Filmmaker Rola Nashef finds inspiration for films within the Arab-American community – CW50 Detroit

Southfield (CW50) – The authentic stories of Arab Americans across the country are rarely seen in the film industry. Growing up, Rola Nashef noticed this trend and wanted to use her own experiences to change the narrative of Arab Americans in the media.

Nashef draws on her extensive background in the arts and her involvement in Detroit’s diverse communities as a catalyst for creative expression and storytelling. Nashef was born in Lebanon and raised in Michigan, and uses the stories of her life, the lives of her friends, and other community members to tell stories that are as authentic and accessible to as wide an audience as possible. His films have been described as thoughtful, hilarious, entertaining, and clever.

Scene from filmmaker Rola Nashef’s feature debut, Detroit Unleaded

Nashef’s award-winning feature debut, Detroit Unleaded, holds its place in American cinematic history as the first-ever Arab-American romantic comedy featuring second-generation Arab characters unique to Detroit & Dearborn. The film centers on a 24-hour Arab gas station in Detroit and is a new take on boy-meets-girl comedy. The film won the first Grolsch Film Works Discovery Award.

Scene from filmmaker Rola Nashef’s short Detroit Unleaded

The origins of the film date back to 2007 when, before his feature debut, Nashef released Detroit Unleaded, the 20-minute short version which has gained international recognition thanks to its official screenings at 26 film festivals.

Nashef set out to change the Arab American narrative and dispel community misconceptions through his films. Its international recognition has helped broaden the scope of daily life in Arab America.

Community Connect host Jackie Paige with filmmaker Rola Nashef

Filmmaker Rola Nashef joins Jackie Paige on Community Connect to talk about her use of authentic storytelling to portray Arab America in media. She also talks about dispelling the misconceptions of Arab Americans.

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Watch Community Connection, Saturday at 7 a.m. on CW50.

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