This year’s program showcases the work of leading Middle Eastern women artists that are working to expose and eradicate toxic masculinity at home, at work, and on the national stage. Featuring a presentation by Yemeni-American visual artist Yasmine Diaz about her collage series, One Way or Another; a dramatic reading by Atosa Melody Babaoff of the short story “White Torture” by Iranian author Farnoosh Moshiri; a performance by Lebanese-American singer Naima Shalhoub featuring music from her album Live in San Francisco County Jail; and an excerpt from the documentary film The Judge by Erika Cohn and Sara Maamouri about the Arab world’s first woman Sharia judge. After the presentations, Founding Artistic Director Torange Yeghiazarian will facilitate a conversation with the participating artists and the audience.
The Center for Middle Eastern Studies, UC Berkeley
Global Fund For Women
Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California
The Markaz: Resource Center, Stanford University
Women’s Voices Now
Atosa Melody Babaoff
Atosa Melody Babaoff
Atosa Melody Babaoff is a Resident Artist with Golden Thread Productions. She was just graduating from the American Conservatory Theater’s M.F.A. Program when she dove into her first Golden Thread production of Nine Armenians back in the early-2000s. She has worked with Golden Thread sporadically ever since, and this last experience with the ReOrient 2017 Festival left her feeling joyful and nourished as ever. She has also worked at A.C.T, Berkeley Rep, Magic Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, and was a company member of both Laura Arrington Dance and Liz Tenuto Dance and a Half, which led her to NYC twice for some amazing performances. She is a founding member of Affinity Project with Nora el Samahy, Beatrice Basso, and Emily Hoffman. They were recipients of grants/residencies that led them to perform with FoolsFURY and at YBCA. She has an abundant and lovely yoga career when not performing. She is grateful for all of the loved ones in her life who encourage her to keep pursuing all that she is passionate about, in art and in life.
With a focus on gender, bicultural identity, and family, Yasmine Diaz works with mixed media on paper, drawing, and collage to question and assert her unique experiences as a Yemeni-American artist and feminist. Born in Chicago to parents who immigrated from the highlands of Yafa in Yemen, the Los Angeles-based artist uses compelling found imagery to juxtapose the opposing cultures she was raised within. Her work has been featured in Deeyah Khan’s sister-hood Magazine, Kolaj Magazine, the Albuquerque Museum of Art, and in the collections of the UCLA School of Public Affairs. Diaz is a past fellow and current co-organizer of the at land’s edge fellowship program. yasminediaz.com
Sara Maamouri is a documentary filmmaker and editor who has explored a diverse range of topics for over 14 years. Her work has touched on social, educational and political issues, from a teacher and students performing under extraordinary circumstances (The Music’s Gonna Get You Through, 2010) and former enemies bound together through loss and discovery (In This Waiting, 2011) to rebuilding a life in a former war zone (Amal’s Garden, 2012). She co-produced and edited A Revolution in Four Seasons, which premiered at Hot Docs 2016 and was an honorable mention at Margaret Mead Film Festival 2016. She edited Twice Upon A Time, which premiered at Edinburgh Film Festival and won Best Documentary at the Lebanese Film Festival. She’s currently editing The Judge, the story of the first female Shari’a judge in Palestine directed by Erika Cohn, and We Are Not Princesses about Syrian refugee women in Beirut working on a production of Sophocles’s Antigone directed by Bridgette Auger. A multi-lingual Tunisian educated in New York and California, Sara brings international sensitivity to her editing, production and story development, while building transmedia narratives to enhance and further engage a constantly evolving audience base. saramaamouri.com
Farnoosh Moshiri is an award–winning author and librettist. Her writings include At the Wall of Almighty (Interlink 1999), The Bathhouse (Black Heron Press 2001, Beacon Press, 2002), The Crazy Dervish and the Pomegranate Tree (Black Heron Press 2004), Against Gravity (Penguin, 2006), and The Drum Tower (Black Heron Press 2014, Sandstone Press [U.K], 2014). She is a two–time recipient of the Barbara Deming Award and a recipient of the Valiente Award. The Houston Grand Opera commissioned Moshiri to write a libretto adapted from her short story, “The Bricklayer,” for a chamber Opera with the music of Gregory Spears. The opera premiered in 2012. Farnoosh fled Iran in 1983, and lived in refugee camps in Afghanistan and India for four years before emigrating to the U.S. in 1987. farnooshmoshiri.net
Naima Shalhoub is a Lebanese-American artist who uses music as a tool for transformation, liberation, education, and self-expression. Her dimensional work as a vocalist, composer, performing artist, and educator focuses on the expansive quality of the voice and its power for redemption and social justice. After receiving her M.A. in Postcolonial and Cultural Anthropology in 2008, she turned her focus to creation and performance in the Bay Area. In 2015, she recorded her debut album, Live in San Francisco County Jail, after a year of weekly “Music and Freedom” sessions with incarcerated women. In 2017, Naima toured Beirut, Lebanon, with a project titled NAMENA, building partnerships with local organizations and co-producing events that provide a platform to share creative responses to various forms of struggle. Naima released her EP titled Borderlands in Lebanon with a series of videos forthcoming about the project and music. naimashalhoub.com