Celebrate Arab American Heritage Month

Published on March 31, 2022 by Beatrice Alvarez

Documentaries and programs that celebrate the diversity and history of Arab American communities.

Americans whose heritage connects to one or more of the 22 Arab countries have a rich history in this country dating back to 1527 when, according to the U.S. Department of State, the first people from Morocco and Lebanon immigrated to this country. Those two men, from Morocco and Lebanon respectively, were considered the first "Arab Americans."

Every April, we celebrate Arab American Heritage Month by sharing films about Arab American communities and documentaries by Arab American filmmakers.

You can also learn more from the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

Brooklyn Inshallah

From America ReFramed: Father Khader El-Yateem, is campaigning to be New York City's first Arab American councilman. As a Lutheran Pastor and Palestinian American, El-Yateem's bid to make history reveals the aspirations and divisions of his multicultural district.

The Feeling of Being Watched

From POV:

In the Chicago suburb where journalist Assia Boundaoui grew up, most residents in her Muslim immigrant neighborhood believe they are under surveillance. Assia investigates and uncovers FBI documents about "Operation Vulgar Betrayal," one of the largest pre-9/11 counterterrorism probes conducted on domestic soil, right in Assia's hometown.

Syrian Plight

From the series Muslim Youth Voices:

In this documentary, filmmaker Dunya Khalil brings attention to Syrian refugees, particularly children and youth who have become orphans. She learns about young people who have been purposely shot in the spine in order to paralyze them and prevent them from rebelling against the government.

Natour's Grocery

From POV:

Filmmaker Nadine Natour turns her lens on her parents and her hometown, Appomattox, VA, to capture the story of her parents’ emigration from Palestine to the United States.

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Somalia: A Nation of Poets

From Twin Cities PBS:

Somalia’s rich oral culture features poetry as its highest art form, a tradition that continues with Somali peoples worldwide. Produced with Ka Joog and the Somali Museum of Minnesota.

A Broken House

From POV:

Mohamad Hafez received a one-way ticket to the United States. Missing his homeland, he decided to create a stand-in. A story of love, loss and creating pathways home.

Artist Leila Awadallah

From the Twin Cities PBS series Art Is...:

Palestinian American artist Leila Awadallah uses the Arabic language as inspiration for her movement.

Arab American Stories

Detroit Public Television highlights their local Arab American community in a series called Arab American Stories. This particular episode highlights the the strong link between the flavors of the diaspora within family recipes and cultural identity. From Detroit Public Television:

Chef Ali El Sayed's son Esmaeel is just beginning to understand how his father's Egyptian heritage fits in with his own identity as a native-born American living in ethnically diverse Queens, and the family recipes Kamal Al-Faqih learned from his mother led him to his calling as a chef and cookbook author.

In Passport: Jaddoland

From America ReFramed:

JADDOLAND is an intimate portrait of the work and process of visual artist Lahib Jaddo while offering a fresh look at the immigrant story in America. Through an exploration of Jaddo's art and connections to her life in Texas, the film also drafts a unique picture of how art can help both the creator and the audience make sense of familial and cultural connections, loss, perseverance and life.