Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Michigan State University

Arab American Studies Research Guide: Film Resources


A compilation of film resources about Arab Americans available in the MSU Libraries.   Also includes films about Iranians, Armenians, and other groups from the Middle East.

Scholarly Presentations

A is for Arab: A Century of Stereotypes. NYU Abu Dhabi Institute presentation, September 9, 2015.

Portraying Arabs: 30 Years Later with Jack Shaheen & Edmund Ghareeb (YouTube). The Jerusalem Fund & Palestine Center, June 12, 2014

Selected Film Resources, A-I

All Arab American films are located in the Digital and Multimedia Center unless otherwise indicated.  Movies can be checked out unless reserved for a class.

9/11 Backlash : Being Muslim in America / Discovery School.  Sliver Spring, MD : Discovery Communications, c2005.  1 DVD videodisc (55 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.  HV6432.7 .A123 2005 VideoDVD :  Provides a brief introduction to the history of Islam and then explores, through interviews of American Muslims, not only the religious challenges they face fitting their religion into the American lifestyle, but also the new problems they face since September 11, 2001. The interviewees, an ethnically and nationally diverse group, share a snapshot of their daily lives and then express their thoughts and feelings about the impact 9/11 has had on Muslims. The second part of the video discusses Hollywood typecasting of Arabs as villians and Islam as a religion of terror in movies and on television and how this portrayal affects the public's attitudes about Muslims. Target audience : 6-12 year olds.  Lesson Plans

Allah made me funny : live in concert / Unity Productions Foundation in association with Spark Media and Handshake Productions presents ; produced and directed by Andrea Kalin ; produced by Bryant "Preacher" Moss and Azhar Usman.  [Potomac Falls, Va.] : Unity Productions Foundation, 2008.  1 DVD videodisc (ca. 82 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in. PN1969.C65 A3443 2008 VideoDVD : This landmark concert film follows three acclaimed comedians on stage and off as they lift the veil to reveal the humorous truth of what it's really like to be Muslim in America. Mo Amer, Azhar Usman and Preacher Moss poke fun at themselves, their communities, government, human nature and the tricky predicament of living in a post-9/11 America.  Allah Made Me Funny trailer  .

Amreeka  / National Geographic Entertainment ; Imagenation Abu Dhabi ; Levantine Entertainment ; Maximum Film International ; First Generation Films ; Alcina Pictures ; Buffalo Gal Pictures ; EVMG ; Rotana Studios ; Showtime Arabia ; produced by Paul Barkin, Christina Piovesan ; written and directed by Cherien Dabis. New York, NY : Virgil Films and Entertainment, 2010.  1 DVD videodisc (96 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in. PN1995.9.A68 A4744 2010 VideoDVD : Muna Farah, a Palestinian single mom, struggles to maintain her optimistic spirit in the daily grind of intimidating West Bank checkpoints, the constant nagging of a controlling mother, and the haunting shadows of a failed marriage. Everything changes one day when she receives a letter informing her that her family has been granted a U.S. green card. Muna and her son immigrate to the United States, and while the teenager adjusts to his new school his mother tries to find a job in a small town in Illinois.  Cast : Nisreen Faour, Melkar Muallem, Hiam Abbass, Alia Shawkat, Jenna Kawar.

Arab American Day USA (YouTube).  A vibrant pan-Arab celebration in southern California featuring Arabic cuisine, music and dance. The festival-goers hail from countries that span North Africa from Morocco to Egypt and extend across the Middle East from Lebanon to the nations of the Arabian Peninsula. With the momentous and historic changes sweeping their ancestral homelands, Arab Americans have raised their voices in response to the raging civil war in Syria, the movement toward Palestinian statehood, and the backlash encountered in the post-9/11 era.

Arab American Road Movie (Part One).  Available temporarily via YouTube.

Arab American Road Movie (Part Two).  Available temporarily via YouTube/

Arab Americans in Detroit (YouTube).  Courtesy of WXYZ-TV Detroit (Channel 7)

Arab and ProudThe Detroit area is home to more than 200,000 Arab Americans, one of the largest ethnic enclaves in the United States. Although they trace their ancestry to the Arab world, the origins and religious affiliations of members of this oldest community, whose history spans more than a century of immigration and settlement in America, are diverse by ethnicity— Lebanese, Palestinians, Jordanians, Iraqis and Yemeni; and religion— Eastern rite Catholic Chaldeans, Maronites, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant Christians, and Sunni and Shiite Muslims....Nineteenth-century immigrants from Syria and Lebanon were the first to arrive. With the increased demand for automobiles and the steel to build cars at the beginning of the twentieth century, more immigrants from the Middle East came to work in Detroit’s many factories. By 1916, the Ford motor company counted 555 Arab men among its workforce. One of the first mosques in America was established in Highland Park in 1919. While the relationship between Arab immigrants and auto manufacturing endures, Arab Americans permeate across the professions, are highly educated, and have emerged as consummate entrepreneurs. Next to Ford’s famous River Rouge plant stands Dearborn’s “Arab village” where the annual weekend long Arab International Festival takes place.

