About Sara Zia Ebrahimi

Persian bohemian, indie films cheerleader, Social Media Specialist at American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). Love to: write, read, sew, eat, cook, run.

Call for Submissions: Sexuality in the Middle East & North Africa

10268725_10152413692452518_5728592011980195161_nMuftah is putting together a Special Collection of articles exploring gender and sexual variance across the Arab and Muslim worlds and their diaspora communities. They are seeking well-written, interesting submissions of 1000 to 2000 words exploring the following topics:

  • transgender issues in the Arab and Muslim world, including health, surgical access, compulsory procedures, and legal status
  • migrant rights and the intersections of homophobia and xenophobia
  • Islam and new theologies of sexuality
  • Islamic feminism and the inclusion / exclusion of LGBTQ movements
  • the politicization and criminalization of nonnormative sexualities
  • “pinkwashing,” hegemonic queer cultures, and homonationalism as Islamophobia

This Special Collection will broaden popular, simplistic discourses about sexuality, gender, and feminism in the MENA region. They are particularly interested in articles which eschew Western conceptualizations of “LGBTQ” movements, and present local understandings of gender and sexuality in their own terms.

Submissions are due July 31, 2014.

Please email articles to submissions@muftah.org.

Free in Philadelphia this Sunday: Behind the Screen with Shawn Peters

Still-Standing-Stills-2Join BlackStar Film Festival’s Artistic Director Maori Karmael Holmes for a Behind the Screen conversation with renowned cinematographer Shawn Peters on the intersection between film, music, and art.

The Brooklyn-based Peters uses light and form to tell unique stories. He has been recently recognized for his work in the Sundance selected feature film An Oversimplification of Her Beauty as well as the documentary series The Triptych. He has been a sought after eye for music videos since he burst including collaborations with Pharoah Monch,Cody ChesnuTTGregory Porter, and Esperanza Spalding. Peters also serves as the consulting Performance Producer for the Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn.

The Barnes Foundation offers free admission and programming on the first Sunday of every month. Visitors are welcome to attend talks, performances, and hands-on activities throughout the day. Tickets are limited and cannot be reserved in advance; they are available on-site starting at 9 am. First Sundays, 10 am–6 pm; programming 1–4 pm.

Free tickets can be obtained on-site at The Barnes Foundation beginning at 9 am. Advance reservations are not available for Free First Sundays. This offer is limited to tickets for two adults and two children per transaction. Tickets are limited and available on a first come-first served basis. Tickets include access to the Collection gallery, special exhibition and any programming taking place that day.

Gnarly in Pink: 8 min documentary on a posse of 6 year old femme skateboarders

gnarlyI love the visual style of this 8 min documentary on the New York Times site. These six year olds are my kind of femme: paint your nails then jump on a skateboard while covered in glitter. I support my daughter however she chooses to express herself when she gets older, but I secretly won’t mind if she turns out like this. Not at all.


What I’m watching these days: High Maintenance web series

highmaintenance-reelgoodI’m watching more web series these days to get a sense of the elements of what makes them successful. On a recent episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour (one of my favorite podcasts) they mentioned this series High Maintenance, which follows a weed dealer on his adventures with hipsters in New York. These short segments are pretty satisfying in that there’s a predictable structure–main character makes a delivery and something funny happens there–and, most importantly: they are short.

The web series just got financed by Vimeo to do another season as part of their new initiative to invest $10 million in original programing through their site.

Here’s an episode:

Less affirmation, more failure: The Film Director’s Intuition

FilmDirIntuition_website_largeI’m wary of compulsive optimism, the idea that you have to always “turn your frown upside down” and be positive. I think it’s a damaging way to move through the world.

It’s no surprise that the first chapter of Judith Weston’s book The Film Director’s Intuition, which I started reading recently, resonated with me. Weston goes against the grain of affirmations and compulsive positive thinking, and offers what I find to be a much more useful model for approaching creative projects: permission to fail.



pgs 6-7

“If we approach a project declaring , ‘I trust myself. I’m going to nail it. I’m going to do it perfectly.”–that’s not trust, that’s bravado. And bravado is a form of denial; it’s pretending we’re not afraid when, in fact, we are. Denial is a little lie to ourselves. And when we lie to ourselves, we shut down our creativity.

If, on the other hand, our mindset is, “I trust that whatever I do will be worth trying”–that is, worth risking–we give ourselves permission to fail. Permission to fail is exactly the same as permission to learn.

“Transformers: The Premake” strings together 355 YouTube videos of the film’s shooting

transformersI became a fan of Kevin B. Lee’s video essays after learning about them last year at the Flaherty Seminar. Today he released a seemingly epic project Transformers: The Premakea 24 minute documentary that strings together 355 amateur YouTube videos of the shooting of the fourth Transformers movie.

Here’s the official description:

Transformers: Age of Extinction, the fourth installment of the Transformers movie franchise directed by Michael Bay, will be released June 27 2014. But on YouTube one can already access an immense trove of production footage recorded by amateurs in locations where the film was shot, such as Utah, Texas, Detroit, Chicago, Hong Kong and mainland China. Transformers: the Premake turns 355 YouTube videos into a critical investigation of the global big budget film industry, amateur video making, and the political economy of images.

Free “Trans Literary Salon” event this Thursday

In conjunction with the 2014 Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference, Leeway presents its Second Trans Literary Salon highlighting the work of emerging literary artists from a diversity of genres including poetry, fiction, memoir, and spoken word. The salon will feature readings from Annie Mok (ACG ’13), Dark Matter, Imogen Binnie, J Mase III (ACG ’07), and KOKUMỌ. Audience members are invited to bring work to share. Hosted by J Mase III. Thursday, June 12 from 7:30pm – 9:00pm at the Leeway Foundation (1315 Walnut Street, Suite 832). More details can be found here.

Chicken and Egg grant for female documentary makers now accepting applications

Pink Chicken and Egg logoChicken and Egg Pictures’ 2014 Summer Open Call is now open and accepting applications. They are looking for filmmakers with “powerful stories, unique access to their subjects, a collaborative spirit, and the courage to take creative risks.” Deadline to apply for the grant is June 17th. Review guidelines and FAQs at :http://www.chickeneggpics.org

POV’s 2015 call for entries open

pov-callforentries-200POV,  a PBS show featuring independent, nonfiction film, is now accepting submissions of films to be considered for inclusion in its annual broadcast series. All subjects, aesthetic approaches and lengths are welcomed. The submission deadline to be considered for the 2015 season is June 30, 2014. For more information click here.