2015 Arab Film Festival + Cinetopia

The Arab American National Museum is excited to be presenting the 2015 Arab Film Festival as part of the award-winning Cinetopia International Film Festival. That’s right, a film festival within a film festival. We’re awfully creative. The 2015 Arab Film Festival is also an important program within the Arab American National Museum’s tenth anniversary year programming schedule.

Cinetopia began on June 5 at the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit. We were pleased that one of our Arab Film Festival features served to kick off the festival program. That film was Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. Produced by Selma Hayek and featuring top talent such as Liam Neeson, this major film premiered at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. Our screening in Detroit is one of the first public screenings in the US. In fact, the opening night screening took place on the north lawn of the Detroit Institute of Arts. This animated film will have its official US debut in August. In addition to the screening at the DIA, we will also showing The Prophet in the Museum’s new Annex and at the historic Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor.

In sum, there are eight films as part of the Arab Film Festival. Other titles include the award-winning Wadjda – the first feature film from a female in Saudi Arabia – and Cherien Dabis’ May in the Summer.

There are five days left in the festival. Score yourself some tickets!

2015 Arab Film Festival Schedule
2015 Arab Film Festival Schedule

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Governor Rick Snyder Visits the Arab American National Museum

On monday, Governor Rick Snyder spent half a day visiting the Arab American National Museum. We were pleased the governor spent so much time learning about our institution and the communities we serve.

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Almost Famous

Big ups to Eastern Michigan University for featuring me in the I am TRUEMU alumni campaign. Glad to see those grad school dollars are paying off!

Brand new TRUEMU light-post banners are going up around campus. There will be 100 banners featuring 62 alumni. Each EMU alumni choose an individual power statement and photo showcasing their success and career post graduation. This next phase of the TRUEMU marketing campaign, follows faculty and student campaigns.

 

TRUEMU Banner of Devon Akmon
TRUEMU Banner in Ypsilanti
Devon Akmon's picture on the TRUEMU campaign
TRUEMU
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Detroit Resurgent

Late last year I had the honor of being photographed by the noted French photographer Gilles Perrin for an exhibit called Detroit Resurgent. I am humbled and honored to be included in this exhibit, which is on display at the MSU Museum through January 2014. The exhibition will travel to Detroit and will be hosted at the MSU Detroit Center from May-December 2014. Here’s more on the exhibition:

Detroit Resurgent is an exhibition that runs from September 8, 2013 through January 12, 2014 and a book that will be released by the MSU Press in April 2014. Through photographic portraits, interviews, essays and poetry it demonstrates the vitality and humanity of the people of Detroit and provides a powerful counter-narrative to the vision of Detroit as a Rust Belt wasteland.

Portraits of the Motor City, the centerpiece of Detroit Resurgent, is based upon the MSU Museum’s commission of French photographer Gilles Perrin to make a series of portraits over a three-week period in 2012 and have Nicole Ewenczyk, his wife, record interviews with each subject.

Sixty-two portraits, sixty-four people in photographs and their own words. People from all walks of life, ages, and ethnicities; these are the people whose stories of vision, hope, frustration, joy, courage, and renewal represent the greatness of Detroit past, present, and future. These people are the ones who breathe life into an often-maligned and frequently misunderstood city.

Factory workers, autoworkers to business executives, artists, entrepreneurs, developers, community activists, union organizers, community bankers, social-justice advocates, urban farmers, cultural and political leaders, doctors and community health workers, lawyers, journalists, poets, musicians, educators, religious leaders, and steelworkers: these are the people of Detroit whose expansive humanity is poignantly captured through Gilles Perrin’s sensitive portraits and Nicole Ewenczyk’s insightful interviews. These are the people moving Detroit forward, remaking Detroit for the twenty-first century. These are the people of today’s Motor City.

An image of the Detroit Resurgent exhibit card
Detroit Resurgent
Gilles Perrin Portrait of Devon Akmon
Gilles Perrin Portrait of Devon Akmon
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Featured in Crain’s Detroit Business’ Annual Giving Guide

The Arab American National Museum was featured in the 2013 Giving Guide, published by Crain’s Detroit Business. Here I discuss our goal of building the endowment to $10 million by 2017. Exit strategy: More nonprofits, donors turn to endowments for lasting impact

“Through the recession, we learned arts and culture was not the No. 1 priority for certain foundations and corporations,” said Devon Akmon, director of the Arab American National Museum. Endowment “is a way of building a more sustainable future. … It’s a bank of money we know will be there … unrestricted funds which provide a certain level of freedom and, in many ways, it’s guaranteed.”

An image from Crain's Detroit Business
Building The Endowment
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40 Under 40

I’m honored to be recognized by Crain’s Business Detroit as one of the 2013 “40 Under 40” business leaders.

Since 1991, Crain’s Detroit Business has honored 40 of the community’s high achievers with its 40 under 40 awards. This year’s winners launched companies, helped grow established firms, created products, swung international deals, improved health care and aided nonprofits. The goal is to honor the best and brightest in Southeast Michigan who have made their marks in business before age 40.

Led by Crain’s enterprise editor Bill Shea, a team of reporters and editors evaluated more than 300 nominees and vetted them with industry sources and references to develop our final list.

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40 Under 40
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Alternative Spring Break Detroit

Today, I had the pleasure of serving on a panel that explored race and diversity in metropolitan Detroit. The panel was organized by the Detroit Orientation Institute (DOI) for Wayne State University’s Alternative Spring Break Detroit (ASBD). I’ve served on similar panels in the past for the DOI, but this one was unique in that the audience was made up of undergraduate students that willingly gave up their spring break to participate in an educational program in the town where they go to school. Amazing, right? The ASBD program seeks to facilitate a greater understanding of, and appreciation for, Detroit. The weeklong program brings together approximately 52 students and it includes educational programs and volunteer service. Our panel this morning included representatives from the Asian, Latino, Jewish, Arab and African American communities.

My hat goes off to all of the students who participate in this program. The cohort was engaging and curious, and they presented myself and the other panelist with intelligent questions. I had several students approach me following the discussion to inquire about volunteer opportunities with our nonprofit organization. I hope I inspired these young people half as much as they inspired me!

A Tweet from an ASBD participant
A Tweet from an ASBD participant
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George Takei and Bothaina Kamel Visit the AANM

I love finishing the work week on a positive note. Yesterday, in addition to hosting students from the University of Michigan’s graduate program in Museum Studies, the AANM received a pair of prominent visitors. First, a dear friend of the AANM brought Bothaina Kamel – Egyptian television anchor, activist, and politician – to the museum for a tour. Kamel, a celebrity in her homeland, is the first woman to run for the presidency of Egypt. She was pleased with her visit and had nothing but praise for our institution.

Additionally, George Takei toured the museum and spent time talking with staff. Takei is best known for his roles as Hikaru Sulu on Star Trek. Additionally, he is a human rights activist and a huge supporter of our sister institution, the Japanese American National Museum. Takei impressed me with his intelligence, candor and humor. He’s played a significant role in the past when the AANM was consulting with the JANM during the development phase of our institution. This was his first time actually seeing our museum. The timing of Takei’s visit was perfect, giving that we are currently hosting the JANM’s exhibit, Fighting for Democracy, in a temporary gallery. It was great sharing ideas about museums and discussing the roles our institutions play within their communities. Once again I was reminded of the special relationship that exists between the Japanese American and Arab American communities.

A big thanks to staff for making these visits a success. I am so proud to work with colleagues that take their jobs seriously and show initiative. They are the reason we continue to succeed as a new museum.

George Takei visits the AANM
George Takei visits the AANM
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