The mission of the Arab Film Festival (AFF) is to enhance public understanding of Arab culture and to provide alternative representations of Arabs that contradict the stereotypical images frequently encountered in the American mass media. The Arab Film Festival screens films from and about the Arab World that provide realistic perspectives on Arab people, culture, art, history and politics.
Board of Directors
Jess Ghannam, President
Jess Ghannam is a clinical professor and the Chief of Medical Psychology at the University of California, San Francisco. He also practices at the UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center. Ghannam earned his Master’s and Doctorate in Psychology at UC-Berkeley in 1981 and 1984, respectively, and a Masters in Medical Sciences at UC-Berkeley in 1983.
Ghannam is the former president of the San Francisco chapter of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, as well as a member of the international executive committee of Al-Awda, the Right to Return Coalition. Ghannam was also associate producer of the documentary Until when…, which examines the plight of Palestinian refugees. He is currently President of the Arab Cultural and Community Center in San Francisco and Co-Hosts a weekly radio show called “Arab Talk” on KPOO.
Emily Katz Kishawi
Emily Katz Kishawi has enjoyed fifteen years of senior non-profit management and volunteer activism in women’s rights, philanthropic and social justice organizations. For the last five years, Emily has provided communications, fundraising and organizational development consulting to philanthropy, social justice and cultural organizations.
Results of Emily’s consulting services include: messaging campaigns that engage key audiences in a call to action, campaigns to deepen brand identity and establish online engagement, and strategic planning and proposals which consistently attract new, increased and multi-year funding. Prior to consulting, Emily headed communications for an international network of women’s foundations, the Women’s Funding Network.
Born in Beirut to Palestinian parents, Jumana moved to the US after completing her BSEE degree in Electrical Engineering at the American University of Beirut. She received her Master in Computer Engineering from Syracuse University and has held several positions at high-tech companies in the US. A senior manager at Synopsys, Inc, Jumana has extensive experience in managing cross-functional global teams in the US, Asia and Europe and leads product strategic planning and execution. Jumana was a founding member of the Arab Film Festival and directed the festival in its first year. She has also co-hosted a monthly Arabic music radio program for 3 years, broadcasting throughout the Bay Area. Jumana has been involved in a variety of cultural and political activities in the Bay Area, some of which involved media interviews and events surrounding Dheisheh Palestinian refugees for promoting their messages to a broader audience in the US. She also spent time working as a volunteer in refugee camps in Lebanon and Palestine coordinating children’s summer activities. Jumana currently resides in San Francisco, California.
Shadi has been actively engaged in political, civic, and philanthropic affairs throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. He initiated the first citywide celebration of Arab Heritage Month, which recognizes and celebrates the local Arab American community in San Francisco. Elkarra worked for the United Nations Development Progamme focusing on Democratic Governance in the Middle East & North Africa and most recently oversaw the development and implementation of city programs and initiatives for the Office of Mayor Edwin M. Lee. Elkarra, a San Francisco native, holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley.
Mariam has a background in biomedical engineering, and a passion for Arab arts and culture. She has over fourteen years of leadership experience developing technology and building innovation centers in medical device and biotechnology sectors. Mariam holds a B.S. degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering, with an emphasis on Micro and Nanotechnology from University of California Davis. She also earned dual MBA degrees from Columbia Business School and the University Of California Berkeley Haas School Of Business. Mariam has also been an active member of the Bay Area Arab community. She founded the Arab Community Tutoring program, supporting young Arabs with culturally relevant academic enrichment. She was also a founding member of the Al-Juthoor Dabkeh troupe, a community-based folkdance group aimed at spreading awareness about Palestinian culture and art and empowering the Arab community.
Ghada Saliba-Malouf, Managing Counsel
Ms. Saliba-Malouf has been involved in community causes for a number of years. She was appointed to the San Francisco Human Rights Commission (HRC) by Mayor Frank Jordan in 1995 and re-appointed by Mayor Willie L. Brown in 1996 where she served for eight years. She was Chair of the Commission from1999-2003. Her work on the Commission involved initiation of a progressive legislative agenda for the City and County of San Francisco which involved a number of civil rights initiatives such as the City’s Minority, Women and Local Business Enterprise Ordinance wherein Arab Americans were recognized as a minority for the first time in the United States. In addition, she sponsored and co-chaired a historic joint hearing by the HRC and the Social Policy Committee of the Board of Supervisors in January 2002 titled “backlash, violence, human rights violations and discrimination against the Middle Eastern communities in the wake of September 11, 2001.”
Ms. Saliba-Malouf received her BA in Legal Studies from the University of California at Berkeley and her JD from Golden Gate University. Ghada is married and has a seven year old daughter.
Hany Abu-Assad, Director
Asaad Kelada, Director
Rashid Khalidi, Ph.D., Historian
Tony Shalhoub, Actor
Kathy Najimy, Actor
Jack Shaheen, Ph.D., Media Critic
Naomi Shihab Nye, Author and Poet
Mario Kassar, Producer
Joan Widdifield, Ph.D., Filmmaker
Mhamed Ibnabdeljalil, Ph.D., Entrepreneur
Dina Saba, Founder
Peter Boyle, Arab Film Festival Legal Advisor
Kathy Saade Kenny
Serge Bakalian, Executive Director
Angela Ramsey, Program Director
Active in the Arab arts community, Angela performs as an Arabic violinist in LA and the Bay Area with internationally renowned artists from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Tunisia in venues such as the Palace of Fine Arts, Arab Heritage Month at San Francisco’s City Hall, and on KPFA’s “Voices of the Middle East and North Africa.” Since joining AFF in 2010, Angela has put her arts management skills to use with filmmakers, Selection Committee, Jury and screenings.
Sharif Ezzat, Design Director