“A Thousand and One Journeys: The Arab Americans” Chicago premiere

“A Thousand and One Journeys: The Arab Americans” Chicago premiere
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“A Thousand and One Journeys: The Arab Americans” to premiere on American television on WTTW Channel 11 in Chicago on Tuesday, June 7 at 7:30 pm

“A Thousand and One Journeys: The Arab Americans,” touted as the first historical full-length documentary about Arab Americans produced in United States, will make its American television premiere on WTTW11 in Chicago on Tuesday, June 7 at 7:30 pm. The live broadcast will include an interview with the film’s creator, director and producer Abe Kasbo.

The film took eight years to produce and was shot in 11 states in order to chronicle the Arab-American experience and history, and showcases prominent and everyday Arab Americans over the span of American history, it’s producers said.

In his inaugural debut as producer and director, Abe Kasbo’s timely new film vividly paints a portrait of the Arab-American immigrant experience through the stories of people who came to the United States hoping to find the American dream, including Senator George Mitchell, actor Jamie Farr, Presidential candidate and consumer advocate Ralph Nader, General John Abizaid, Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Shadid, former White House reporter Helen Thomas, Indianapolis 500 legend Bobby Rahal, actor and founder of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Danny Thomas, Congressman Nick Rahall, and others.

The Arabic Dancers of the Toledo Mosque, circa 1969-70, from the film “A Thousand and One Journeys: The Arab Americans.” Credit Zeitoune FilmWorks/The Islamic Center of Greater Toledo. Photo courtesy of Abe Kasho

The Arabic Dancers of the Toledo Mosque, circa 1969-70, from the film “A Thousand and One Journeys: The Arab Americans.” Credit Zeitoune FilmWorks/The Islamic Center of Greater Toledo. Photo courtesy of Abe Kasbo

“A Thousand and One Journeys: The Arab Americans” places the Arab-American immigrant experience within the context of American history and experience, telling the untold story of almost 150 years of enrichment of the American fabric by immigrants from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula to the United States. The documentary explores early and multiple waves of immigration, along with the tremendous impact of 9/11 on the Arab American community and its challenges and dreams in light of the zeitgeist.

The documentary had its North American theatrical premiere at FilmFest /Arabian Sights Film Festival DC in October 2015 to a sell-out audience, and more recently also attracted a sell-out crowd in New York City on December 6, 2015. In March 2016, it garnered a “Best Home Grown Documentary Feature” award at the New Jersey Film Festival in Atlantic City. In 2016, the film has played for packed audiences at screenings in Toledo, OH; Utica, NY; Houston, TX; and South Orange, Little Falls and Paterson, NJ. Requests for screenings are coming from Argentina, Canada, Lebanon, England, and the United Arab Emirates.

Audience reaction:

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“Your work is so important to not forget the melodic sounds in all this cacophony of loud shrieks. So, thank you for doing your part in taking charge of the narrative. I hope lots of people will hear you!!!”

“Incredibly powerful reminder of American history and the contributions of all Americans.”

“Abe Kasbo’s new film A Thousand and One Journeys: The Arab Americans clearly and beautifully exemplifies what so many people, of any nationality, experienced immigrating to the U.S. His documentary is about what being American is all about.”

“The timeliness of this film’s completion, with current world events, only speaks louder of what we all need to keep in mind about who we are as Americans and citizens of humanity.”

As director Abe Kasbo put it, “The Arab-American experience is truly an American story. Just like Polish and Italian Americans, the immigration of Arabic speaking people to the United States and their evolution into integral, productive citizens is a purely American phenomenon. As Americans, we can only complete our story when we recognize everyone else’s story.”

About Abe Kasbo

Director/producer Abe Kasbo grew up in Aleppo, Syria, where he played cowboys and Indians with his friends on the city’s bustling streets. He was fascinated by American and American values when as a child, he watched The Virginian and Little House on the Prairie subtitled in Arabic, and read Superman and Batman comics in his native tongue. He immigrated to the United States in 1980 and settled in Paterson, NJ. He credits Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard) and The Fonz (Henry Winkler) on the hit series Happy Days along with Melissa Gilbert and the cast of Little House on the Prairie for helping him learn English in his first year in America. Abe is CEO of Verasoni Worldwide, a marketing and public relations firm in Montclair, NJ. He resides in West Caldwell, NJ with his wife Anna and daughter Sofia and son Nicolas.

Foundation support for the film: John Templeton Foundation, The Victor Machuga Foundation.

To learn more about the documentary, please visit arabamericandoc.com.

About WTTW

WTTW is a premier public media organization committed to creating and presenting unique television and digital media content across four distinct television channels – WTTW11, WTTW Prime, the Spanish-language channel WTTW Vme, and WTTW Create/WTTW WORLD, and on wttw.com. Recognized for award-winning local and national productions such as Chicago Tonight, Check, Please!, Soundstage, and MEXICO – One Plate at a Time, WTTW presents the very best in public affairs, arts and culture, nature and science, history and documentary, and children’s programming to 2 million weekly viewers across a four state area. Visitors to wttw.com can connect with others in the community and access a full library of local and national video content for kids and adults, interactive features, event and membership opportunities, and robust microsites dedicated to WTTW and PBS series and specials. Connect with WTTW on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

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Managing Writer at The Arab Daily News
RAY HANANIA — Columnist

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, the TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appeare in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

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2 comments on ““A Thousand and One Journeys: The Arab Americans” Chicago premiere
  1. NOTES from the WTTW broadcast

    1902 Nicola Raha left his village in Lebanon immigrated to America and settled in West Virginia.

    The Arab Americans
    A film by Abe Kasbo

    Chaldean Catholic priest from Iraq came in the 1600s … but real migration 1880 to 1924 … early Syrian immigrants from Aleppo, Damascus, Lebanon

    Interviews with Ralph Nader, Philip Kayal (from Aleppo) (Seton Hall University professor)

    Locust infestation of food stuffs pushed the first migration of Christian Arabs from Lebanon and Syria

    Gen John Abizaid (Ret), family moved to Boston

    Many Arab immigrants were identified as Turks, Greeks (because of the Ottoman Empire)

    Anthony Shadid interview

    Many immigrants changed or had their names changed by the immigration officers at Ellis Island

    Jamie Farr (Farrah Aboud, his father …) so they gave him the last name “Farr”

    “Little Syria,” Washington Street, in New York … in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century

    Al-Hoda (The Guidance) first Arab newspaper in America

    Created Syrian owned clothing manufacturing stores and industries in New York and New Jersey

    Nick Rahall spoke about his grand parents coming to America and sell door-to-door

    Suri Kasirer, consultant

    Many Arabs moved into the Syrian Jewish community in New York

    500 families from Kassim in Lebanon settled in Waterville, Maine at end of 19th Century
    Former Senator George Mitchell, his mother was from Kassim and came to Waterville. She worked the overnight shift in the textile mills

    200 Syrians went to Oklahoma at turn of the century including the family of Anthony Shadid

    Jamie Farr’s father and uncle went to Montana, and then settled in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. His grandfather was a grocer in Cedar Rapids. Jamie was the only one born in Toledo, Ohio

    Khalil Gibran Boston, 2nd largest Syrian population in American in early 20th Century (1920s).

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