At first, the media releases describing Framingham filmmaker Raouf Zaki's new short comedy read like a politically incorrect joke:
"A group of Arab-Americans walk into a convenience store. They begin talking about ways to seem more American. The punch line? The FBI is listening in from across the street and thinking they've found the next big terrorist cell."
But although this 19-minute film starring Hollywood actor and comic Ahmed Ahmed (of MTV's "Punk'd" with Ashton Kutcher ) is laugh-out-loud funny, its underlying message is dead serious.
"After the Gulf War, I started getting this feeling that I should make films about my culture and my culture as it's seen in America... and after 9/11 , it seemed even more urgent," said Zaki, 37, who came to the United States from Egypt in 1985 at age 17.
"This film is about the anxiety that I've felt since 9/11, whether I'm going through airport security with a lot of film equipment or just the way that people look at you and get tense if you have a Middle Eastern background. It's unspoken, but you can feel it," he said. "I knew a lot of it has to do with ignorance, and I wanted to do something about it."
That something is the darkly satirical "Just Your Average Arab," which Zaki completed in June and will be screening in Framingham on Wednesday. [Link]
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