2018 Action Project – American-Egyptian Independent Film Festival (AEI Film Fest)


Marwa Abdalla Elsayed and Allison Feikes

The Challenge

There is a lack of understanding of American and Egyptian cultures resulting from false media rhetoric, a new wave of Islamophobia, and a lack of interest in the other. To spur interest in realities on the ground in both countries and counter stereotypes perpetuated by the media in both countries, the team will screen independent films at various locations across the two countries to show a wide array of audiences the true Egyptian and American experience.

Project Overview

The American independent films will be shown in Cairo, Alexandria, and Beni-Suef, while the Egyptian independent films will be shown in New Jersey, New York, and Washington, DC. The films will be secured through a call out message and through various film contacts of the team in the United States and Egypt.  By working with partners like NeueHouse in New York City and American University in Cairo, the team will create an aggressive outreach campaign to attract participants.

The Goal

The films will educate Egyptians and Americans on life, culture, art, and society in the other country, generating genuine interest and further exploration. In order to measure attitudinal and perception changes, surveys will be disseminated after each film screening.

Population Served

Through six film screenings (three in each country), a diverse population will be served. In New York, an Egyptian film will be screened at NeueHouse, a private workspace for creatives and entrepreneurs, attracting working professionals in the film and art industries. In New Jersey, the film will be screened at Drew University, attracting students, mostly from the Center on Religion, Culture, and Conflict. The final screening will be at the Egyptian Embassy in Washington, DC for international security, policy, and diplomacy professionals.  The same target audiences will be mirrored in Egypt. The screening at the American University Cairo or Beni-Suef University will primarily target students. Egyptian professionals in foreign policy will be invited to a screening at the US Embassy. Finally, the screening at the Library of Alexandria will attract researchers and professors of humanities and culture.

Project Milestones

Phase 1: Film Selection and Location Scouting

The project team will choose the films to be screened and the location of each viewing will be secured.

Phase 2: Media Creation

The team will create an aggressive outreach campaign using technologies including Eventbrite, Canva, and social media. Flyers will be distributed at similar events prior to the spring screenings.

Phase 3: Film Screenings 

The film screenings will take place over a 6-week period, alternating between each country every   other week.

Expected Outcome

  • Show 6 independent films to small audiences (approximately 100 attendees at each showing), with 3 showings in the United States and 3 in Egypt.
  • Educate the audience on daily realities in each country, spurring conversation and ongoing dialogue.
  • Inspire an interest in further learning and exploration in each country and the broader regions in which they reside.

Furthering the Foundation’s Mission

The Gabr Fellowship has its origins in the study and appreciation of Orientalist art, which brought Western artists to the Middle East to depict daily life through their works. The film screenings will carry on this tradition by introducing film as a medium for improved intercultural understanding. Media is a powerful tool — especially in today’s hyperconnected environment. Through the selected films and the subsequent discussions and questionnaire following the viewing, ordinary Americans and Egyptians will be exposed to new ideas that can challenge preconceived notions and misperceptions. This project, much like the Gabr Fellowship itself, is open to anyone with a passion for knowledge and exploration.