2015 Arab Film Festival + Cinetopia

The Arab American National Museum is excited to be presenting the 2015 Arab Film Festival as part of the award-winning Cinetopia International Film Festival. That’s right, a film festival within a film festival. We’re awfully creative. The 2015 Arab Film Festival is also an important program within the Arab American National Museum’s tenth anniversary year programming schedule.

Cinetopia began on June 5 at the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit. We were pleased that one of our Arab Film Festival features served to kick off the festival program. That film was Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. Produced by Selma Hayek and featuring top talent such as Liam Neeson, this major film premiered at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. Our screening in Detroit is one of the first public screenings in the US. In fact, the opening night screening took place on the north lawn of the Detroit Institute of Arts. This animated film will have its official US debut in August. In addition to the screening at the DIA, we will also showing The Prophet in the Museum’s new Annex and at the historic Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor.

In sum, there are eight films as part of the Arab Film Festival. Other titles include the award-winning Wadjda – the first feature film from a female in Saudi Arabia – and Cherien Dabis’ May in the Summer.

There are five days left in the festival. Score yourself some tickets!

2015 Arab Film Festival Schedule
2015 Arab Film Festival Schedule

Extended media coverage:

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Maker: DIY Carbonation Rig

A thing of beauty. Forget the Soda Stream, this DIY carbonation rig is easy to make and it’s perfect for gassing up some bubbly. We build this rig in about an hour, which was mainly time spent purchasing the gear at our local homebrew supplies store. Check out the instructions.

An image of a Maker: DIY Carbonation Rig
Maker: DIY Carbonation Rig
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Selfies Not Selfies

I was digging through the AANM Flickr photostream and rediscovered a bunch of old photos of me. Having worked behind the camera for a fair amount of time, I’m still not entirely comfortable being in front of the lens. Here’s a quick photo dump of some of the more tolerable images. There’s plenty more that I wish would just disappear.

Devon and Dharma Akmon at the 2014 AANM Gala
2014 AANM Gala
Devon and Dharma Akmon at the 2014 AANM Gala
2014 AANM Gala
Devon Akmon and Chef Sameh Wadi
AANM Cultural Salon with Chef Sameh Wadi
Devon Akmon, Mr. Russell J. Ebeid, and NAB Chair Manal Saab commemorating the Russell J. Ebeid Library & Resource Center at the AANM
Devon Akmon, Mr. Russell J. Ebeid, and NAB Chair Manal Saab commemorating the Russell J. Ebeid Library & Resource Center at the AANM
Suma Rosen, Maha Freij, Manal Saab, and Devon Akmon with Russell J. Ebeid at the naming ceremony for the Russell J. Ebeid Library & Resource Center.
Suma Rosen, Maha Freij, Manal Saab, and Devon Akmon with Russell J. Ebeid at the naming ceremony for the Russell J. Ebeid Library & Resource Center.
Devon Akmon and Ismael Ahmed
2014 AANM Gala
Devon Akmon Speech
Ribbon cutting for the Russell J. Ebeid Library & Resource Center.
Crain's 40 Under 40 – Class of 2013 – Honoree: Devon Akmon
Crain’s 40 Under 40 – Class of 2013 Ceremony
Devon Akmon with Helen Thomas
Dinner with Helen.
Devon Akmon with Ralph Nader
Dinner with Nader.
Devon Akmon Concert of Colors
2014 Concert of Colors
Devon and Dharma Akmon with Chef Sameh Wadi
2014 AANM Gala
Devon Akmon Gala Speech
2014 AANM Gala
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AANM’s Anniversary Featured in Metromode

Thanks to Aaron Mondry and Metromode Media for the coverage of the Arab American National Museum’s upcoming tenth anniversary.

Dearborn, Mich. has the highest concentration of Arab Americans in the United States. The Arab American News, the largest and oldest Arab American newspaper in the country, is published there. The city’s police chief, Ronald Haddad, is Arab American.

Without question, Dearborn is the center of Arab American culture.

It’s no surprise, then, that the preeminent museum dedicated to documenting and preserving the Arab American story is located in Dearborn. The Arab American National Museum (AANM), the only Smithsonian Affiliate in Southeast Michigan, will celebrate its ten year anniversary this May. As part of the milestone, the museum will roll out a year-long series of events and renovations.

Here is a link to the full article.

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Symphony in D

I’ve served on the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Board of Trustees for approximately one-and-a-half years. In that time I’ve become much more acquainted with the work of the DSO and I’m quite impressed with the vision for becoming an innovative, 21st century symphony. Currently, there are many exciting new projects in the works. Perhaps the one I am most excited about is Symphony in D, which is a new collaboration with Tod Machover from the MIT Media Lab. The goal of this project is to create a collaborative symphony “by, for and with the people of Detroit.” The final composition, which will debut later this year, will feature notes and sounds that reflect the identity of the city.