Arab stereotypesSeattle, WA : Arab Film Distribution, 1998.  1 VHS videocassette (44 min.) : sd., b&w, col. ; 1/2 in. DS63.2.E8 A73 1998 Videocassette  : Black & white and color cartoons featuring Western stereotypical notions about Arabs and Arab culture.  Contents : Aesop's fables, Gypped in Egypt -- The magic mummy -- Sinbad the Sailor -- Popeye the Sailor meets Ali Baba's Forty Thieves

Arabs in America Documentary (YouTube) / Aileen Ajlouni.  The following film takes a look into the lives of Arab Americans and their experiences in America post 9/11. These are real stories, and the interviewees in the film are a mix of Christians and Muslims who come from different, yet similar cultural backgrounds, such as Palestine, Lebanon, and Iraq.

Arabs, Jews, and the News.  A documentary by Geri Alumit Zeldes and Robert Albers.  [East Lansing, Mich.] : Dept. of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media, School of Journalism, College of Communication Arts & Sciences, Michigan State University, c2009.  1 DVD videodisc : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.  Title film is 28 min. Disc includes special features: pre-documentary panel discussion (76 min.), documentary premiere panel discussion (63 min.), and trailer.  PN4899.D44 A73 2009 VideoDVD : In July 2006, Israel and Hezbollah fought a bitter and brutal war in Lebanon that was featured in media coverage around the world. Israel bombarded Lebanon from the air, and Hezbollah rained rockets on Northern Israel.  Civilians on both sides of the conflict were injured and killed, with hundreds of casualties among the Lebanese population. Back in the Detroit area – home of the largest concentration of Arab people outside the middle east and a substantial Jewish population – both Jews and Arabs demonstrated in support of their compatriots, and the Arab demonstrations in particular featured inflammatory chanting and signs that infuriated members of the Jewish community. In a sense, the war in the Middle East transported to Michigan, rupturing long-standing ties between the Jewish and Arab communities. News coverage of the war and of the demonstrations was controversial and condemned by both sides. In a 30 minute documentary, “Arabs, Jews, and the News” combines footage of the war and the demonstrations, with interviews with community leaders, journalists, performers, and people who were in the Middle East during the war, to present the Middle East conflict and the parallel conflict that erupted in Michigan.

Armenian Americans courtesy of PBS and WLIW21 Video.  Originally broadcast on November 3, 2012.  56 minutes. : The first TV program to feature personal recollections from three generations of Armenians.

Big Head.  Denise Uyehara.   2001.  41 minutes.  Available as streaming video via Kanopy : Big Head revisits the treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II and considers current-day treatment of those perceived as "the enemy now", including Muslim Americans, Arab Americans, and South Asian Americans.... A work that has been in the making since early 2001, this poetic, interdisciplinary performance offers up letters from Rohwer Internment Camp in Arkansas, responds to recent hate crimes and imprisionments, and considers the coalition-building between these various communities during times of crisis.Through a non-linear montage of images, clay animation, movement, and text, Big Head evokes the mysteriously winding path of collective memory, and how we interpret our past to provide hope for the future.

Brothers and Others : the Impact of September 11th on Arabs, Muslims, and Southeast Asians in America / Arba Film Distribution presents a film by Nicolas Rossier.  Seattle, WA : Arab Film Distribution, [2002]  1 VHS videocassette (60 min.)  HV6432 .B76 2002 Videocassette : The atrocities witnessed by the world on September 11th were hateful acts by terrorists who chose to view their vicims not as people but as symbols of a perceived evil. By jailing thousands of Arabs, Muslims and South Asians without evidence or due process, is America perpetuating the cycle of hate and ignorance which claimed so many innocent lives? Featuring interviews with such experts as Noam Chomsky and James Zogby, Brothers and Others is a one-hour documentary on the impact of 9/11 on Muslims and Arabs in America. The film follows a number of immigrants and Americans as they struggle in the heightened climate of hate, FBI and INS investigations, and economic hardships that erupted following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Casting Calls / produced by Running Down Dreams Productions for Discovery Times Channel ; producer, writer, Lauren F. Cardillo ; co-producer, editor, Bill Creed.  Princeton, N.J. : Films for the Humanities & Sciences, c2003.  1 VHS videocassette (47 min.) : sd., col. with b&w sequences ; 1/2 in. PN1995.9.V47 C37 2003 Videocassette : Does Hollywood's portrayal of villains reinforce racial stereotypes or does the industry give the public what it wants? This program explores the history of film's ethnic "bad guy," looking at sociopolitical and economic forces that create, perpetuate and rehabilitate these characters. Special attention is paid to current depictions of Muslims onscreen.

Casting Calls / produced by Running Down Dreams Productions for Discovery Times Channel ; producer/writer, Lauren F. Cardillo.  Princeton, NJ : Films for the Humanities & Sciences, c2004.  1 DVD videodisc (47 min.) : sd., col. with b&w sequences ; 4 3/4 in.  PN1995.9.V47 C37 2003 VideoDVD : "Does Hollywood's portrayal of villains reinforce racial stereotypes or does the industry give the public what it wants? This program explores the history of film's ethnic 'bad guy,' looking at sociopolitical and economic forces that create, perpetuate, and rehabilitate these characters. Special attention is paid to current depictions of Muslims onscreen [along with an historical survey of film depictions of African-Americans, Asians, and Native Americans]. A wide range of ilm clips from 'Birth of a Nation' to 'The Sopranos' provides many examples, along with commentary from critics, directors and actors ..."

