The Metro: Annual Arab Film Festival in Dearborn showcasing Arab voices

Dave Serio of the Arab American National Museum, joined the show to discuss the meaning and purpose behind the film festival and what attendees can expect.

The Arab American National Museum is hosting its annual Arab Film Festival, May 15-19, 2024.

The Arab American National Museum is hosting its annual Arab Film Festival, May 15-19, 2024.

Metro Detroit is known for having a unique and growing Arab community. That uniqueness shows through the people of Arab lineage from across the Middle East, including Syria, Palestine, Yemen and Lebanon.   

While the Arab community is often celebrated in the Metro area, Arab people have frequently been captured in a negative light. The Arab Film Festival, hosted by the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, has been trying to change the narrative. 

Dave Serio, curator of education for the Arab American National Museum, joined The Metro on Wednesday to discuss the meaning and purpose behind the Arab Film Festival and what people can expect for this weekend.

The film festival began Wednesday and continues through Sunday. Attendees can join either online or in-person. 

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The annual event first began when the museum opened its doors in 2005. After the pandemic, the festival began screenings online to reach more people and meet their needs. Now, the festival attracts and showcases Arab voices nationwide.

“Especially back in the day, and it’s still today, of course, we see so many folks trying to tell our story for us,” Serio said. “People trying to paint us in a certain light, whether it’s, you know, intentionally negative, or maybe just in an ignorant way, perhaps. And so our goal really is to give a space for Arab and Arab American filmmakers to tell their story.”

Several film genres will be highlighted throughout the festival, including dramas, comedies, and documentaries. 

While the festival will debut many emerging film artists, this celebration will also feature Arab food and hospitality. Movies and food are the way to people’s hearts in the U.S., and the Arab American National Museum wanted to teach Arab culture in a fun and welcoming way.

Serio explained, “And so we try to meet people where they are like, yeah, films are great, why don’t you also try to incorporate some Arab American or other, you know, cultural, ethnic films. And so that’s kind of where we’re at, where we’re able to incorporate and give voice to the Arab American stories that exist.”

The primary goal of the festival is to give Arabs control of telling stories from their point-of-view in a creative outlet and to join the community with uplifting storytelling.

Serio said, “One of the things I think that we try to do first and foremost is always uplift and tell our story, be honest and open about our community, telling that narrative in a variety of ways, of course, you know, including film.”

More headlines from The Metro on May 15, 2024:

  • Prom season is underway. In Detroit, it’s done in a big way, with colorful dresses and suits, car and limo rentals, and photos. The traditions are displayed in Detroit Director Sean Whitfield’s film The Send Off.” He joins the show to discuss the movie, now streaming on Tubi.
  • Cicadas are coming back. The noisy creatures are about to emerge across the U.S., including in southern parts of Michigan. And while they’re out, the bugs will be feasted on by birds and small mammals. But some chefs are creating cicada dishes specifically for humans. NPR’s Leila Fadel spoke with Chef Joseph Yoon to learn more. 
  • Author and journalist A.J. Jacobs joined WDET’s Stephen Henderson on Created Equal this week to talk about the joys and hardships of his experiment living by the Constitution for his new book, “The Year of Living Constitutionally.”
  • Detroit ranked sixth in the nation for road rage shootings, according to reporting from The Trace. And the trend nationwide isn’t promising, either. Road rage shootings have jumped 450% in the past decade. Virginia Tech Psychology Professor Scott Geller joined the show to discuss what drives this dangerous behavior.
  • Fugitive dust is pollution that comes from commercial sites, often a side effect of construction and moving heavy material around. The city of Dearborn recently passed a fugitive dust ordinance to limit pollution and now, the city of Detroit wants to do the same. The proposed ordinance passed out of the Health and Safety Committee Monday after a public hearing. At-large Council Member Mary Waters joins the show to discuss what the new ordinance will do to combat dust.

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