Referencing Philadelphia-based human rights attorney, Noura Erakat’s speech on November 3rd, 2023, during the protest in solidarity with Palestine, the title encapsulates the project’s concept and curatorial theme. Gathered is a film program, originally showing at three different Philadelphia venues (Asian Arts Initiative, Vox Populi Gallery, and Making Worlds Bookstore) featuring short films by contemporary independent women and LGBTQ+ Palestinian artists with topics exploring orientalism in the media, love stories, experimental films and queer narratives. With films oscillating between love and rage, the event is meant to create a cathartic grieving space for the South-West Asian North African (SWANA) and Palestinian community, as it faces constant grief and dehumanization, to remind us of not only the justification of our collective rage but to stand in awe of all that Palestinians are teaching us daily about love and community.

Batikh Batikh (BB) is a pop-up cinema and gallery that rents spaces to bring SWANA cinema to Philadelphia and exhibit solo exhibitions of local emerging SWANA women and queer artists. SWANA is a term used to replace the colonial term “the Middle East,” and more clearly recognizes the specific region and its diverse communities. BB was started in November of 2022 by filmmaker and curator Sarah Trad in a response to an alarming lack of SWANA programming both locally and internationally as well as censorship over pro-Palestinian voices. BB is run by SWANA women and queer artist volunteers and is based on a decolonial and anti-capitalist art model—all art is free to the public and featured artists are paid for their work. Proceeds accumulated during BB programming go directly back to artists or mutual aid requests. Batikh Batikh is named after the Arabic word for watermelon as a way to designate its programming as a safe and anti-Zionist space for its community.

Sarah Trad سارة طراد
Sarah Trad (she/her) is a Lebanese-American filmmaker and curator based in Philadelphia. Working in fibers, video, and computer art, she focuses on themes such as Arab American history, Arab representation, queerness, mental health, memory, and future alternate realities. She is currently the Co-Director of Programming for the MENA Film Festival in Vancouver, as well as a previous Juror for the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival and a Community Advisory Board member for the Asian Arts Initiative. Sarah’s work has been screened at the Gimli Film Festival, Toronto Arab Film Festival, Antimatter Media Art Festival, Rendezvous With Madness Festival, Everson Museum of Art, and Currents New Media.

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