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Brown student organizations host inaugural SWANA Film Series

Month-long series features weekly film screening, student discussion

<p>The Southwest Asian and North African Film Series at Brown began on Feb. 2 with a screening of short films and continued this week with a screening of &quot;Gabbeh.&quot;</p>

The Southwest Asian and North African Film Series at Brown began on Feb. 2 with a screening of short films and continued this week with a screening of "Gabbeh."

The inaugural Southwest Asian and North African Film Series at Brown, hosted by four student organizations, kicked off last week at the Salomon Center. The series includes weekly film screenings and student discussions.

The series is a collaboration between the SWANA Heritage Series, Brown Iranian Students Association, Brown Armenian Society and Brown-RISD Arab Society. The month-long event began with a screening of SWANA short films on Feb. 2.

The program continued Wednesday with a screening of “Gabbeh” by the Brown Iranian Students Association. Released in 1996, “Gabbeh” is an Iranian film exploring the life of a young girl who magically appears from an elderly couple’s gabbeh, a type of Persian carpet. 

Following the screening, hosts from the Brown Iranian Society arranged a student-led conversation for attendees to discuss the film. According to Armeen Golshan ’23, co-president of the Brown Iranian Student Association, “Gabbeh” is banned in Iran for being “too subversive,” he explained, which was a key point of discussion. 

Chloe Khosrowshahi ’22.5, co-president of BISA, noted the diversity of attendees at the discussion, which included both Iranian and non-Iranian students.  “The aftertalk was so enhancing,” Khosrowshahi said. “The conversation was robust and I liked the variety of perspectives.”

“Gabbeh” is “one of the most beautiful, magical films I’ve ever seen,” she added. “I’d really encourage anyone who shies away from foreign films .. to look into (them), because (there’s) a growing and thriving community” surrounding foreign films. 

Students and University community members attended the event, including Leila Kashani-Sabet ’22, one of the two programmers for the SWANA Heritage Series who organized the month-long event. 

The group aims to “acknowledge the multitude of experiences within SWANA and to bring out narratives … that aren’t always shared within the SWANA community or in Brown generally,” Kashani-Sabet said. 

“The film series is a way we can bring all of our different groups together,” added Nadeen Ibrahim ’23, co-programmer for the SWANA Heritage Series. 

According to Kashani-Sabet and Ibrahim, the film series was organized to create a sense of community among SWANA students at the University, especially given that SWANA recently became a branch in the Brown Center for Students of Color. 

“This collaboration was really important to us,” Kashani-Sabet said. “SWANA, as a group in the BCSC, has only been around for five or six years, so it’s a relatively new group on this campus.”

Ibrahim hopes that the film series will bring together SWANA students at Brown as a community and build recognition among the larger campus community.

“When I think of SWANA, I think of us wanting to have a voice,” Ibrahim said. “At a certain point, we have to create that for ourselves (and) for others to account for us and see us. One of the best ways to get there is to be (present) together as a whole community.”

The event will include two more screenings, according to a Feb. 9 Today@Brown announcement. The next event, a screening of “The Promise” by the Brown Armenian Society, will take place Wednesday, Feb. 12 in Salomon 001, followed by “The Square” by the Brown-RISD Arab Society later this month.


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