What’s great about this project is that it is a collaboration with the people of Detroit. Anyone can contribute a sound they feel reflects the pulse of the city by uploading it at http://symphonyind.com/ or through the the Symphony in D app. What’s more, you can listen to the sounds uploaded by other contributors. Ultimately, Tod will synthesize the sounds into a symphony for the orchestra to perform.

This is not Tod’s first time developing such a project. In fact, he has created similar collaborative symphonies in Toronto, Edinburgh, Perth, and Lucerne. However, this is the first such collaborative project in the U.S. Speaking to this, I am really stoked it’s happening here in Detroit!

I had the pleasure of having meeting Tod last weekend during a dinner in Detroit. Tod is incredibly creative, affable, and curious, which bodes well for working with Detroit’s diverse population. I’m very much looking forward to watching this collaboration unfold. For now, my goal is to help liaise Tod with as many different communities that reflect the diversity of our region.

A picture of Tod and DSO representatives
Tod and DSO representatives

To learn more about the project, check out the following short video.

Also,to learn more about Tod, check out his TED Talk.

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Art X Detroit

The third biennial Art X Detroit returns on April 9. For the uninitiated:

Art X Detroit: Kresge Arts Experience (AXD) is a 10-day festival of dance, literary, musical & theatrical performances, film screenings, visual arts installations, workshops, panel discussions & interactive experiences. AXD presents works created by the 2013-2014 Kresge Eminent Artists and Artist Fellows. AXD will be hosted at multiple venues throughout Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center over a three-week period in April & is FREE to the public.

AXD is presented by The Kresge Foundation and produced by Midtown Detroit, Inc. AXD partners include: Kresge Arts in Detroit, College for Creative Studies, Creative Many, and MOCAD.

Dates: April 9-12, 16-19, and 25-26.

The Arab American National Museum is proud to sponsor two events as part of AXD. We’ll be supporting the sessions Rola Nashef, The Director’s Cut on April 16 at the Detroit Film Theatre, and Poetry and Music from Iraq (featuring Dunya Mikhail) on April 25 at MOCAD. Both Rola and Dunya are amazing artists. Further, they are both involved with several Arab American National Museum programs, including DIWAN6: A Forum for the Arts, which will take place on May 8-9, 2015.

Flyer for Rola Nashef, The Director's Cut- AXD
Rola Nashef, The Director’s Cut- AXD
Flyer for Poetry and Music - AXD
Poetry and Music – AXD
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2015 Knight Arts Challenge Q/A Sessions

The Knight Arts Challenge has done an amazing job of investing in arts initiatives throughout the metropolitan Detroit region. Starting Monday, March 16, interested parties can apply for a share of $3 million as part of the 2015 Challenge, which funds ideas for engaging and enriching Detroit through the arts.

The deadline for the challenge, a project of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, is April 13. Thus far in Detroit, the Knight Arts Challenge has awarded 114 winners about $5 million.

The Knight Foundation will host a launch party and a series of community Q&A sessions throughout Detroit to answer applicants’ questions. The Arab American National Museum is pleased to host an information session on Monday, March 23 at 6 p.m. Hope to see you there!

Flyer for the 2015 Knight Arts Challenge
2015 Knight Arts Challenge
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2015 Kresge Eminent Artist Award Winner…Ruth Adler Schnee!

As a member of the Kresge Arts in Detroit Advisory Council, one of our responsibilities is to select the Kresge Eminent Artist Award recipient. Choosing one artist to bestow the title of Eminent Artist is no easy task given the amazing talent in our region. However, the 2015 winner – Ruth Adler Schnee – is a most deserving awardee. An immigrant. A pioneer. An innovator. A celebrated designer.

From the Kresge Foundation’s press release:

Schnee joins six other artists who, since 2008, have received the Kresge Eminent Artist award recognition of professional achievements, contributions to metropolitan Detroit’s cultural community and dedication to Detroit and its residents. The award includes a $50,000 prize.

Schnee’s work elevated Michigan’s stature in modern design and architecture. She worked on the General Motors Technical Center in Warren (with architect Eero Saarinen in 1950-55), the World Trade Center (with Minoru Yamasaki in 1970-77) and the update of Albert Kahn’s Ford Rotunda in Dearborn, which she worked on in 1952-53. The Adler-Schnee store in Detroit – a partnership with her late husband, Edward Schnee – opened in 1948 as one of the first shops in the nation to sell modern home fabrics and furnishings to the public. She still designs custom fabrics for KnollTextiles, where she holds a 20-year contract, and Anzea Textiles, an upholstery company.

At 91, she continues to work most of the year from her studio in Southfield, a suburb of Detroit.

Congratulations Ruth Adler Schnee! Head over to the KAD blog to learn more about Schnee.

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