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Arab and European Visitors
Arab filmmakers

Arab and European Visitors

CNES hosts delegations from the Arab World and Europe.

On February 3 CNES organized a meeting between a delegation of graduate students from Jordanian universities and students in the UCLA Islamic Studies program, Islamic Studies Chair Afaf Marsot, CNES Student Affairs Officer Diane James and Middle East Bibliographer David Hirsch. The topic of their conversation was the role of religion in the US.

The delegation included eleven individuals, most of them from the Faculty of Shari`a and Islamic Studies at the University of Jordan, Yarmouk University and Al Bayt University. The Jordanian students and the UCLA group engaged in lively discussion and debate over the Islamic Studies curriculum at their respective universities, the differing approaches and the challenges inherent in the educational systems of Jordan and the US, particularly in teaching and studying religion.

A four-member delegation from Tunisia visited CNES on February 18 as part of a 21-day State Department program for emerging leaders. Their agenda was to study grassroots democracy, popular mobilization, and how NGOs affect national policy. Our guests were Mokhtar Mohamed Jalali, a member of the Political and International Relations Commission of the Tunisian Parliament and an attorney for the Supreme Court of Tunis, Zyed Krichen, editor of the French-language Tunisian newsweekly Réalités, Jalel Lakhdar, Deputy Director of the opposition Socialist Democratic Movement and a member of the Human Rights Organization of Tunis, and Khedija M’Bazaia, a member of the Political Bureau of the opposition Popular Unity Party and President of the Tunisian Human Rights League.

On January 23 a group of six film and television producers and directors visited UCLA as part of a State Department program to promote understanding of US culture. The delegation consisted of guests from Oman: Malalah Darwish Al Bulushi, director of film and television at Oman TV, and Khalid Abdul Rahim Al Zadjali, head of the drama division at Oman TV; from Egypt: Ahmed Mohamed Rashwan El Nagar, owner and manager of Dream Productions, Egypt’s first privately owned satellite network, and film director Marwan Wahid Hamed; from Lebanon: Elie Khalife, screenwriter and instructor at the Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts, and Dimitri Khodr, filmmaker and consultant to Heya TV (“She TV,” the first Arab satellite channel for women).

CNES Outreach Director Jonathan Friedlander briefed the delegation on the Center’s mission and its ongoing collaboration with the UCLA Film and Television Archive in organizing screenings of Middle Eastern cinema. He also discussed a number of UCLA filmmakers whose work involves the Middle East, the substantial holdings of Middle Eastern films and videos in UCLA collections, and the use of these films in teaching Middle Eastern languages. The visitors also met with Ann Kerr, Fulbright Coordinator at the International Institute, Christopher Coppel, Director of Operations for the School of Theater, Film and Television, and Barbara Boyle, Chair of the Department of Film, Television and Digital Media, with whom they discussed new technologies. For their part, the visitors described strategies of independent film and video production and distribution in the Middle East. The region has a long cinematic tradition, dating back to the 1890s when the Qajar court of Iran made movies for the enjoyment of courtiers. But the real success of Middle Eastern cinema, as in America, is built on the foundation of films for the mass audience.

Managing diversity in a multiethnic society was the topic of an April discussion at CNES engaging individuals who work in politics, education, media and government service in eight European countries, among them several professionals who trace their ancestry to the Middle East. Our guests included Hikmet Kayahan, Head of the Youth Branch of the Continuing Education Center, VHS Ottakring (Austria); Tina Jelin, News Program Editor for Studio 88, a private radio station (Bosnia and Herzegovina); Jacqueline Vaklouch Toleva, Chief Expert, Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and Religions (Bulgaria); Sotos Ktoris, Central Committee Member, Socialist Party EDEK (Cyprus); Cigdem Akkaya, Deputy Director of the Center for Studies on Turkey; Omid Nouripour, Chairman of the Young Greens, Hesse (Germany); Despina Syrri, NGO Specialist and Lecturer (Greece); Blagoja Stojkovski, Head of the Division for Asylum and Immigration Issues, Ministry of the Interior (Macedonia, FYROM); Kemal Yaldizli, Ministry of Justice and Oslo Police Department (Norway); Bojan Boskovic, General Manager and Main Program Coordinator, Exit Festival, Novi Sad (Serbia and Montenegro); and Tove Lifvendahl, Member of the Executive Board of the Moderate Party (Sweden). The participants engaged in a lively discourse with Jonathan Friedlander about issues related to diversity and multiculturalism in their respective societies. They were especially interested to learn about the large Middle Eastern American population in Southern California and its linkages with CNES.

The Center wishes to acknowledge and thank Gohar Grigorian of the International Visitors Bureau at the UCLA International Institute, Napah Phyakul Quach, Director of International Exchange Programs for the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles, and the US State Department’s International Visitor Program.

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