Past Sessions

Here are some of the interactive professional development workshops, transdisciplinary training sessions and fundraising events we held:

Middle East Film Initiative

THE COLOR OF PARADISE by Majid Majidi (1999, Persian, 90 min)

August 18, 2013

The Chess Forum

L'Anniversaire de Leila - Middle East Film Initiative

LEILA’S BIRTHDAY by Rashid Masharawi (2008, Arabic, 71 min)

August 27, 2013

The Chess Forum

The Color of Pomegranates - Middle East Film Initiative

THE COLOR OF POMEGRANATES by Sergei Parajanov (1968, Armenian, 88 min)

September 9, 2013

The Chess Forum

Yumurta - Middle East Film Initiative

YUMURTA (Egg) by Semih Kaplanoglu (2007, Turkish, 97 min)

November 4, 2013

Turkish Cultural Center Queens

Half Moon - Middle East Film Initiative

HALF MOON (Nîwe Mang) by Bahman Ghobadi (2006, Kurdish, 107 min)

November 25, 2013

Turkish Cultural Center Queens

Little Zizou - Middle East Film Initiative

LITTLE ZIZOU by Sooni Taraporevala (2008; English, Gujarati, Hindi; 101 min)

We continued our exploration of Middle Eastern populations in their homeland and in the diaspora with a session featuring the Parsi community of India. Parsis are the descendants of Persian Zoroastrians, who immigrated to India around the 8th century.

June 23, 2014

The Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at New York University

Supported by

Kevorkian Logo - Middle East Film InitiativeMoustache Logo - Middle East Film Initiative

Sulochana - Middle East Film InitiativePramila - Middle East Film InitiativeNadira - Middle East Film Initiative


Following a session devoted to Parsi film and theatre, we continued our look at the role the Middle Eastern diaspora played in the making of the Indian film industry with an exploration of the contribution Indian Jews made to Indian cinema. Indian Jews form several culturally distinct communities and have been immigrating to India over a period of likely more than two millennia.

Pictured above are three renowned Baghdadi Jewish actresses of the Indian cinema: Sulochana, Pramila and Nadira. The film documentation we watched was a surprise!

July 21, 2014

The Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at New York University

Supported by

Kevorkian Logo - Middle East Film Initiative

Double Lives Cast - Middle East Film Initiative


Reading of Screenplays by Shirin Kamal and Iraj Anvar

In July, the Middle East Film Initiative (formerly Middle Eastern Film Club) in partnership with the Writers Guild of America East (WGAE) solicited screenplays, TV and web series pilots. Selected scripts were read at this session. The readings featured students and alumni of the NYU Tisch Department of Drama.

A TV Series Pilot by Shirin Kamal
A dramedy about four friends in their twenties in Amman, Jordan, who are torn between their own truths and the more conservative aspects of their day-to-day realities.

Directed and Cast by Ruth Priscilla Kirstein
Music: ana wein arouh? by Shirin Kamal

Ali Andre Ali – Muhannad, Cop, Band Member
Salah Anwar – Ameen, Band Member
Lida Darmian – Mothers
Rebecca Goldstein – Hanin
Mostafa Hashish – Editor, Recordist, Uncle, Guy
Sohailla Mahjour – Hadeel, Cleaning Lady, Woman and Man on Phone
Thalia Romina – Stage Directions
Danielle B. Smotrich – Dina

A Screenplay by Iraj Anvar
Set in a barren landscape somewhere in the ancient Middle East, this story adapted from Persian literature may be the original tale of Faust.

Directed by Iraj Anvar
Cast by Iraj Anvar and Ruth Priscilla Kirstein

Iraj Anvar – Barsisa
Raquel Woodruff – Stage Directions
Ralph Martin – Narrator
Nicolas Alvo – White Devil, Brother
Andrew Dahreddine – Satan, Brother, King

August 18, 2014

The Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at New York University

In partnership with

WGAE Logo - Middle East Film Initiative

Supported by

Kevorkian Logo - Middle East Film Initiative

A special thank you to Le Pain Quotidien on 8th Street & Fifth Avenue.


As we continue our mission to diversify the face and substance of U.S. film, TV, and new media, we are excited that The Middle East Film Initiative is now a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization. To celebrate, our friends at Alex and Ani hosted a Charmed by Charity event for The Middle East Film Initiative at their SoHo location.

May 12, 2017


May 15, 2018


March 23, 2019

CLOSE-UP ON THE 1.7% – An Educator’s Workshop on Media Depictions of Middle Easterners

September 28, 2019

The Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at New York University partnered with The Middle East Film Initiative to present an interactive, hands-on seminar for K-12 teachers. Led by Dr. Ruth Priscilla Kirstein, participants developed practical tools to discuss the media representations of individuals of Middle Eastern descent in U.S. and international film, TV and new media. The teachers also gained rare exposure to common industry practices behind the screen, exploring how they affect entertainment professionals of Middle Eastern descent and what we see on our screens. CTLE credits were offered by the Kevorkian Center.

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