Arabic Film Festival Brings New Perspectives to 5Cs

By Megan Petersen '15, Copy Editor

Now in its fourth week, the Arabic Film Festival, hosted by the Arabic Club, is bringing diversity and fresh viewpoints to Claremont. Kicking off on Feb. 10 with the Lebanese film Caramel, the festival has since shown Veiled Voices, a documentary about three female Muslim leaders in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon and My Country, My Country, a documentary about Iraq in 2005.

Arabic Club Co-President Sophie Souma (’14) said between 10 and 15 students, faculty and community members have turned out each week for the festival. She said that while many are Arabic or Middle Eastern Studies students, students from Gender and Women’s Studies classes and other groups have also come to watch the films, which are all in Arabic with English subtitles. Souma said she expects more people to come see Paradise Now, this week’s featured film, because it is more well- known than others on the list.

The festival, aside from showing interesting films, also works to present a different perspective than Americans may be used to. My Country, My Country, last week’s film, presented perspectives of American and Australian soldiers in Iraq as well as perspectives from people and news stations in Iraq leading up to the country’s first elections following its invasion.

Pinar Tremblay, a visiting instructor in Government at Claremont McKenna College, led the discussion following My Country, My Country. Tremblay believes that this film’s perspective is important for Claremont students and the wider community to hear. She noted that America has been involved with Iraq for more than 20 years, making Iraq, and the documentary My Country, My Country, relevant points of interest for Americans. While she said she didn’t agree with everything the documentary had to say, she still felt that it was important that Iraq’s voice is also heard.

Souma and her fellow Arabic Club Co-President, Kelsey Cherland (CMC ’14), also feel that the Arabic Film Festival is a good way to work against prejudice. “The festival is a good way to break down the stereotypes about people of Arab descent,” Souma said.

Cherland agreed. “While the films may be in the Arabic language, the lessons and themes of the films transcend language barriers to confront cultural misconceptions.”

Films are presented each Friday at 7 p.m. in the Humanities Auditorium at Scripps College, followed by a professor-led discussion. Tomorrow, March 2, the Arabic Club will show Paradise Now, a Golden Globe-winning film about two Palestinian friends recruited to be suicide bombers. Snacks are provided.