Past Event

The (R)evolution of Arab Queer Cinema: Queer Representation in Film Pre- and Post-Arab Uprisings

October 2, 2019
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
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Columbia University, Katharina Screening Room, Lenfest Center for the Arts
Amman poster

Challenging the rules that have governed the Arab region for decades, Arab queer filmmakers are adopting creative, non-conventional approaches to share their stories, building pathways between otherwise isolated minorities. In the wake of the Arab Spring, they have stepped forward to take part in a transnational dialogue on democracy, liberty and reform, hoping to shape the way towards equality and recognition of LGBTQ rights in the region.

This panel will engage five emerging LGBTQ filmmakers from the Arab world in a meaningful discussion on the role of Arab queer cinema in shaping and giving voice to the Arab LGBTQ community. Panelists will explore how emerging Arab queer cinema is engaging with the region’s turbulent socio-political arena, while drawing on their personal journeys, creative expressions, and motivations.

Recognizing the agency of Arab queer filmmakers through cinema, this event will explore how LGBTQ issues are being represented in popular Arabic culture, and how their work is being received by local and regional audiences.




Anthony Chidiac

Anthony is an independent film artist based in Beirut. His works include Equal men and Maman, non, merci. His latest work, Room for a man, premiered at the Montreal International Documentary Festival where it was awarded the grand prize for international competition, as well as being awarded best film in Queer Lisboa and Queer Hamburg in 2018.


Cyrine Hammemi

Cyrine is a 25-year-old audiovisual production graduate student and human rights activist based in Tunisia. In 2019, she coordinated Mawjoudin (We Exist) in Tunisia, the only queer film festival in the Arab world. Cyrine is an active member of Mawjoudin’s grassroots organization.


Sam Abbas

Sam is an Egyptian writer, director and producer. He and his business partner launched the first ever Arab-based LGBTQ-focused production company, ArabQ Films, during the 2018 Berlin film festival. The Wedding was his debut feature film and the first ArabQ title. Sam is currently working on his new feature, Alia’s Birth.


Rolla Selbak

Rolla is a writer/director of film and TV drama and a Sundance alumna. Her most recent credits include American Paradise, Three Veils, and Choke. She has served on the Board of Directors of Outfest, home to the largest LGBT International Film Festival in the world.


Moderated by


Samar Habib

Samar Habib is a scholar of gender and sexuality in the Arab world. Her seminal publications on same-sex love and desire among women in the Middle East and North Africa include Female Homosexuality in the Middle East (2007), Arabo-Islamic Texts on Female Homosexuality (2008), and the two-volume, edited collection Islam and Homosexuality (2009).


Introduction by


Safwan M. Masri

Safwan Masri is Executive Vice President for Global Centers and Global Development at Columbia University and a Senior Research Scholar at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs. A scholar on education and contemporary geopolitics and society in the Arab world, his work focuses on understanding the historic, postcolonial dynamics among religion, education, society, and politics. He is the author of Tunisia: An Arab Anomaly (Columbia University Press, 2017).



This event is part of a year-long 10 event series celebrating the Columbia Global Centers' 10th anniversary. Click here to learn about the other events in this series.