The Past Makes the Present

?A Thousand and One Journeys? discusses Arab-American role in U.S. history

Toledo Local Features  |  By Kelly Thompson  |  03/02/2016

When executive producer Abe Kasbo began working on his first feature-length film, he didn’t know how it would happen, or for that matter, how long it would take. With the help of a dedicated team, Kasbo is the brain behind “A Thousand and One Journeys: The Arab-Americans,” to be shown at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 5 at The University of Toledo Driscoll Center Auditorium. The screening is sponsored by the Toledo chapter of the Network of Arab American Professionals (NAAP).

The film discusses culture and family traditions, but more importantly, it talks about the essential role that people of Arab descent have had on United States history. It features many celebrities with Arab-American backgrounds, including Jamie Farr, Ralph Nader, and Sen. George Mitchell, who tell personal accounts of growing up in America.

“I grew up in Syria, so I had the privilege of watching America through TV,” said Abe Kasbo, the film’s executive producer. “I came here when I was ten years old, and didn’t speak a word of English [ . . . ] When I look today, the misperceptions that I saw back in 1980 are still around.”  

The film has taken Kasbo seven years to complete, and was released in October 2015 with initial screenings in New Jersey, Washington D.C. and New York City. “ I tend to watch the audience during screenings, and their reaction is totally worth any of the pains of being a first-time filmmaker,” he explained.  

Only in Toledo

Toledo, Ohio has a large Arab-American population, and so made an impact on the making of the film when Kasbo was gathering information and seeking interviewees. “Without Toledo, the film might not have happened,” he said. The filmmaker explained that it was Toledo native and celebrity Jamie Farr who originally pointed him in the direction of Northwest Ohio, where he connected with the film’s writer, Gia Amella.

“What’s cool about this film is, while it gives one perspective of the Arab-American story, it’s really American history that we’re talking about. It’s a piece of that history that often goes untold, and I think this film tells that story,” Kasbo said.  

View the film’s trailer below, or at the documentary website

See A Thousand and One Journeys: Arab-Americans on Saturday, March 5 at the Driscoll Alumni Center. 2801 W. Bancroft St., Toledo.  $15 general admission. Find the NAAP on Facebook