Caught Between Two Worlds : images from the diverse lives of Iranians in the U.S. that make up a nation in exile / a film by Persheng Sadegh-Vaziri & Simin Farkhondeh ; edited by Bahman Kiarostami.  Seattle, WA : Arab Film Distribution, c2008.  1 DVD-R videodic (58 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in. E184.I5 C38 2008 VideoDVD :  Examines the complexities and challenges faced by a population estimated at between 600,000 to 1,000,000 Iranians who now make the USA their home. By weaving together excerpts from the lives of people living in Los Angeles, Washington, DC and in New York City, the film explores the diversity of Iranian-Americans who make up a virtual nation in exile....Many of the people featured in Caught Between Two Worlds fled Iran during the Revolution of 1979, in which the Shah was overthrown and an Islamic Republic was established. These people live and work in the USA as artists, political activists, journalists and academics—both Jewish and Muslim, young and old. The film draws attention to such issues as assimilation into a new culture, language, the traumas of revolution and the hostage crisis, religion, and life in the USA after 9/11. Caught Between Two Worlds is structured in layers, with each additional layer providing further understanding about the overall experience of what it’s like to be caught between two worlds—torn between two cultures. 

Caught in Between  : What to Call Home in Times of War / IEEHA ; directed and produced by Lina Hoshino.  [San Francisco, Calif. : IEEHA], c2004.  1 DVD videodisc (25 min.) : sd., col. with b&w sequences ; 4 3/4 in.  D769.8.A6 C384 2004 VideoDVD  : Film documents Japanese American communities revisiting the time period of the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. It compares that time period to the time period post-9/11 "War on Terrorism," when Muslims were detained and many immigrants were deported.  More info.

Covered Girls / directed by Janet McIntyre & Amy Wendel.  2003.  21:51 mins. Streaming video from Filmakers Library : Have you ever seen Muslim-American high school girls in full-length dresses and traditional hijabs (head scarves) playing full-court basketball? Prior to 9/11, the average Westerner had little more than one-dimensional views of Islam and Muslim women. Covered Girls opens a window into the lives of a colorful and startling group of Muslim-American teenage girls in New York and challenges the stereotypes many Americans may have about this culture....The film documents the daily experience of Kiren who coaches her high school basketball team, Amnah who has a black belt in Karate, and Tavasha who is cutting a CD of original rap songs. Their traditional clothing allows them to understand prejudices and to speak out about their faith, especially after 9/11, when people spat upon, pushed and threatened them. They are quite happy that their dress allows men to look at them as people instead of as sex objects. The film follows the girls from a Harlem recording studio to a Brooklyn mosque, revealing typical teenagers suddenly caught in a tug-of-war between religious extremism and the American dream. Access limited to the MSU community and other subscribers.

Dearborn, Arab Capital of America.       Streaming video.  Dearborn, Michigan, is a thriving center of Arab life in America. More than 30 percent of the population is of Middle Eastern descent, and cultural shops, businesses and attractions blend seamlessly into this American city. feature. 3:26.

Death of an Imam (clip). Streaming video.  On October 28, 2009, FBI agents shot and killed Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah in a Dearborn warehouse. It was the first killing of a Muslim religious leader in the U.S. by government agents. This short documentary examines the news reporting associated with the shooting. It explores the issues at the core of the incident: The allegations of a terrorism conspiracy, the use of FBI informants, and Muslims in the mainstream media.

The Death of an Imam : A Documentary.  [East Lansing, Mich.] : Michigan State University, 2010.  1 DVD-R videodisc (17 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.  PN4899.D44 M88 2010 VideoDVD  A documentary made by two Michigan State University faculty and a doctoral student that examines the controversial shooting of a Detroit-area Muslim leader .  The film was made by Geri Alumit Zeldes, an MSU School of Journalism faculty member; Salah Hassan from MSU’s Department of English; and Brian J. Bowe, an MSU media and information studies doctoral student and visiting assistant professor at Grand Valley State University.  The film examines the news reporting associated with the Oct. 28, 2009, shooting of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, who was killed by FBI agents at a Dearborn warehouse. The film explores the issues at the core of the incident: The allegations of a terrorism conspiracy, the use of FBI informants and Muslims in the mainstream media. The documentary is part of MSU’s project titled “Islam, Muslims and Journalism Education.” The project was funded by the Social Science Research Council.

Detroit Unleaded  / written, produced & directed by Rola Nashef.  [United States?] : Gas Afterhours Productions, c2007.  1 DVD videodisc (20 min.): sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.  PN1995.9.A68 D47 2007 VideoDVD : "Behind the bulletproof glass works Sami, a young Arab-American who believes his family's Detroit gas station will give him a chance to see his girl Naj, away from the pressures of their family and friends, while his cousin Mike is sure the station holds the key to an empire built on rolling papers and fake perfume" --  Cast : Lamar Babi, Abe Khalil, Salaam Fadlallah, Mary Assel.

Fordson : faith, fasting, football [3-disc educational package] / North Shore Films presents, in association with Quraishi Productions ; a film by Rashid Ghazi.  Glenview, Ill. : North Shore Films, LLC. ; c2011. 3 DVD videodiscs (92, 54, 122 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.  BP172 .F68 2011 VideoDVD  discs 1-3  (Currently on Reserve) :  Follows a predominately Arab-American high school football team from a working-class Detroit suburb (Dearborn) as they practice for their big cross-town rivalry game during the last ten days of Ramadan, revealing a community holding onto its Islamic faith while they struggle for acceptance in post 9/11 America.  Trailer.   Cover.

