Friday, October 21, 2011

mizna +

My sister, Lana, is the Executive and Artistic Director of Mizna.  She's so ridiculously amazing, and so
is Mizna! Literary journals are so cool, I hope they never go out of style...or more importantly, print!
And Mizna is so much more than just a journal...
Check it out:

Marhaba Mizna friends!
Lana Barkawi
Wondering who's been behind these Mizna e-mails lately? This is Lana Barkawi, Mizna's Executive and Artistic Director. After a whirlwind six months on the job, I'm taking a moment to catch my breath and wanted to, finally, introduce myself to you properly. I was hired as Mizna's new director in March, after having been a Mizna board member and the editor of our award-winning journal, Mizna: Prose, Poetry, and Art Exploring Arab America,for eight years. 

Under the leadership of Mizna's co-founder and first executive director Kathryn Haddad, Mizna's cultural programming has grown to include literary, theater, and music events, as well as six Arab American film festivals. The breadth of the programming reflects the diversity of the Arab American community locally and also on a national and global level. Kathy left Mizna in 2010 to focus on her own writing pursuits, and as many of you know, she recently finished the successful debut run of her new play, "Zafira, The Olive Oil Warrior," produced by Pangea World Theater, and staged at Heart of the Beast Theater in Minneapolis. We at Mizna were proud to co-sponsor discussions and workshops associated with the production.

Having worked for many years with Kathy, I know how vital and precious an organization this is, and I'm honored to now be working with the board and the staff to continue to see it flourish. In all forms of mass media, Arabs and Arab Americans are so often written and spoken about by others, but through Mizna, writers and artists have a forum to tell their own stories and reflect on their own experiences, whether they focus on Arab and Arab American themes, or not. 

Since I signed on with Mizna, we have had a flurry of activity! We published the 24th issue of our literary journal and held a scintillating journal release event. In July, we presented a workshop production of Noor Theatre's "Food and Fadwa" before it premieres off-Broadway in 2012. We also co-presented a number of other wonderful events with our friends at the Loft Literary Center, Pangea World Theater, the APIA Spoken Word and Poetry Summit, and with artist and activist Flo Razowsky. And, we have continued our excellent Arabic language classes with our new instructor, Sondes Douzi Wooldridge. 

And next up? Mark your calendars for Mizna's 7th Twin Cities Arab Film Festival November 10 to 13 at the historic Heights Theatre! Ours is the largest Arab film festival in the Upper Midwest, and the majority of the films we screen are Minnesota, and often regional, premieres. Curator Rami Azzazi and festival director Marya Morstad have been preparing a wide-ranging and thought-provoking selection of films. From opening night featuring 18 Days, a collection of short narratives about the Egyptian revolution, to closing night with Elia Suleiman's moving The Time That Remains, this will be a festival not to be missed.

In order to pull off this ambitious festival, we need your help!We are preparing to launch a 10-day online fundraising campaign through IndieGoGo this Wednesday, October 19th. I hope you will consider helping us to close our festival funding gap, and to make this the best one yet! As a thank you to our donors and sponsors, we are planning a Film Festival Fête on the eve of the festival at the fabulous Saffron Restaurant and Lounge. Award-winning Palestinian chef Sameh Wadi will prepare an hors d'ouevres mezze, along with one of his signature cocktails. Please plan on contributing to our fundraiser and on spreading the word. Stay tuned for details about how to donate-we can't do it without you!

As a Palestinian American, I know how powerful it is for our community to have an outlet for creative, challenging expression. To read a short story or see a film that reflects the truth and breadth of Arab America is a rare experience. I am so proud to be serving the mission of this important organization that provides such experiences. Please contact me any time with your thoughts and feedback.

With gratitude,

Lana Barkawi
Executive and Artistic Director
(612) 788-6920

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