Price: $350.00

    Code: 2477

    Directed by Usama Alshaibi
    2013, 60 minutes
    Purchase: $350 | Classroom rental: $125

    A provocative look at the complexities of Arab identity in post 9/11 America, American Arab interweaves filmmaker Usama Alshaibi's own story, and that of his family, as well as other Arab Americans to thoughtfully explore the values, passions, hopes and perceptions of his community, from inside and out.

    During the 2008 presidential campaign, a woman at a John McCain rally stated she wasn't voting for Barack Obama because he was an Arab. McCain bluntly replied: ""No, ma'am, he's a decent family man, a citizen." McCain's response was widely praised. But - was it no longer possible for an Arab to be a decent person? A citizen?

    Born in Iraq and raised in the United States, filmmaker Usama Alshaibi sets out to examine this stereotype and how it came to be. He reaches out to friends and kindred spirits: Amal Abusumayah, a young woman born in America, who wears a headscarf and tells how she was the victim of a hate crime shortly after the 2009 Ft. Hood shootings; Marwan Kamel, a musician in the Muslim punk subculture known as Taqwacore; the Jassar family, who have recently come to the United States to escape kidnapping and threats of murder in Iraq.

    Usama's own personal American story propels the narrative. He recounts how his adult years have been shaped by an altered perception of his identity. As a child, when relations between the US and Iraq were amicable, there was a fascination others expressed in his culture. As an adult, it was replaced with suspicion and even violence. During the course of filming this documentary, Usama himself became a victim of a racially motivated attack.

    American Arab is a timely and important film that emphasizes the diverse and complex array of voices and cultures within the Arab-American community. It asks what it means to be an Arab today. To what degree is one's identity determined by one's birth country. And to what extent do we identify with the nation in which we live. By shedding light and giving clarity to these multifaceted issues, American Arab profoundly embraces and illuminates the Arab-American experience.

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    * Official Selection, Amsterdam Documentary Film Festival
    * Official Selection, Stockholm Film Festival
    * Official Selection, Chicago Underground Film Festival
    * Official Geneva Film Festival
    * Islamic Society of North America Film Festival
    * Official Selection, San Francisco Arab Film Festival


    "News footage of anti-Arab demonstrations and clips from such films as Total Recall , Back to the Future, and Delta Force vividly show how public perception can be shaped by news reports, movies, and documentaries. This perceptive video tells a universal story about immigrants’ struggles to assimilate and seek the often elusive promise of the American dream. A potent discussion starter ." — Booklist

    "It's giving voice to people who have been marginalized—and when they are presented in mainstream American media, it's rarely from their perspective... At the same time, the movie doesn't feel confrontational. It feels like the start of a conversation, rather than a provocation." — Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader

    "Recommended." — Educational Media Reviews Online

    "Alshaibi presents a very personal and exposed story of identity without finding a straightforward answer of what being a Muslim, an American, an Arab, or anything else really means to oneself or to those around that person. He is able to leave the viewer feeling untroubled by this ambiguity, however, and I think that is a testament to his talent and this work." — Anne Shelley, Illinois State University

    "Probes what you might call the Arab-American dilemma. Alshaibi's family is smart and complicated, and you immediately have an emotional connection to these people." — Chicago Tribune