Photo: Architizer

Middle East Film Initiative

(Formerly: Middle Eastern Film Club)

The Middle East Film Initiative (MEFI) was launched by Ruth Priscilla Kirstein in 2013. Participants actively immerse themselves in the films’ language, music, imagery and acting technique and discover how styles are interconnected. The participants often know about the community where the film was made. Their presence and insights are at the heart of the program. Locations vary: One month we may be at the Turkish Cultural Center to work on the music of a Kurdish film, another month we will meet at The Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at NYU (Photo: Architizer), a co-sponsor of the event, to learn about the impact of Parsi theatre and film from India. Past sessions have been devoted to Iranian, Palestinian, Armenian, Turkish and Kurdish films. The current series focuses on the Middle Eastern diaspora, as well as on new work by New York City moviemakers. Each session includes a film viewing or reading, interactive study and networking time.

As state film tax credit programs offer advantageous work conditions for US and international productions and create a significant number of new local job opportunities, the MEFI provides interdisciplinary training for actors, writers, composers, designers, technicians, producers, journalists, academics, casting directors, agents, distributors and policy makers, as well as a continuous forum to connect the mainstream with the independent film market. Not to mention the work on growing audiences! The group is particularly attentive to the role women play both behind and in front of the camera and aims to diversify the representation of women in film, new media and TV. The MEFI ‘s objective is to create opportunities for a highly skilled group of local media professionals who have largely been off the radar of the mainstream US film market.


The Middle East Film Initiative (MEFI) provides interdisciplinary training, as well as an ongoing forum to connect the mainstream with the independent film market, with the purpose of building audiences and creating opportunities for local entertainment and media professionals.


Click here to make a tax-deductible contribution to the Middle East Film Initiative.

Fiscal Sponsor:  NYWIFT Logo