20 Years Old in the Middle East
"I worry I'll never get married or have a family. We all fear, war, death and destruction. We all have the same fear of tomorrow."- Dina, an Egyptian student in Beirut
Filmed after the fall of Saddam Hussein, 20 YEARS OLD IN THE MIDDLE-EAST traverses the region — from Jordan to Syria, Iran, and Lebanon — to take the pulse of Arab and Iranian youth.
The film offers an opportunity for Western college students to truly understand the lives and attitudes of their Middle Eastern counterparts: how they're different, and how they're the same.
Hyam Pourla, an Iranian theology student and aspiring mullah who clandestinely sings in a heavy metal band, says, "There are big games being played in the region. Great strategies decided for the Middle East… We are powerless. All people can do is suffer."
It's a feeling echoed by many, including Abbud, a Jerusalem-born Palestinian studying in Jordan: "We are reduced to silence," he says. "We can't speak freely here."
"We're now lacking ideals," says Kamal, who studies at the American University in Beirut. "The Arab myth is fading. We don't know where to look for references. We're lost."
And Badder, who dreams of being a BBC announcer, laments, "We're ashamed to say we're Arabs and proud of it."
Although wary of the future, this generation craves freedom, and wants to feel pride in themselves and their cultures. For many, dreams and hopes co-exist with hopelessness and despair.
As America becomes more deeply embroiled in the region, 20 YEARS OLD IN THE MIDDLE-EAST offers an indispensable snapshot of the attitudes of a generation that desires liberty over extremism, but at the same time fears that American policies will lead them into ever more warfare, and which - above all - simply wants to pursue their dreams.