Saudi American film maker and Cal State Fullerton alumni Fahmi Farahat screened his documentary yesterday at the Titan Student Union theater.
The CSUF Middle Eastern Student Society hosted the screening. Farahat graduated in 2006, but received his degree this summer in Radio-TV-Film.
Farahat began working on the documentary in his senior year and it wasn’t until after graduating that he dedicated his time solely to working on the film.
The documentary features Farahat, his friends and family.
Saudis In America is a film that delivers a variation of views that contradict from its characters, Farahat said.
“Being a Saudi in America as part of the society, I have something to say. There is a misinterpretation and this film informs people of reality,” Farahat said. “I wanted to show who Saudi in America are. They have image[s] of women covered and camels, but is that reality?”
Characters in the film express their feelings post September 11. Some Saudis feel affected by how they are viewed in American society and some feel indifferent, Farahat said.
“I asked them questions that Americans have about terrorism and oppressed women,” Farahat said.
With over 50 hours in interviews and footage, Farahat said his biggest challenge was editing the film to an hour running time.
Being a student at the time and working on the project while still learning was also a challenge for Farahat.
He said having guidance from his producer and professors facilitated the process of making his documentary.
“Characters were left out,” Farahat said. “My biggest challenge was making it all flow.”
Farahat submitted his documentary in a variety of film festivals, including the Arab film festival, and has received praise as well as a few negative feedback comments.
“I submitted it to a few festivals and was rejected,” Farahat said. “They asked me to cut certain characters out that gave a negative view, but I didn’t want to censor myself. Industry people and media gave me good feedback.”
Farahat’s next project is a feature film that is a multicultural Middle Eastern romantic comedy. He expects to produce it by the summer of 2009.
According the the film’s official Web site the movie deals with not just how Saudis are being treated, but it also focuses on the Saudis treat their own women. Farahat took his own camera to explore why Saudis have subjected their women to second citizen status.
The president of Middle Eastern Student Society, Nehal Shahin, said he hoped the film raised awareness of the bias that exists and dismantles the negative misconceptions.
Farahat said it meant a lot for him to come back to CSUF to show his own documentary in front of a captivated audience.
“This is where I got my start. I owe it a lot to this school. Anything I can do to give back to Cal State Fullerton I will do it,” Farahat said.