The Arab Film Festival: Best of Shorts Program

  • Wednesday, May 17, 2017 / 7:00 PM - 9:30 PM (PDT)
  • Pollock Theater
  • Screening Format: Blu-Ray (1 Hour and 30 Minutes)
  • With Serge Bakalian and Deana Nassar

This event featured a selection of six outstanding short films from the Arab Film Festival. The 90-minute program showcases the emergent voices and diverse approaches in cinematic storytelling by contemporary Arab filmmakers and artists.

(Palestine, France, Germany, 2015)
TRANSIT GAME (USA, Lebanon, Canada, 2014)

SILENCE (Lebanon, 2016)
(USA, Jordan, Lebanon, 2011)
(Canada, 2009)

We were joined for a post-screening discussion and Q&A with the Director of the Arab Film & Media Institute Serge Bakalian and the Artistic Director and Festival Programmer of the Arab Film Festival Deana Nassar. The discussion was moderated by Mona Damluji (Film and Media Studies, UCSB).


Director of the Arab Film & Media Institute Serge Bakalian

Serge Bakalian is a San Francisco-based filmmaker and activist. He was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon and immigrated to the Los Angeles area in 1986. Prior to joining the AFF, Serge helped produce theatrical works dedicated to exploring Middle Eastern cultures and identities. In 2011, he completed the award-winning Default: The Student Loan Documentary, which was released on PBS and over 140 broadcasting stations around the country. In late 2012 he started production on his current film, Way of the Warthogs, which was awarded a FilmHouse residency by the SF Film Society and SF Film Commission.  In his career and activism Serge has worked on a wide range of issues and campaigns, from defending the biodiversity of the world’s food supply against genetic modification to the rights of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza.

Artistic Director and Festival Programmer of the Arab Film Festival Deana Nassar

Deana Nassar began her legal career clerking with the Entertainment and Intellectual Property group in the legal department of the national headquarters of the AARP. Subsequently, she moved to New York city to pursue her career as an entertainment attorney where she worked as a contract lawyer negotiating primarily on behalf of record labels and producers.  In 2008, Deana was awarded the U.N. Food Law Fellowship, which afforded her the opportunity to work in the legal department of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization in Rome, Italy. During her fellowship she focused her research on water law and the role of micro-finance in agricultural sustainability in rural Africa. Deana returned to the United States to pursue her career in entertainment working closely with Musicians and record producers and broadening her base to include writers, directors and film/television producers. She joined the Muslim Public Affairs Council in 2010 as the Hollywood Liaison. In her capacity as the Hollywood Liaison she engaged decision makers in the entertainment industry in an effort to promote and foster nuanced and accurate depictions of Muslim Americans and Muslim societies.

Moderator Mona Damluji

Mona Damluji is Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research and teaching examine intersections of cultural studies of energy, urbanism, film and media in the Middle East region. Recently, she curated the traveling exhibition Arab Comics: 90 Years of Popular Visual Culture and the UC Berkeley exhibition of Open Shutters Iraq. Mona has served as the educational outreach director of the Arab Film Festival in San Francisco, and curates film programs on campuses around the country. Her publications appear in the Journal of Urban History, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Subterranean Estates: the Life Worlds of Oil and Gas, Ars Orientalis and on Jadaliyya Cities and Middle East Institute Insights. Mona’s exhibition and book reviews can be found on Jadaliyya, AMCA International and in the International Journal of Islamic Architecture.

This event is sponsored by the Carsey-Wolf Center, the MultiCultural Center and the Center for Middle East Studies.