Heidi Saman

2016 Pew Fellow

1/6: Heidi Saman, 2016 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.
2/6: Heidi Saman, 2016 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.
3/6: Production still from Heidi Saman’s Namour. Photo by TK Anderson.
4/6: Director Heidi Saman and actor Waleed Zuaiter on the set of Namour. Photo by TK Anderson.
5/6: Production still from Heidi Saman’s Namour. Photo by TK Anderson.
6/6: Heidi Saman. Photo by David Evan McDowell.

“In my work I depict a first generation immigrant experience that resembles a fluid confluence of cultural backgrounds, one that is never contemplated or categorized in either/or terms.”

Heidi Saman (b. 1979) is a filmmaker influenced by Italian neo-realism’s emphasis on working-class protagonists, whose own work examines cultural identity, family, class, and daily life among Arab Americans. “The immigrant experience in cinema is often illustrated in terms of binaries: insider/outsider, homeland/foreign land, native/alien. As the daughter of Arab immigrants, I never experienced the push or pull these binaries presented. My experience just was,” she says. Her feature-length Namour premiered at the 2016 L.A. Film Festival, where it was listed among the “films you absolutely cannot miss” by Los Angeles Magazine. The film, set in L.A. during the economic recession of the late 2000s, centers on a young Egyptian American valet driver who struggles to balance his lifestyle with the demands of his middle-class immigrant family. Saman was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces to Watch in 2014.” Her short film The Maid premiered as an official selection at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008 and went on to screen at festivals worldwide. A recipient of a Leeway Transformation Award for Creating Art for Social Change, Saman holds an MA in film and media arts from Temple University.


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