From Baghdad to Brooklyn : Life of a Syrian Refugee.  Virgil Films and Entertainment, 2012.  86 minutes. Streaming video from Kanopy : Jennifer, an American journalist, befriends Mohamed, a young Iraqi refugee living in Syria. She crosses the line from reporter to advocate, and what follows is a journey that proves to be more than either bargained for - as illusions are shattered, a friendship is tested, and one man struggles to attain the 'American Dream.'

The History and Culture of the Chaldean Community in Metro Detroit / Josephine Sarafa.  Birmingham, MI : Josephine Sarafa with cooperation with the Birmingham Public Schools, c1990.  1 VHS videocassette. Library of Michigan Audiovisual Collection E184.C4 S37 1990 : Mrs. Sarafa narrates a tour of the Chaldean Community in Metro Detroit, and discusses its history, culture, customs, problems, and influence.

Homeland documentary film - Arabs behind the scenes.  This documentary argues that the slander of Arabs in American filmmaking has existed since the early days of the silent cinema and is present in the biggest Hollywood blockbusters today. Jack Shaheen analyzes a long series of demeaning images of Arabs through his presentation of various scenes from different American movies which he has studied. This image that is characterized by showing Arabs either as bandits or as a savage, nomadic race, or shows Arab women as shallow belly dancers serving evil, naïve, and greedy Arab sheiks. Most important is the image of the rifle in the hands of Arab "terrorists". The film then explains the motivations behind these stereotypes about Arabs, and their development at key points in American history, as well as why it is so important today.

House of Sand and Fog (2003)  / Dreamworks Pictures present in association with Cobalt Media Group ; a Michael London production ; producer, Michael London, Vadim Perelman ; screenplay, Vadim Perelman and Shawn Otto ; director, Vadim Perelman.  Universal City, Calif. : DreamWorks Home Entertainment, c2004, c2003.  1 DVD videodisc (ca. 126 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in. PS3554.U2652 H682 2004 VideoDVD : Colonel Behrani is a once-wealthy Iranian immigrant who struggles for dignity while working low-wage jobs in America. Kathy Nicolo is a troubled young house cleaner striving to put her life in order. When Kathy's house is mistakenly put up for public auction--and Behrani risks the last of his family fortune to buy it--the two become enmeshed in a desperate conflict.

I Exist : Voices from the Middle Eastern Lesbian & Gay Community / a film by EyeBite Productions ; produced by Peter Barbosa ; directed by Peter Barbosa & Garrett Lenoir[United States] : Arab Film Distribution, 2004.  1 DVD videodisc (56 min.) HQ76.3.U6 I2 2004 VideoDVD : This documentary explores individual journeys of lesbian and gay people of Middle Eastern cultures living in the United States, including the cultural and religious challenges that many endure.

In My Own Skin  : the Complexity of Living as an Arab in America / co-produced and directed by Jennifer Jajeh and Nikki ByrdSeattle, WA : Arab Film Distribution, 2001.  1 VHS videocassette (16 min.) E184.A65 I569 2001 Videocassette : This video sheds the light on the complexities of the Arab American experience through the candid, in-depth interviews with five young Arab women living in New York in the months following the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center.

Inside Islam : what a billion Muslims really think / executive producers, Alex Kronemer, Michael Wolfe and Unity Productions Foundation presents a film by Robert Gardner.  [Potomac Falls, VA] : Unity Productions Foundation, c2010.  1 DVD videodisc (ca. 55 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.  DS35.6 .I58 2010 VideoDVD : Explores the expertly gathered opinions of Muslims around the globe as revealed in the world's first major opinion poll, conducted by Gallup, the preeminent polling organization. The poll, a window into the hearts and minds of the world's more than 1.3 billion Muslims in more than 35 predominantly Muslim countries, the US and Europe, provides a way to understand what ordinary Muslims think and why. The film--focused on the Gallup findings regarding such issues as Gender, Prejudice, Terrorism and Democracy--deftly shows how the data challenges the popular notions that Muslims and the West are on a collision course. Like the research, the film highlights a shared relationship between Muslims and the West that is based on facts."

The Iranian-Americans / produced and directed by Andrew Goldberg ; producer, Sara Goldblatt.  2012. [New York, NY] : Two Cats Productions ; Santa Ana, Calif. : KOCE-TV Foundation ; [Costa Mesa, Calif.] : PBS SoCal, c2012.  1 DVD videodisc (75 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.  E184.I5 I73 2012 VideoDVD  :  Chronicles the underreported history of a group of immigrants finding refuge, overcoming adversity and ultimately creating new lives in the United States. It is an emotional account of displacement told by more than 25 Iranians who were uprooted from their home and heritage and built completely new lives in the U.S. The Iranian Americans is the story of what it means to be Iranian in the United States....Even though Iran is in the news virtually every day, many Americans have little knowledge of the story of the hundreds of thousands of Iranians who live in the U.S. As THE IRANIAN AMERICANS shows, the Iranians' story begins more than two millennia ago in the Middle East, in a land that came to be called Persia. They built an empire that stretched from North Africa to India, from the Caspian to the Red Sea. A people of diverse ethnicities and faiths, they developed rich traditions that endured centuries of migrations and conquests. In the second half of the 20th century, the nation, now known as Iran, was racked by political and religious upheaval, leading ultimately to revolution. In 1979, the revolution thrust Ayatollah Khomeini into power, beginning an era when dissent was not tolerated. Tens of thousands of Iranians left their homeland for the United States, a country they would come to call home.   Cover.

