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Arab Film Fest in Dearborn Dec. 3-5 2009


They originated in Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Algeria and the U.S.A. They've won dozens of awards in festivals in the Arab World, Europe and the U.S. And they won't be popping up on the marquee at your local multiplex anytime soon.

The 2009 Arab Film Festival at the Arab American National Museum, Thursday, December 3 through Saturday, December 5, presents a wide-ranging and thought-provoking selection of feature-length and short films made by Arabs and Arab Americans.

The 5th annual festival opens with two short films about women in Palestine – the 2009 documentary Thorns and Silk and the fascinating 3-D animation Fatenah. It continues with an official selection from the 2008 Cannes Film Festival that also received 2008 Academy Award consideration, Salt of This Sea, the feature-film directorial debut of noted poet/filmmaker Annemarie Jacir, starring poet/actress Suheir Hammad.

The festival closes with the highly acclaimed new documentary Garbage Dreams, the story of the Zaballeen or "garbage people" of Cairo who recycle trash in order to survive. Garbage Dreams caught the attention of Vice President and environmental activist Al Gore, who honored the film with his REEL Current Award at this year's Nashville Film Festival. It also snagged awards at festivals this year in Phoenix, Vail and Bermuda.

Detroit-area director Sam Kadi will lead a question & answer session with festival audiences following the screening of his short film, Raised Alone (Package E, Saturday, Dec. 5). Kadi is the first Michigan-based director to be granted a 43% tax rebate on production costs by the State of Michigan under its film tax incentive program.

Among the other well-known performers featured in this year's festival films are Algerian TV star Biyouna (Paloma Delight, Package B, Friday, Dec. 4); Tunisian actress Hend Sabri (Rise and Shine, Package D, Saturday, Dec. 5); and Hiam Abbass (The Visitor; The Lemon Tree) who costars in the war drama Dawn of the World (Package D, Saturday, Dec. 5).

The festive Opening Night Reception at 6 p.m. Thursday, December 3, is a benefit for the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute; a breast cancer survivor will speak just prior to that evening's screening of Fatenah, in which cancer plays a role. The reception features a strolling halal dinner under the dome in the dramatic AANM Community Courtyard, plus admission to the screening of Fatenah and Thorns and Silk.

The complete schedule and information about buying tickets and weekend passes appears below. Single "package" tickets (two films each) are $6 AANM Members; $8 non-members. Tickets for the December 3 Opening Night Reception are $14 AANM Members; $16 non-members. A Festival Weekend Pass is just $25 for AANM Members; get the pass plus a 12-month extension of your Membership for just $35. Non-members may purchase a Festival Weekend Pass, which includes an individual one-year Museum Membership, for just $35. Festival Weekend Passes do not include admission to the Opening Night Reception.

The Arab American National Museum documents, preserves, celebrates, and educates the public on the history, life, culture, and contributions of Arab Americans. It serves as a resource to enhance knowledge and understanding about Arab Americans and their presence in this country. The Arab American National Museum is a project of ACCESS, a Dearborn, Michigan-based nonprofit human services and cultural organization. Learn more at and

The Arab American National Museum is a proud Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Read about the Affiliations program at

The Museum is located at 13624 Michigan Avenue, Dearborn, MI, 48126. Museum hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday, Tuesday; Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Admission is $6 for adults; $3 for students, seniors and children 6-12; ages 5 and under, free. Call 313.582.2266 for further information.