Storytelling for the Screen: The Citizen

  • Tuesday, May 14, 2024 / 7:00 PM - 9:30 PM (PDT)
  • Pollock Theater
  • Screening Format: 4K digital projection (99 Minutes)
  • With William Atherton (actor), Rizwan Manji (actor), and Sam Kadi (writer/director)
  • Starring: Khaled Nabawy, Agnes Bruckner, William Atherton, and Cary Elwes

Inspired by true events, Sam Kadi’s award-winning feature debut The Citizen (2013) provides a gripping commentary on the sociopolitical landscape of the United States and the everyday struggles of Arab-Americans after 9/11. The film follows Ibrahim Jarrah, an Arab immigrant who wins the green card lottery and arrives in New York City on September 10, 2001 seeking refuge, opportunity, and a better life. The next morning, however, everything changes. In the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, Ibrahim confronts an America transformed, encountering virulent discrimination, prejudice, and xenophobia. Even in the midst of these struggles, however, Ibrahim manages to forge important bonds with his new neighbors, finding a community that reshapes his visions of the American Dream.

Even a decade on from its release, The Citizen’s examination of the immigrant experience in a post-9/11 world and its engagement with questions of racial identity, belonging, and community in the worst of times remains prescient.

Actor William Atherton, actor Rizwan Manji, and writer/director/producer Sam Kadi joined moderator Juan Campo (Religious Studies, UCSB) for a post-screening discussion of The Citizen.

This event is free but a reservation is recommended in order to guarantee a seat.


Actor William Atherton appears against a neutral grey background. He is smiling and wearing a black open-collared shirt.

Actor William Atherton

William Atherton’s career has spanned motion pictures, Broadway, and television. He first achieved international recognition as the leading man in Steven Spielberg’s debut feature The Sugarland Express, and next starred in John Schlesinger’s The Day of the Locust, Robert Wise’s The Hindenburg, and Richard Brooks’ Looking for Mr. Goodbar. He is known worldwide for what have become his signature film characters: the television reporter Dick Thornburg in the action blockbusters Die Hard and Die Hard 2, the EPA official Walter Peck in Ghostbusters, the conniving Professor Jerry Hathaway in Real Genius, and mad scientist Dr. Noah Faulkner in Bio-Dome.

On television, he has starred in numerous miniseries including the classic western Centennial, and headed the all-star cast in Malibu. On the stage, Atherton has created roles on and off Broadway for many of America’s leading playwrights, including the title role in Joseph Papp’s original production of David Rabe’s The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel, the role of Ronnie in John Guare’s The House of Blue Leaves, and Bing Ring Ling in his Rich and Famous. He also starred in the Broadway premiere of Arthur Miller’s The American Clock and the Tony-winning revival of Herman Wouk’s The Caine Mutiny Court Martial. For his work on the stage, he has received the Drama Desk Award, the Outer Circle Critics Award, the Theatre World Award, and nominations for an Obie and Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Award.

Head shot of filmmaker Sam Kadi. The image depicts a man wearing glasses and a news cap. He is smiling towards the camera.

Director Sam Kadi

Sam Kadi is an award-winning filmmaker based in Santa Barbara, California. Sam is the director, writer and producer of the critically acclaimed feature drama The Citizen, which won multiple awards and was named one of the “Best 10 Films of 2013” by Sam’s recent warzone documentary Little Gandhi was an Official Selection for Best Foreign Language Film for the 2017 Oscars. He is the producer of the 2023 Oscar-shortlisted feature animation film Lamya’s Poem, which premiered at the 60th Annecy Film Festival (France). He has been recognized by the prestigious Cinema For Peace organization for raising awareness of human rights issues through film, and was asked to speak on the same subject before the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Netherlands. Sam is a TEDx speaker, a juror for multiple film festivals, a member of the International Animated Film Society (ASIFA-Hollywood), and a member of the Directors Guild of America (DGA), where he serves on the Guild Asian American committee.

Actor Rizwan Manji stands against a neutral beige background. He is smiling and is wearing a blue sweater and a white collared shirt.

Actor Rizwan Manji

Rizwan Manji received a Best Guest Actor nomination at the 2021 Canadian Screen Awards for his portrayal of Ray Butani, Schitt’s Creek jack-of-all-trades. The critically-acclaimed CBC/Pop TV show dominated the 2020 Emmy race, winning Best Comedy. Manji is perhaps best known for playing Rajiv Gidwani, the hysterically officious, scheming assistant manager of a call center in the NBC comedy Outsourced. He appeared in Sony Affirm’s Journey to Bethlehem, a live-action Christmas musical adventure, starring Antonio Banderas as King Herod with Manji as Gaspar, one of the three wise men. He can also be seen in Mustache, starring Atharva Verma and Alicia Silverstone. This coming-of-age movie was written and directed by Imran J. Khan and won the 2023 Audience Award in the Narrative Feature competition at SXSW. His other film and television credits include The Magicians, Mr. Robot, Arrested Development, Charlie Wilson’s War, The Tiger Hunter, and Paterson.

juan campo

Moderator Juan Campo (Religious Studies, UCSB)

Juan Campo specializes in the comparative study of Islam and religious spatialities, particularly in the Middle East and South Asia. Professor Campo’s book The Other Sides of Paradise: Explorations in the Religious Meanings of Domestic Space in Islam won the American Academy of Religion’s Award for Excellence in 1991. His book The Encyclopedia of Islam (Facts on File, 2009, 2d ed. 2016), a one-volume reference work for students and the reading public, received a “Best of Reference” award from the New York Public Library in 2010. He is currently working on a project entitled Pilgrimages in Modernity—a comparative study of Muslim, Hindu, and Christian mass pilgrimages in the modern world.

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

Storytelling for the Screen

Since their emergence, cinema and television have been in a state of constant technological and industrial flux. But even as our ways of distributing and accessing moving images have changed, and even as tastes and styles continue shifting with the times, our passion for compelling onscreen storytelling persists. At the Carsey-Wolf Center, we are committed to fostering a nuanced understanding of cinematic and televisual storytelling across genres, formats, styles, and historical periods. To this end, we sponsor a wide range of events, programs, and workshops designed to cultivate a new generation of media storytellers, and to help audiences better understand the evolving role of narrative across diverse media forms.