 | Country: US | Language: English | Minnesota Premiere

Director: Andrea Shaker was raised in Connecticut savoring her Sito’s stories, dihan and eggs, and lebneh wa na‘na‘. After earning her MFA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she moved to Minnesota where she is a professor of art at the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University. Her photographic and moving image works have exhibited nationally and internationally.



Mizna presents the thirteenth Twin Cities Arab Film Festival in partnership with the Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul. The Arab Film Fest showcases modern Arab cinema, featuring debut screenings of independent narrative, documentary, and experimental features and shorts.