I’m going to miss the Cleveland screening but my Executive Producer and founder of Kartemquin films will be there. This will also be part of the Film Forum on March 27, 2014 at 6:30 PM
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After the events of 9/11 there was a backlash against Arabs in the United States. Some citizens ignorantly connected all Middle Eastern people with the acts of terrorism that were committed against our country. As Iraqi-American filmmaker Usama Alshaibi displays in AMERICAN ARAB, it was an extremely difficult time. It’s been more than a decade since the attacks, but the fear and racism towards Arabs still exists. During the 2008 election, John McCain was famously asked by a supporter about Barack Obama being an Arab. McCain nervously replied: “No, ma’am, he’s a decent family man.” To Arabs, his response seemed to imply that they’re incapable of decency. The film also examines how they’re negatively portrayed in the entertainment industry, something that had a profound impact on a young Alshaibi. Throughout the documentary he interviews others about their experiences, touching on the complexities of being stuck in the middle of two very different cultures. This excellent sociological study breaks down the barriers, providing a deeply personal and affecting look at life from the unique perspective of Arab Americans. —E.F. (Cleveland International Film Festival)