As Seen Onscreen: The Arab World


Journalism is often referred to as the ‘first draft of history’. In this discussion, moderated by journalist Anchal Vohra, we ask journalists and filmmakers Tilo Gummel, Raed Andoni and Zeva Oelbaum, what is the first draft of the Arab world’s history? Even in the 21st century misleading and sometimes false imagery of the Arab world travels globally. Journalists Tilo Gummel will share experiences from covering the fall of ISIS in Baghouz and Raqqa, and Anchal Vohra will compare how reporting on areas such as India, Afghanistan and Russia differs from reporting on the Middle East. Filmmaker Zeva Oelbaum looks into covering the story of Gertrude Bell in Letters from Baghdad (2016) while Raed Andoni explores his latest feature Ghost Hunting (2017) and how it tells the stories of Palestinians held in Israeli detention centers.

We ask our panelists how does the history of the Arab world change alongside the ever-changing environments of film and journalism? 


[A Syrian woman walks past a military vehicle as hundreds of civilians, who streamed out of the Islamic State group's last Syrian stronghold, headed towards a screening point for new arrivals run by US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces outside Baghouz in the eastern Syrian Deir Ezzor province on March 5, 2019. Image courtesy of Delil Souleiman, AFP and Getty Images.]

  • Venue accessibility

    • Simultaneous translation

      Simultaneous translation (Arabic/English) is provided for all programs.

    • Wheelchair accessibility

      The Projection Theatre is fully wheelchair accessible and features multiple wheelchair spaces with unobstructed views of the stage and screen.

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  • Program credits

    Anchal Vohra

    Anchal Vohra (moderator) has been Deutsche Welle’s Middle East Correspondent since 2016 as well as a writer for Foreign Policy, New Statesman, Berlin Policy Journal and several other publications. She is a fellow of the Observer Research Foundation, an Indian thinktank. Previous positions have included as Senior News Anchor and Foreign Affairs Editor at CNN IBN, now CNN News18—the Indian affiliate of CNN International. She was also a News Anchor and Chief Correspondent for NDTV in India. Vohra is based in Beirut, Lebanon.

    Raed Andoni

    Raed Andoni is a filmmaker from Palestine whose career started as a producer in 1997, producing a number of films that were well received in international festivals and markets. In 2006 he directed his first documentary Improvisation. His feature Fix ME (2010) premiered in official competition at the Sundance Film Festival, the ACID selection at Cannes 2011 Film Festival, among others, and won several prizes. Andoni's latest film Ghost Hunting (2017) premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival, won the Glashütte Original–Documentary Award and audience award. Ghost Hunting toured through more than 100 international festivals and won 20 prizes before it became Palestine’s official entry to the Oscars in 2019. 

    Tilo Gummel

    Tilo Gummel is an investigative filmmaker and video journalist. In his two decades in the industry, he has worked on more than two dozen documentaries that won him 16 national and international film awards for networks including Germany’s ARD, ZDF and ARTE, and US Public TV broadcaster P.B.S. His film Child slaves—Kindersklaven (2008) received a nomination for the Emmys in the current affairs category and the CNN Award for Best Reportage, among other awards. He reported on the fall of ISIS from Baghouz and Raqqa. He was based in India for 11 years and now lives in Beirut. 

    Zeva Oelbaum

    Zeva Oelbaum is an award-winning documentary filmmaker. She is the recipient of two US National Endowment for the Humanities grants for her work as well as grants from the New York State Council on the Arts, and Women in Film. Most recently, she produced and co-directed, with Sabine Krayenbühl, Letters From Baghdad (2016), which was voiced and executive produced by Tilda Swinton. The film won the Audience Award at the Beirut International Film Festival and has been broadcast around the world including on PBS, the BBC, and ARTE/France and Germany. It screened in over 140 theaters worldwide including the National Theater of Iraq in Baghdad and throughout Iraq. Oelbaum also produced Ahead of Time (2009) which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) before garnering six best documentary awards.