I am passionate about documentary films, especially those that cover topics about international development, human rights, social justice, history, immigration, identity, health, education and holistic medicine.
Watching documentaries for me is like traveling around the world and entering people’s living rooms and lives while sitting on my sofa. I have a special interest in stories filmed around the globe in different languages that deal with complex identity fusion for people who straddle and belong to different worlds and cultures.
After moving to America, I discovered a TV channel that showed films about American history and culture. I hadn’t heard of PBS or of Ken Burns before that. Over the years, I fell in love with these types of documentary films, a whole field to itself. I became an avid documentary film consumer, watching so many on so many topics, from cinema verite to essay films, staying up late at night and learning about the world and the issues these films dealt with. This inspired me to pursue a graduate degree in Film and Video Producing.
I threw myself into this fascinating field: coordinated the Women in Film and Video Documentary Roundtables, joined D-word, attended multiple documentary film festivals, screenings, and participated in Docs in Progress discussions. I love meeting other documentary filmmakers and learning about the making of their films. I wonder if my passion is making films or rather working with other filmmakers and helping them make theirs, since I have a cheerleading, coaching side to me that likes to promote and support others.
Speaking of identity, while working on my degree, I spent a couple of years researching and interviewing descendants of Arab Americans. I am fascinated by the immigrant experience; learning about other immigrants helped me understand the process of my own immigration, and integration into American society as a new American.
My father instilled in me a sense of global justice and anti-colonialism or imperialism. Together, week after week, we were mesmerized by the TV series ROOTS and very affected by it. So I find myself attracted by stories of self determination and I connect emotionally with the civil rights movement and other movements of independence around the world, as well as any stories of self expression, feminism, liberation, independence, and fighting all forms of oppression and censorship.
My fascination with African and post-colonial stories was also reinforced in my teen years. At the French Lycee I attended, we had a French teacher who had lived in West Africa and taught the history, geography and literature curriculum in a critical manner, exposing us to Francophone African literature.
Feelings of familiarity and identification were stirred during my two visits to Haiti in 2006 as an election observer. The landscape of mountains, seas, serpentine roads is very similar to Lebanon, and both countries have a bizarre mix of the French influence on language and culture, along with an anti-colonialist, anti-imperialist sensibility. It was amazing to speak French with Haitians and connect emotionally to their suffering and share their anger over injustice. Haiti felt like a lost home, a place I didn’t know existed. As they say, Haiti is where you experience the best and the worst days of your life. From that visit was born a collegial relationship with Haitian filmmaker Mario DeLatour.