Selected Films Resources, J-N

All Arab American films are located in the Digital and Multimedia Center unless otherwise indicated.  Movies can be checked out unless reserved for a class.

The Kitchen / a film by Andre Degas ; produced in association with Independent Television Service.  [San Francisco, Calif. : ITVS, 2010].  1 DVD-R videodisc (62 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in. + 1 sound disc (4 3/4 in.).  PN1995.9.F35 K54 2010 VideoDVD  VideoDVD & CD : The Kitchen, is an hour long television drama directed by Andre Degas. The Kitchen is the story of Jamal, a first generation Egyptian American who struggles to strike a balance between his personal ambitions of 'making it' in the music business and the responsibilities his immigrant father, Farid, forces upon him. The two are confined together in Farid's convenience store located in the multi-cultural neighborhood known as Hell's Kitchen....The neighborhood is undergoing serious gentrification and the immigrant family is having trouble keeping the lease on the store. Jamal views the bodega as stagnation and Farid who doesn't approve of Jamal's band mates or his girlfriend, views his son's music career as a dangerous pipe dream. The story comes to a head when the store is robbed in the middle of the night. An original Latin and Egyptian music soundtrack by Frank Valdez.

Lest we forget / written and directed by Jason DaSilva ; produced by Jason DaSilva, Roopa De Choudhury ; In Face Films Productions.    New York, NY : Third World Newsreel, [2003]..  1 DVD videodisc (57 min.) : sound, color ; 4 3/4 in..  E184.A65 L47 2003 VideoDVD : Through critical lenses, this film explores a lesson that history has forgotten in a country that is alienating its citizens and violating their basic rights. During World War II it was Japanese-Americans, now it is brown skin, Muslims and people of Arabic and South Asian descent. Can America survive this perpetration of gross injustices yet again? This documentary follows the events post-9/11, examining the roundups and racial attacks that continue to occur in the name of national security. The film contains stories told by individuals who have felt the severity of wartime racism in America and explores the sullied past in the hopes of creating lessons for a different future. Narrated by poet Suheir Hammad.  Trailer.   Cover

Makolet: A Middle Eastern Grocery in Brooklyn /  directed by Ilana Goldberg.  2000.  25 mins. Streaming video from Filmakers Library : This upbeat documentary depicts the social space of a kosher Middle Eastern grocery store in the traditionally Sephardic section of Brooklyn. Serving the local Syrian Jewish clientele, it has now also become a kind of social headquarters for expatriate Israelis as well as other Middle Eastern customers. Impromptu interviews with customers reveal their nostalgia for other places and times, as well as their ambivalence about life in America....The vividly polyglot customers – Hebrew, English, Syrian and Egyptian Arabic as well as snippets of other languages are heard – paint a portrait of the complexities of multicultural life in a diaspora setting and the compromises necessary to forging a new identity in a new place. Of interest to classes in anthropology, Middle East and Jewish studies. Access limited to the MSU community and other subscribers.

Multicultural Peoples of North America Video Series  / Fabian-Baber Communication Production ; executive producer, Andrew Schlessinger ; [produced and directed by Rhonda Fabian & Jerry Baber] ; script writers, Tamara Tiebel, Steve Saylor.  Bala Cynwyd, PA. : Schlessinger Video Productions, c1993. 30 minute videocassettes.  GN550 .M85 1993 Videocassette :  "This series, designed for juveniles in grades 4-10, celebrates the heritage of fifteen different cultural groups by tracing the history of their emigration to North America, showing the unique traditions they brought with them, and who they are today. Each volume discusses when and why each group emigrated, where they settled, which occupations they engaged in, and who the important leaders are within each community."  The MSU Libraries owns [3.] Arab Americans; [5.] Chinese Americans;  [12.] Korean Americans; and [15.] Puerto Ricans.

The Muslim Americans / a NewsHour special ; a production of WETA Washington, D.C. ; series producer, Leo Eaton.  Arlington, VA : PBS Home Video, 2007.  1 DVD videodisc (ca. 60 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.  BP67.U6 M74 2007 VideoDVD : Explores the diversity of Muslims in America, focusing on experiences post 9/11 and also contrasting life for American Muslims with their counterparts in Great Britain and Europe

My American Grandmother / produced by Ramez Ghazoul ; written and edited by Aysha Ghazoul.   Seattle, WA : Arab Film Distribution, c1999.  1 VHS videocassette (44 min.)  PN1998.2 .M9 1999 Videocassette : An exploration of the relationship between the director herself, an Iraqi filmmaker currently living in Portland, Oregon, and her Texan grandmother. Integrating personal voice, historical footage and home movies, the director tells the story of her grandmother who worked as a showgirl in the 1930s and 40s.

