Cultural Briefings

Lebanon Takes Center Stage at Avignon Theater Festival

By 
Al Jadid Staff

The 63rd Avignon Festival was held from July 7-29 in Avignon, France. Founded by Jean Vilar in 1947, the annual theater festival is one of the oldest in France, and one of the most popular and historically significant. This year there was a special Lebanese presence.  The Lebanese participants included-- besides the associated artist of the festival, the Lebanese-Canadian Wajdi Mouawad -- Lina Saneh, Rabih Mroue, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Zad Moultaka, Yalda Younes, Yasmine Hamdan, Daniel Arbid, and Ghassan Salhab.

A Syrian-American Navigates New Orleans

By 
Al Jadid Staff

The stereotyping and mistrusting of Arabs has existed before Sept. 11, but even more so after 2001. And no where can we find greater examples of this prejudice than in the depictions of Arabs in mainstream cultural mediums. So it comes as some surprise that a recent departure from this long-standing stereotype comes from mainstream American author Dave Eggers’s new novel “Zeitoun,” which documents the lives of a Syrian-American family and the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina.

Voiceless Iraqi Refugees Find a Voice in ‘Aftermath’

By 
Al Jadid Staff

“Aftermath,” a new play by the award-winning husband-wife duo of Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, is an 85-minute series of monologues centering on the lives of Iraqi refugees in Jordan. Inspired by 35 interviews with Iraqi refugees in Jordan conducted by Blank and Jensen in 2008, the play is concerned with engendering a dialogue between Iraqis and Americans--not as individuals directly involved with the war or politics of Iraq, but as everyday people left in the wake of a destructive war.

Hollywood In-Fighting Over Israel Goes Public

By 
Al Jadid Staff

When Canadian documentary filmmaker John Greyson pulled his latest movie, “Covered,” from the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) late in August, the controversy did not arise from the removal of his film, as might be expected.  Nor was it his subsequent criticism of TIFF’s new film series entitled City-To-City, highlighting the films of Tel Aviv in an open letter.

New Documentary Examines Helen Thomas, Icon of American Journalism

By 
Alexandra Stanisic

When former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow contacted ABC's correspondent Ann Compton, he was on his death-bed with a terminal case of colon cancer. Still, he wanted to send a message to legendary White House correspondent Helen Thomas, who was also ill at the time. “If you are in touch with her, would you please pass on my love. I think she knows how much she means to me and to million of others,” Snow wrote in an e-mail message to Compton.

Egyptian-American Artist Offers Erotic View of Women’s Role in Muslim Society

By 
Alexandra Stanisic

Erotic pictures, stitched canvas and long dangling threads are the signature style of Egyptian artist Ghada Amer, whose art is being featured at the Brooklyn Museum exhibition through October 19. “Love Has No End,” her first retrospective work to be displayed in the United States, deals with the power of female sexuality, and the inexhaustible question of women’s status within contemporary society.

Palestinian Resistance Goes Digital

By 
Alexandra Stanisic

The ongoing human-rights violations in the occupied territories of the West Bank have spawned a new genre of “citizen journalism,” wherein residents exploit technology to document and combat social injustice. Palestinians are now employing digital cameras to record footage of attacks on them by Jewish settlers, which is then used as evidence when filing police reports, according to a recent New York Times story.

Iraq Symbolism and Melodrama

By 
Simone Stevens

British playwright Mike Bartlett’s “Artefacts” is a parade of symbols and metaphors set in present day Iraq. Lining up the disintegration of one family with that of the country in general, the play meditates on the interconnectedness and startling similarities between family life and politics.

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