Tarab NYC Presents Queer Arab Films at the Brooklyn Museum

 Registration is closed for this event
Target First Saturday: Pride Month/Queer Continuums


Enjoy new releases by queer Arab filmmakers during Ramadan and Pride, including the Brooklyn premiere of Breaking Fast (Mike Mosallam, 2015, 18 min.). Tarab NYC hosts a conversation with filmmakers on gender, homophobia, Islamophobia, and Orientalism across Arab art-making communities and identities. 330 free tickets in Auditorium line at Admissions at 4:30 pm. First Come First Serve

Members that register on our site can have their tickets reserved and skip the line - be sure to arrive by 5pm. 

More information via facebook and the Brooklyn Museum website.


DisOrient will remix key film selections - ranging across award-winning short film, art-house visual pieces, and snippets from popular Arab movies - to discuss the manifold ways that queering Arab bodies stretch across spaces of visual representation.

The screening falls during the beginning of the month of Ramadan, one of the holiest times in the Islamic calendar and, oftentimes, also a visually festive time in Arab and/or Arabic-speaking spaces, secular and religious alike. It also falls during Pride month, thereby ushering a time of potential warmth, celebration, liminality, and strangeness for queer Arabs.

The films in this visual-participatory event are mostly directed by queer-Arab filmmakers as part of a  the talk-back, where panelists and audience will hash out their responses and reflections across many lenses and topics, such as feminism, orientalism, language, gender, islamophobia, anti-blackness, aesthetics, and conviviality across communities and identities where Arab artmaking happens.


The Brooklyn Museum in collaboration with Tarab NYC present DisOrient: A Day of Queer-Arab Film and Discussion, a celebration of films that give us the opportunity to learn about some of the realities face by Middle Eastern people. They may be beautiful, harsh, political, apolitical, average, extraordinary, but they are stories of their own and definitely not monolithic.

The political context and absence of Queer-Arab voices in film necessitates a space where these experiences and creative talents are promoted. This celebration of Queer-Arab talent resists imperialist and colonial pink-washing Campaigns and the problematic assumption that LGBTQ indentifying people do not exist in the Middle East.

The representation of Arabs and Middle Eastern people and cultures in media are most often presented through an Orientalist lense. "Orientalism”, a term coined by the groundbreaking Edward Said, is a harmful way of creating a racist dichotomy which involves seeing Middle Eastern cultures as exotic, backward, uncivilized, and even threatening. Such stereotypes of the Middle East and Middle Eastern people are part of a legacy of stigma and “Othering” that many non-European groups have been and are being subject to. 

This dangerously recurring pattern of hateful stereotypes robs an entire people of their humanity and has been used to permeate our understanding of Middle Eastern people in attempt to uphold foreign policy, war, air raids, ground invasions, sanctions, torture, detention, and now, travel bans.

This is a blueprint for dehumanization that is also applied to justify legislation and policies that oppress the rest of us; Latin, Queer, Middle Eastern, Muslim, Black.  As artists, consumers of art and media, we need to be critical of our sources of influence, not only because we live in such a politically eruptive era but also because these communities have a right to be seen as human beings all the time.

Films & Artists

Southwest of Salem (trailer)
Director: Deborah Esquenazi  (produced by Sam Tabet)
USA, 2016, 91 min

Deborah Esquenazi’s riveting documentary explores the imprisonment of four Latina lesbians who were wrongly convicted of child molestation in 1994, thanks to a potent combination of homophobia, misogyny and racism. In her quest for exoneration, Esquenazi unearths surprising details during interviews with the women and their accusers. Our guest presenters tonight are F2L, community activists who fight for queer and trans New Yorkers of color being targeted by the criminal justice system. For F2L, SOS sharply captures how “the media works alongside a racist colonial court system that aims to incarcerate criminalized queer and trans people of color.” Join us for an important conversation. Follow this film at http://www.southwestofsalem.com

Sam Tabet is a Brooklyn based creative producer. Sam produced a short film called Love The Sinner (dir. Jessica Devaney and Geeta Gandbhir, producer Patricia Benabe) which had its world premiere at Tribeca 2017. Sam produced Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four (Tribeca Film Festival, HotDocs, IDFA 2016) which had its television premiere on Investigation Discovery to one million viewers this fall. The critically acclaimed film helped exonerate the 'San Antonio Four’. Sam also executive produced the narrative short Forever, Ally (Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2015, BRIC FLIX). They previously worked and volunteered at NewFest and American Documentary, POV, and holds a B.A. from Connecticut College in Film and Gender studies. Sam is a founder of the Queer Producers Collective, a Firelight Impact Producer fellow, and a Impact Partners Producing fellow.