Not without my daughter (1990) / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents an Ufland production ; directed by Brian Gilbert ; produced by Harry J. Ufland and Mary Jane Ufland ; screenplay by Pat Riddle. Culver City, Calif. : MGM Home Entertainment, 2001.   1 DVD videodisc (ca. 116 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.  PN1995.9.P27 N68 2001 VideoDVD : Two-time Oscar winner Sally Field adds another powerful acting triumph to her gallery of great roles in the suspense thriller Not Without My Daughter, a riveting true story of terror and escape. Betty has travelled to Iran with her daughter and native-born husband  for a visit with his family. But soon the horrible truth about their vacation surfaces. Betty's husband doesn't intend to bring his family back to America...ever. She may return, he says, but their daughter must stay. And he has centuries of local custom and the oppressive might of a police state behind him. As a stranger in a foreign land, Betty has no money, no friends and no rights. But she does have an unconquerable will. In a hostile, war-torn country, where even the slightest misstep can mean death, she makes a desperate bid to escape with her child. Her story, her courage and her ultimate triumph are unforgettable.

Nouri's Dance.  “Nouri's Dance” centers on an individual member of the Iranian American community immersed in spontaneous dance at a prominent bookstore in Los Angeles. It is both joyous and nostalgic, and the music induces the heartwarming performance. It is noteworthy that in 2008 when this was filmed, much to the disappointment of many, the Nowruz celebration in the streets of Westwood was cancelled due to a controversy over the manner in which the Iranian flag had been presented the previous year. The celebration was renewed the following year and was attended by the mayor of Los Angeles and other dignitaries. A multitude of children and adolescents of Iranian descent and their parents, from diverse backgrounds, come together to affirm, enjoy and share their common heritage. The festive atmosphere of Nowruz attracts other Americans to experience this annual commemoration of the Persian New Year first hand.

Selected Film Resources, O-Z

All Arab American films are located in the Digital and Multimedia Center unless otherwise indicated.  Movies can be checked out unless reserved for a class.

On a wing and a prayer : an American Muslim learns to fly[Potomac Falls, VA] : Unity Productions Foundation, c2008.   1 DVD videodisc (57 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.  TL540.S235 O5 2008 VideoDVD : Follows Monem Salam, an American-born Muslim with a very inconvenient dream: since childhood he has wanted to get his pilot’s license. Several years after 9/11, he decides it’s safe to try. The call from the FBI is only the beginning of his problems. The film alternates between gentle humor and white-knuckle moments as it delves into the life of a devout Muslim American family as they pursue happiness and the American dream. For more information

Our Arab American story  : reverence, resourcefulness and respect / executive producer and director Keith Famie ; producer/writer Chris Kassel / [Wixom, Mich.] : Visionalist Entertainment Productions, c2007.  2 videodiscs (ca. 75 minutes) : sd., col. with b&w sequences ; 4 3/4 in. + 1 booklet (52 p. : ill. ; 18 cm)  F575.A65 O97 2007 VideoDVD  2 discs & 1 booklet : This DVD contains an inspiring look at Arab American customs, holidays, and religious alliances, both Muslim and Christian throughout Detroit. It is an honest overview of the triumphs and tragedies of our Lebanese, Palestinian, Iraqi and Yemeni neighborhoods.  This is a special two disc set that features many extras including a special Virtual tour DVD of the Arab American Library in Dearborn Michigan.

Persian and Proud.   “Persian and Proud” takes place in Westwood, the heart of the Iranian American community in Los Angeles. The occasion is Nowruz 2009 and thousands turn out for the daylong street party. While Iranians have not formed ethnic enclaves like Little Saigon and Koreatown, the large concentration of stores and businesses underscores the visible presence of Iranians in this area. Iranian immigrants are generally refugees, most of whom left their country at the beginning of the revolution that deposed the Shah in 1978-79. Iranians tend to be highly educated and entrepreneurial and gravitate towards commerce and the professions. The singing of the Iranian national anthem of the Pahlavi monarchy and the presence of political and human rights activists underscore the attachment this community has for both Iran and the United States.

Persian New Year, Los Angeles Style.  This short introductory documentary features a voice-over narrative and provides the viewer with the essential information about Nowruz in the broader context of Iranian immigration and settlement in the United States. The setting is the last day of Nowruz--the culmination of the festival known as Sizdah Bedar--and is held on the grounds of Balboa Park in the San Fernando Valley where many Iranian Americans reside. On this happy occasion, Iranians celebrate the passage of bad luck or “getting rid of thirteen.” At the end of the day, the sabzeh—or sprouts—that were grown at the beginning of Nowruz are taken from the Haft Sin table and thrown into a river, symbolizing both the cycle of life and the jettisoning of all sickness, pain and bad luck that would have marred the coming year.

Persons of Interest / Documentary Campaign ; directed by Alison Maclean and Tobias Perse ; producer, Lawrence Konner.  Brooklyn, NY : First Run/Icarus Films, 2003.  1 VHS videocassette (63 min.) : sd., col. ; 1/2 in.  HV6432 .P47 2003 Videocassette : Twelve people are interviewed after they were taken into custody following the September 11th terrorist attacks. These people describe how they were arbitrarily taken into custody and detained for weeks or months without being charged or given access to family and legal counsel. Includes short portions of speeches by Attorney General Ashcroft.

Reel Bad Arabs  : how Hollywood vilifies a people / a Media Education Foundation production ; directed by Sut Jhally ; produced by Jeremy Earp.  Northampton, MA : Media Education Foundation, c2006.  1 DVD videodisc (50 min.) : sd., col. with b&w sequences ; 4 3/4 in. PN1995.9.A68 R44 2006 VideoDVD : Throughout its history Hollywood has portrayed Arabs as buffoons or bandits. The video seeks to rectify this stereotyping by comparing it to other forms of racist imagery and by suggesting alternative narratives that treat the Arabs as human, not demons.

Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People (You,Tube, 2006) - This groundbreaking documentary dissects a slanderous aspect of cinematic history that has run virtually unchallenged form the earliest days of silent film to today's biggest Hollywood blockbusters.

Retrospectives  This collection of four videocasts focuses on the Arab American experience. The first two, Looking for Antonio Bishellany and The Last House on Washington Street, relate the stories of the first Arabic-speaking immigrants to the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century. They are based on images set to a narrative taken from historical memoirs and the photography and research by Jonathan Friedlander. The next videocasts are filmed by Erik Friedl. The third features a reading by author Gregory Orfalea entitled Grandma Nazera about one of the pioneering Syrian female peddler merchants in America. The fourth, Grape Harvest: The Yemenis of the San Joaquin, set in Delano, California, profiles Mohammed Abdullah who paved the way for Yemenis to immigrate to this bountiful agricultural region over half a century ago.

The Siege  (1998) / Twentieth Century Fox presents a Lynda Obst production ; an Edward Zwick film ; story by Lawrence Wright ; screenplay by Lawrence Wright and Mennio Meyjes & Edward Zwick ; produced by Lynda Obst, Edward Zwick ; directed by Edward Zwick.  Beverly Hills, CA : 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, c1999.  1 DVD videodisc (116 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.  PN1995.9.A3 S543 1999 VideoDVD : A high-profile action/exploitation thriller set in the present, The Siege is really a fantasy that extrapolates from major terrorist attacks. Denzel Washington is FBI special agent Hubbard, "Hub" to his friends, whose anti-terrorist task force must track down the terrorist cells responsible for a spate of bombings in New York. His partner is an FBI agent of Arabian extraction (played convincingly by Tony Shalhoub), proving not all Arabs are bad guys--a point the film should be lauded for making again and again. Thrown into the mix is a CIA spy (played almost kittenish at times by Annette Bening), whose ties to the terrorists appear to be at the center of the conflicts. When the bombings escalate out of control, the President institutes martial law, sending in General Devereaux (played with impenetrable countenance by Bruce Willis) with tanks and troops to ferret out the terrorists. Echoes of Japanese-Americans in internment camps ring out as Arabs, including the son of the Arab-American FBI agent, are herded into a stadium. Periodic audio-montages of "man in the street" sentiments anchor the material in the present and show how serious and relevant the material is. But finally what we have is a taut and entertaining popcorn movie, giving itself the humanistic nod when it can.  Cast : Denzel Washington, Annette Bening, Bruce Willis, Tony Shalhoub, Sami Bouajila, David Proval.

Tales From Arab Detroit  / ACCESS and Olive Branch Productions ; written and directed by Joan Mandell ; produced by Sally Howell, Joan Mandell.  Los Angeles, CA : Olive Branch Productions, c1995.  1 VHS videocassette (45 min.) : sd., col. with b&w sequences ; 1/2 in.  E184.A65 T354 1995 Videocassette : "When an Arab American community center brings an Egyptian poet to perform a 1000-year-old epic, sparks fly. The result is a familiar American tale: parents trying to pass on cherished traditions and language, while their children are at home in a world of McDonald's and MTV".

A thousand & one journeys : the Arab Americans / Zeitoune Film Works ; a film by Abe Kasbo.   [Montclair, New Jersey] : Zeitoune Film Works, [2015]  1 DVD videodisc : sound, black & white (with color sequences) ; 4 3/4 in.  E184.A65 T56 2015 VideoDVD : The untold story of almost 200 years of the contributions of those who immigrated to the United States from the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf have made to the American fabric. The film vividly paints a portrait of the Arab-American immigrant experience through the stories of people who, like all Americans, immigrated in pursuit of the American Dream, including Senator George Mitchell, Jamie Farr, General John Abizaid, Anthony Shadid, Helen Thomas and more. With historical immigration patterns as background, the film explores the personal stories of Arab-Americans and how they have contributed to the collective American experience. At a time when the media tends to paint Arab peoples and culture with the broad brush of terrorism, it is increasingly important to present a positive image of the many people of Middle Eastern, North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula who have made America their home, and highlight their American journey as an important part of the larger American Experience.  More information.

Towelhead  / Warner Independent Pictures presents in association with Indian Paintbrush, This is That production in association with Your Face Goes Here Entertainment ; produced by Ted Hope, Alan Ball ; written for the screen and directed by Alan Ball (2008) / Burbank, Calif. : Warner Home Video, 2008.  1 DVD videodisc (116 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.  PN1995.9.C45 T69 2008 VideoDVD : Haunting and moving, Alan Ball's directorial debut, Towelhead, settles around the viewer for hours, days, afterward, as its delicate layers unfold. Ball, the screenwriter of American Beauty and the creator of HBO's splendid Six Feet Under, revisits some familiar territory here, yet bestows grace upon even his most flawed characters. The film follows the life of 13-year-old Lebanese-American Jasira, quiet and compliant, who's shuttled between an uncaring American-born mom and a strict, bigoted Lebanese-American dad. When she goes to Houston to live with her father, Jasira starts babysitting for a bratty neighbor kid, whose dad takes an unnatural interest in the girl. A new classmate, Tommy, also desires the eighth grader, and one begins to feel Jasira's whole world is a predatory nightmare. Yet the film, while uncomfortable at times to watch, manages to provoke without appalling. Young Jasira is exploring her own sexual awakening, secretly (with echoes of American Beauty), and so desires adult attention that she tiptoes into a flirtation with Eckhart's character, Mr. Vuoso -- who is undeniably creepy, yet Eckhart's performance gives Vuoso a begrudging sympathy, no small feat. It's the film's achievement that characters the viewer should be repulsed by -- the harsh, overbearing dad; the pervy Mr. Vuoso -- have more than a shred of humanity. And luckily for young Jasira, another neighbor, played by Toni Collette, takes her under her wing -- and there's almost a palpable sigh of relief when she does. And the script is shot through with humor, which doesn't exactly leaven the intense subject matter, but provides some lightness. When Jasira gets her first period, uptight dad takes her shopping for sanitary pads (no! tampons! ever!), and in the harsh light of the drugstore asks the mortified girl, "Would you describe your situation as Light, Medium, or Heavy?" Bishil is a lovely new discovery, and stays true to herself while the adults around her -- with the exception of Collette's Melina -- let her down, or worse. The cinematography, draped in shadows, underscores Jasira's unstated plea: See me. Notice me. Care about me.

