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New York Arab Festival 2024 Shorts Program

Sunday, Apr 14, 2024 at 1:30 pm

Location: Bartos Screening Room

This afternoon of contemporary Arab cinema is presented at MoMI as part of the 2024 New York Arab Festival, celebrating Arab American Heritage Month. From magical realism to sharp critiques of the present, these short films invite us into the alluring world of contemporary Arab cinema, an industry as diverse as the 22 countries that make up the Arab world. The program showcases both established and alternative voices, showing the excitement and diversity of Arab contemporary cinema. Presenting films by Randa Ali, Balqis Alrashed, Dibo, Farahat Khalil, and Firas Khoury, the festival journeys among Palestine, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and fictitious lands. 

The afternoon of short film screenings will be followed by a panel, Canon Fodder: Reframing Arab Representation in Cinema Today, addressing politically problematic and racist depictions of Arabs in Western cinema and the aspirations and expectations of Arab and Arab American actors in the industry.  

Part One 

Maradona’s Legs
Dir. Firas Khoury. 2019, 23 mins. Palestine. During the 1990 World Cup, two young Palestinian football fans set out to find the missing piece of their sticker album and win an Atari. This enchanting short film won a well-deserved first prize at the Fabrique du Cinéma Awards. 

Dir. Dibo. 2024, 16 mins. Egypt. Amaal means “hope” in Arabic. At a time far in the future, for anyone to have a dream or hope achieved, they must apply to the Holding Company for Dreams Fulfillment. While this company was started in good faith to help people reach their goals, things have taken a different turn.  

Ministry of Loneliness
Dir. Randa Ali. 2024, 23 mins. U.S. Bureaucrats at the Ministry of Loneliness spend their days answering calls from citizens suffering from isolation


Part Two 

Chapter Spring 
Dir. Farahat Khalil. 2013, 3 mins. Egypt/Germany. Between the poetic image of the Arab Spring and the indecisive reality of today, Chapter Spring attempts to explore the conflicting narratives of the Egyptian revolution eight years after the 2011 uprising that took over Tahrir Square. 

Wally Gone Missing 
Dir. Farahat Khalil. 2013, 8 mins. Egypt/Germany. The setup is almost theatrical, and we all play along—Wally plays along. Office, 2.45 p.m., an interview. Back and forth, small wins, big concessions, and underneath that glossy surface, the unsettling feeling grows and grows that we are all simply pretending—in this office, in this setup.  

Salt Kills
Dir. Balqis Alrashed. 2017, 26 mins. Saudi Arabia/U.S. Part of an ongoing film and performance series titled State of Play, Salt Kills was filmed on location in Salt Lake City. It features a fully veiled central character dancing with a hoop to live music by the doom metal band Subrosa.  Sunset provides a beautiful backdrop for identities to negotiate, emerge, and disappear. 

Canon Fodder: Reframing Arab Representation in Cinema Today 

This panel discussion will concern the politically problematic representation of Arab characters in Western cinema and television. Whether lewd sheiks, evil terrorists, brazen belly dancers, or mystical simpletons, the characters created for Arab actors predominantly fall within limiting and misinforming tropes. While Arab contemporary cinema is a massive and diverse industry, representation within Arab cinema vastly differs from representation of Arabs in Western cinema. And in times of war—especially in today’s unfolding genocide and humanitarian crisis in Gaza—the gap between how Arabs depict themselves and how they are depicted abroad grows wider still.  

How do Arab actors see their futures in the international film and television industries? And how do they bring nuance to their portrayals, navigating studio expectations and their lived experience? Join us for a panel featuring young and accomplished Arab and Arab American actors and filmmakers sharing stories of resilience and aspirations for a better future for Arab talent. The panel, moderated by Cindy Sibilsky, New York Arab Festival’s founding producer, will feature Karma Alami, Amr Kotb, and Danya El Kurd. 

About the Panelists: 

Amr Kotb
Active in television, film, theater, and commercials, Egyptian-American New York–based Amr Kotb is a skilled improvisation-based actor, often drawn to dry and dark comedy and social satire. Known for The Dotted Line and Long Night in Egypt, among other works, he is also the author and director of a series of satirical shorts, including Nigel Goes West. 

Karma Alami 
Palestinian-Syrian artist and theater-maker born in Amman, Jordan, and raised in Bahrain, Karma Alami Currently studies at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting.  She has a background in opera singing and classical performance and has competed internationally before moving to New York City. Karma is dedicated to spotlighting MENA and Arab voices, specifically Palestinian and Syrian causes. Her purpose is to give the voiceless a voice and encourage more MENA and Arab representation in all artistic spaces. 

Danya El Kurd 
A first-generation American-Palestinian-Lebanese actress who began her career onstage in California, where she was born and raised. Danya’s credits include originating the role of Player One in Leila’s Quest for Flight, a touring Palestinian children’s show with Golden Thread Theatre Productions, the first American theater company devoted to the Middle East. Danya El Kurd has played Jan in Grease, Rusty in Footloose, and various other characters in classic musicals. Other than singing and performing in Arabic and English, Danya El Kurd will always be the first to lead a dabke circle on the dance floor.

Cindy Sibilsky
New York Arab Festival’s senior founding producer, Cindy Sibilsky is an international producer, culture and arts writer, and publicist. With projects between the U.S., Europe, Japan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, Cindy Sibilsky’s work focuses on creative and meaningful intercultural dialogue.   

All New York Arab Festival programs this year received no external funding or sponsorship. The 2024 festival is produced by its two founding companies, HaRaKa Platform and Wizara.   


Tickets: $15 / $11 senior and students / $9 youth (ages 3–17) / discounted for MoMI members ($7–$11). There is a $1.50 transaction fee per ticket for all online purchases. The cost of admission may be applied toward a same-day purchase of a membership. 

Order tickets. Please pick up tickets at the Museum’s admissions desk upon arrival. All seating is general admission. 

About the New York Arab Festival: 

New York Arab Festival (NYAF) was established in 2022 to commemorate Arab American Heritage Month and fight the erasure of Arab and Arab American identities from New York City, a place that Arabs have called home for over three centuries. Many are unaware that the first country to acknowledge the American Declaration of Independence was Morocco, an Arab country, cementing centuries of cultural, diplomatic, economic and political relations between American and Arab people. At the NYAF, we believe in the urgency of dialogue between cultural practitioners in the U.S. and Arabic-speaking regions, with a special focus on Arab American histories and practices.  

NYAF is a multidisciplinary festival of art, culture, design, food, philosophy, and intersecting industries. It programs arts and culture from the Arabic-speaking region and the Arab diaspora and showcases Arab American artists, particularly those working and living in NYC. Artists and speakers will come to New York from Palestine, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Algeria, Iraq, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, and beyond.  

NYAF was founded by Arab, Arab American, and American artists, curators, and cultural operators and is organized and run by its founding members: Artistic Director and Curator Adham Hafez, Urbanist and Curator Adam Kucharski, and the festival’s founding Senior Producer Cindy Sibilsky. NYAF is produced by HaRaKa Platform and powered by Wizara LLC in partnership with many celebrated institutions in NYC and worldwide.