A Demonstration
Director: Nadia Awad
Palestine, 2009, 5 min

A Demonstration was produced during a vigil in September 2009 to commemorate two LGBT youth who were shot at gay center in Tel Aviv. The video raises questions about nationalism, modes of commemoration, and citizenship. In tandem with this, more current work will be presented; a set of collages that Nadia has created as an outgrowth of my documentary work. The collages comprise photos Nadia collected or shot in the past 10 years that constitute a unique political archive. Access this film at https://vimeo.com/99671737

Nadia Awad is a visual artist and filmmaker. Selected exhibitions include: Iraqi Civilian Memorial Exhibition, Elizabeth Foundation Gallery, New York, NY (2011), works, San Jose, CA, (2011), and Sheppard Fine Arts Gallery, Reno, Nevada (2010); Objects of War Exhibition, flux factory, Queens, New York (2011). She curated a series of videos on new Palestinian video work and co-authored an article for Camera Obscura, “Queer/Palestinian: A Critical Conversation on Palestinian Queer and Women’s Cinema.” She has given talks on film production and social change at CUNY, Rutgers University, Seattle University Law School, NYU, and Yale University.  She received a BA in Cultural Studies from York University. Nadia Awad will be a recipient of a 2015-2016 New York Community Trust Van Lier Fellowship as part of her Smack Mellon Studio Program residency.

Deseos (excerpt)
Director: Carlos Motta
Writer: Maya Mikdashi
France, 2015, 30 min

“Deseos / رغبات” is a film and research project that is grounded in transnational and interdisciplinary histories that may or may not have happened. Our stories emerge from archives and fantasy, history and fiction, the 18th century, 19th century, and 21st centuries, theory and in feeling, and from Beirut and Bogota. The film was written and conceived by myself and by Carlos Motta, who also directed the film. Access this film at goo.gl/cr5nCU

Notes on the War (excerpt)
Director: Maya Mikdashi
Lebanon, 2006, 41 min

Notes on The War highlights the voices of Lebanese citizens who were displaced during the 2006 war. It addresses the debates within Lebanese society that were sparked by the conflict, the Lebanese government response to the crisis, the role of Hizbollah and how the U.S. attempted to define the Israeli attack as part of their “war on terrorism”. Access this film at https://vimeo.com/178807976

Maya Mikdashi received her Ph.D. from Columbia University's Department of Anthropology. Her dissertation, entitled "Sex, Secularism and Sectarianism: Practicing Citizenship in Contemporary Lebanon," is an ethnography of the Lebanese legal system and of the entanglements between gender, sex, and sectarianism. She is also Co-Founder/Editor of Jadaliyya Ezine and Co-Director of the documentary film About Baghdad. She works at the intersection of legal anthropology, feminism, queer theory, and theories of secularism and religion.

Anya Kneez – A Queen in Beirut 
Director: Mohamad Abdouni
Lebanon, 2017, 11 min

Anya Kneez left Brooklyn in the summer of 2012 after 23 years in America. Anya moved back home to live with her parents in Beirut, Lebanon. Five years later, at 28, Anya still struggles with the values of a Middle Eastern society that remains unable to accommodate her lifestyle. The short form documentary offers a glimpse into the life of the boy who brought Drag from the slums of Brooklyn to the clubs of Beirut.

Mohamad Abdouni is a multidisciplinary visual artist, photographer, filmmaker and curator based in Beirut. He founded F/I/M2/P magazine back in 2012, a print publication for Arts & Culture in the Middle East, and is currently launching a new publishing platform under the name ‘Cold Cuts’ which is set to roll out in the coming months.

Mohamad has worked with the likes of Vice UK and L’officiel, whereas his personal projects tend to focus on the untold stories of Beirut and the rising queer culture of the city through several documentaries and photo stories.

Whether in still photography or moving images, Abdouni seamlessly shifts between raw aesthetics and overly romanticised visuals, with music always playing a primordial part in every project

Breaking Fast
Director: Mike Mosallam
USA, 2015, 18 min
(Interview with Mike Mosallam, 5 min)

On the holiest night during the month of Ramadan, Mo, a practicing Muslim reluctantly attends his best friend’s birthday party, where he unexpectedly meets Kal, the quintessential All-American, who catches him by surprise with each twist and turn through the streets of Los Angeles.

Website & Facebook

Mike Mosallam has produced, written, and directed in the film, TV, and live theatre space for more than a decade. Mosallam is most notably known for creating the TLC series, All-American- Muslim. His short film, Breaking Fast, was screened at the Court Métrage at the Cannes Film Festival as well as numerous other festivals nationally and internationally. His short film, CRIBZ: Arab-American Style, has over 5 million views on YouTube. His production company, Mike Mosallam Productions is developing a feature version of Breaking Fast as well as an untitled Muslim Cosby Show series for television. His work has been lauded in the New York Times, Time Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, and was nominated for an NAACP Award.

June 3rd, 2017 4:30 PM   through   7:00 PM

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