American Arab is playing Sunday, April 6 at the Chicago Underground Film Festival and I’m in town promoting the film and getting ready for our big premiere. The film has been featured in the Chicago Reader, The Chicago Sun Time and the Chicago Tribune. Here are some links and quotes.
“It’s our responsibility to change the visual landscape. The people who are making these Hollywood films have a cartoonish conception of what a Puerto Rican is and what an Arab is. They put the simplest two-dimensional character on the screen, another movie copies it, and they become cookie cutters. We have to beat that down and mock it for what it is. Like, can you imagine if someone did blackface now? They would be laughed at. But at one point that was an acceptable form of entertainment. Hollywood uses brown-face now—Mexicans and Latin Americans are consistently used to play Arabs in Hollywood. Our responsibility is to get in there, talk about this stuff, and change what beauty is—and change what a leading character can be. What it means to be American needs to be reexamined.”
Two film festivals, two indie filmmakers, one discussion on filmmaking ethics, Usama Alshaibi and Carlos Jiménez Flores have different filmmaking styles, but they take a similar stance on mainstream depictions of race and ethnicity in popular media. Chicago Reader, April, 2014.