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A chat with the Arab Film Festival Curator

Posted at 7:14 PM on March 28, 2007 by Euan Kerr

One of the surprising things about Mizna's Twin Cities Arab Film Festival is how it is looking for ways to attract more arabs, and people of arab descent.

Festival Curator Mohannad Ghawanmeh, (pronounced 'moh-HAN-ned go-HUN-meh') says audiences at the first three festivals have been primarily European, but he hopes the festival's second year at the Heights Theater near the heart of the Twin Cities arab community may help draw people in.

"We thought by approximating the festival to where they live and work we might be able to persuade some of the folks who are just driving down central avenue and just happen to see on the Heights marquee "Arab Film Festival" and hopefully get curious," he says.

The festival draws films from around the world this year. Opening night Thursday will be Imad and Swell Noury's "Heaven's Doors" which Ghawanmeh describes as likely to appeal to fans of Iniarritu's "Babel" and "Amores Perros." "Sweetland" director Ali Selim will introduce the screening.

Ghawanmeh also points to the documentary offerings on Friday as a highlight. The festival will screen "Hothouse" which examines the plight of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, then "The Devil Came on Horseback" about the genocide in Darfur. Twin Cities native Annie Sundberg who directed "Devil" will be available for a discussion afterwards.

You can hear my conversation with Mohannad Ghawanmeh here and read the festival schedule here.

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