On September 11 2001, 19 hijackers flew American airplanes into the World Trade Center… 15 of them were from Saudi Arabia.
Since that tragic day, Saudis living in America came under scrutiny as many Americans wondered about Saudis; who are they; what are they doing in the US; do they hate America; do they support Osama Bin Laden; how do they feel about 9/11; and most importantly why do they oppress their women?
Saudi filmmaker Fahmi Farahat takes his camera and invites us into his own life in an attempt to answer these questions. He captures the views and attitudes of his family and friends, who are either living or visiting the US, through which he explores the many issues that surround Saudis in America.
The film is Produced by Ahmad Zahra and Executive Produced by Mohannad Malas. Other credits include Director of Photography John Taylor and Music Composer Vicente Avella who starts the opening sequence of the film with his own rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, a fusion of Arabic and Western style music. The film also features the song My Favorite Passages by Ani from her latest Album One.
A special screening of Fahmi Farahat s documentary, Saudis in America delighted a full house Sept. 8 at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. It is Farahat s first film, and offers promise of great things to come from this young artist.
The one-hour documentary deals with how Saudis living in the U.S. felt during the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, and also with the attitudes of Saudi women about how they are perceived by the West. Farahat miraculously brings the Saudi sense of humor to bear on this serious material, and the audience quickly identifies with the people interviewed.
In addition to interviewing Americans on the street about their views of Saudi Arabia, Farahat, who graduated in 2006 from the Radio, TV and Film department of California State University at Fullerton, ingeniously chose his family members and friends to tell the story of Saudis in America. We ve all heard scholars and theologians discuss the topic, I chose to let ordinary well, they re not ordinary to me Saudis talk about what it means to be a Saudi, he explained. In his opening remarks, producer Ahmad Zahra commented: We can t afford in our world today to wait for others to tell our stories or express how we feel. We need to take the initiative to do this. What matters is that we support each other s right of expression free of censorship and control. --Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, November 2007, pages 48-49