TV's Promised Land (2003)  / presented by Mafi ; a film by Nick Dembowski.  [S.l.] : Mafi : Arab Film Distribution, c2003.  1 DVD videodisc (75 min.) : sd., col. with b&w sequences ; 4 3/4 in. P94.5.A7 T877 2003 VideoDVD  : Disney's Aladdin, Indiana Jones.., Warner Brothers' cartoons of crazed Middle Eastern villains, international terrorists... These are America's pop culture depictions of Arabs and Muslims.  With TV's Promised Land, director Nicholas Dembowski creates a clever montage of found footage from Hollywood movies, cable news networks, European news broadcasts, American Westerns, etc. The accumulated evidence powerfully asserts that Western media has long demonized a catch-all "Arab/Muslim world" via selective coverage and dehumanizing imagery that boosts the "good vs. evil" rhetoric of American neoconservative politicians and pundits. By offering no narration or commentary of its own, TV's Promised Land lets news outlets, Hollywood filmmakers and politicians incriminate themselves.

Voices in Exile : Immigrants and the First Amendment / produced and written by Joan Mandell and Laura Hayes.  Hohokus, NJ : New Day Films, [1998]  1 VHS videocassette (30 min.) : sd., col. with b&w sequences ; 1/2 in.  KF4770.A1 V65 1997 Videocassette : Examines the question of to what extent aliens are protected by First Amendments rights. Follows the case of eight Palestinian immigrants in Los Angeles who were arrested for distributing PLO literature. The case involved the FBI, the INS, and the ACLU.  Narrated by Casey Kasem.

Where we live : Iraqi exiles in America / a film by Fady Hadid.  New York, NY : Filmakers Library, 2011.  1 streaming video file (22 min.).  Available as streaming video from Filmakers Librarry. : "Iraqi-born Fady Hadid tries to find an exiled family to film in a suburb of San Diego, one of the largest communities of Iraqi refugees in the United States. Almost all are afraid to speak with him, fearing for their families back at home. Finally the Hamad family steps forward, and a touching portrait emerges of hope for life in the new country along with longing for the old country and the life left behind."

Whose Children Are These? / a film by Theresa Thanjan.  New York, NY : Filmakers Library, inc, c2004.  1 DVD videodisc (28 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.  E184.M88 W56 2004 VideoDVD : Through the eyes of three Muslim teenagers, the film presents effects of the post-911 INS special registration of certain male non-immigrants from Muslim countries.


Arab San Francisco - Shaping San Francisco  : Peoples from the Arab World have been migrating to San Francisco for over a hundred years. The earliest were mostly from the Levant: Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine; and also Yemen. Most recent immigrants coming from North Africaâs Magrib region (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) and Iraq since the first Gulf War. Why did they come here? How have they affected SF life? What are their ongoing connections to âhomelandsâ across the world? San Francisco, being a liberal progressive oasis, attracts many gay and lesbian Arabs as a home away from home. This Talk will also examine the gay and lesbian struggle in the context of conservatism in the Arab World, showing how Arab conservatism was created, encouraged and spread as a result of western interference. Monadel Herzallah (Arab American Union Members Council) Renda Dabit (Palestinian American artist, activist, and business woman), Maher Sabry, (Egyptian human-rights activist and filmmaker). Recorded March 12, 2008 as part of Shaping San Francisco's Talks series at CounterPULSE.

Subject Guide

Profile Photo
Erik Ponder
African Studies Librarian
MSU Libraries
366 W. Circle Dr. (E 224B)
East Lansing, MI 48824

Ask a Librarian

Faculty Services

Video Digitization

Faculty may request hard copy videos be digitized for course distribution on D2L.

  1. Secure copyright permissions by submitting a request to the MSU Libraries Copyright Permissions Center.
  2. Contact Insructional Design and Development with your request.  They will need to see the copyright permission before digitizing.

Course Reserves

Faculty may place videos on course reserve.  This will keep videos intended for course use in the library for student viewing.  Faculty may be able to arrange special permission to check out the reserved video for a classroom showing by contacting the DMC.


Want to Make a Suggestion?

Feel free to recommend your favorite documentary or feature film for acquisition by the library. 

Better yet the Library will be happy to accept donations and they are tax deductible too!

Michigan State University