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Filmmaker Rola Nashef Finds Inspiration for Films within Arab American Community

Southfield (CW50) - The authentic stories of Arab Americans around 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 storytelling of Arab Americans in media.

Nashef draws upon her extensive experience in the arts and 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, her friend's lives, and others in the community to tell stories that are as authentic and accessible to the widest audience possible. Her films have been described as thoughtful, hilarious, entertaining and smart.

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Scene from Filmmaker Rola Nashef's debut feature film, Detroit Unleaded

Nashef's debut, award-winning feature, Detroit Unleaded, holds its place in American cinema history as the very first Arab-American romantic comedy portraying second generation Arab characters specific to Detroit & Dearborn.  The film centers around an Arab-owned 24-hour gas station in Detroit and is a fresh take on the boy-meets-girl comedy. The film won the inaugural Grolsch Film Works Discovery Award.

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Scene from Filmmaker Rola Nashef's short film, Detroit Unleaded

The origins of the film come from 2007 when, prior to her debut feature, Nashef released Detroit Unleaded, the 20-minute short film version which garnered international recognition through its official screenings at 26 film festivals.

Nashef set out to change the narrative of Arab Americans and dispel the misconceptions of the community through her films. Her international recognition has helped expand the reach of the everyday life of 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 depict Arab America in media. She also discusses dispelling the misconceptions of Arab Americans.

Learn more at

Watch Community Connect, Saturday at 7am on CW50.

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