The Middle East Film Initiative (MEFI) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization based in New York City. The first organization of its kind in the United States, MEFI was launched by Dr. Ruth Priscilla Kirstein in 2013. MEFI conducts

  • interdisciplinary professional development
  • curriculum development
  • project development
  • consulting
  • research
  • outreach
  • advocacy

with the purpose of implementing media diversity and equal employment opportunities (EEO) in United States film, TV and new media. It focuses on U.S. media and entertainment professionals who are of Middle Eastern descent or are working on topics of importance to U.S. Middle Eastern communities.

The MEFI community serves those involved in the making and life of U.S. film, TV and new media, such as actors, writers, directors, composers, designers, technicians, producers, journalists, academics, casting directors, agents, distributors, policy makers, and audiences. The group is particularly attentive to the role women play both behind and in front of the camera, and aims to enrich the representation of women in U.S. film, TV and new media. MEFI is non-political, non-religious, and has no affiliations with organizations based abroad.

The New York City-based Middle East Film Initiative (MEFI) conducts interdisciplinary training, project development, consulting, research, outreach, and advocacy, with the purpose of implementing media diversity in United States film, TV and new media.


“It’s often Terrorist 1, Terrorist 2, Terrorist 3, and for women it’s even worse”. Matt Hanson talks to Dr. Ruth Priscilla Kirstein, the founder of The Middle East Film Initiative in NYC, about discriminatory practices towards and lack of representation of Middle Eastern cultural practitioners, and about some new community-based methods offered by MEFI for addressing them.”

Article published in Tohu Magazine,



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