FALL 2010 FILM SERIES: FEATURING VISITS FROM DIRECTORS


The Fall 2010 MES Film Series included five films, with special visits from two directors, as well as a panel discussion.

“Little Town of Bethlehem” (2010) was written, directed and filmed by Jim Hanon of EthnoGraphic Media. The film has quickly become internationally renowned and has been screened at numerous universi- ties around the world. It is a documentary about the lives of two men, a Palestinian named Sami Awad and an Israeli named Yonatan Shapira, both of whom have dedicated their lives to the non-violence movement. The screening was followed by a panel discussion with Dr. Bashir Bashir of the Hebrew University of Jerusa- lem, Dr. Miriam Elman of the Political Science Department of the Maxwell School, and Dr. Louis Kriesberg of the Department of Sociology and the Program for the Advancement of Conflict and Collaboration (PARCC) at the Maxwell School.

“Arusi Persian Wedding” (2009) was written and directed by Marjan Tehrani, who joined the screen- ing on campus. The documentary traces the heartwarming adventure of an Iranian American photographer and his American wife during their first joint trip to Iran for their traditional Persian wedding. Director Tehrani, the groom’s sister, chronicles their struggles and excitement on film. The film presents a beautiful, sweet ro- mance against the backdrop of the turbulent relationship between the U.S. and Iran, offering a glimpse into a vibrant and complex country rarely seen in Western media. Tehrani answered students’ questions after the screening and was interviewed for an SU podcast.

MES also screened “Tea on the Axis of Evil” and enjoyed the company of its director, Jean Marie Of- fenbacher. Offenbacher is the CEO of ReOrientfilms, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to creating films that question American stereotypes of “Eastern” cultures. She worked for three years to reverse American stereo- types of Syrians through filming this documentary, winner of the Noor Award for “Outstanding Documentary” at the Arab Film Festival, 2009. “When Syria was admitted to the ‘Axis of Evil’, I decided to move there, alone, to record ordinary life and create a document to stimulate healthy curiosity about this Arab community to counter the vilification that dominated the media and White House rhetoric.” During her visit to Syracuse in October, Offenbacher engaged with students and told anecdotes about her experience working in Syria.

“Günesi Gördum” (“I Saw the Sun,” 2009), a Turkish film, was directed by Mahsun Kirmizigül. The film daringly opens the subject of Kurdish nationalism in Turkey and touches on the country’s internal eco- nomic disparities. The screening, which was accompanied by many of SU’s Turkish students and faculty, was a chance to reflect on Kurdish nationalism, Turkish-European migration, and changing Muslim identities within cosmopolitan centers.

Finally, the semester ended with “The Band’s Visit” (2007), a lighthearted, comedic film. Winner of seven Israeli Film Academy Awards including “Best Picture,” this uplifting comedy exposes the cultural curios- ity between rural Israelis and a musical band of Egyptian policemen, who mistakenly end up in a provincial town somewhere in the Negev Desert. The film shows the common humanity among the characters.