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Fireflies Seeks to Make Viewers Think Deeper About Racial Profiling

posted on: Aug 7, 2017

By: Colby Cyrus/Contributing Writer


Fifteen minutes of silent power, emotion, and reflection.

That is how I describe director Raouf Zaki’s newest film, Fireflies, which speaks to the nature of Arab American racial profiling in America.

The film centers around an Arab American man in Boston who, in an attempt to forget the tragedies of his past in Aleppo, frequents a café where he is met with suspicion and apprehension; particularly, as he makes a routine out of visiting the venue.

In addition to being honored at the Rhode Island International Film Festival, Fireflies was the recipient of the Best Director’s Award at the Boston Annual Film Festival and recognized at Roxbury International Film Festival, and the Boston International Film Festival.

The director said that “the film is intended to promote discussion about racial profiling in today’s geopolitical climate.” The film does just that, as a majority of its audience has more than likely viewed someone with suspicion, simply due to their complexion.

Among the many reviews the film has received, The Boston Globe’s Loren King said: “The controversy ignited by President Trump’s attempts at banning travelers from several largely Muslim countries provide a dramatic and timely context for Holliston filmmaker, Raouf Zaki’s Fireflies.”

Zaki also served as director of other films regarding the situation of Arabs in the United States, such as Just Your Average Arab in 2005 and Santa Claus in Baghdad in 2008. In regards to why he chose to create the film without dialogue, he said:

“As we all know the saying in Arabic: ’Silence is from Gold and talk is from silver” In the West, the saying is typically shortened to, Silence is golden. The script was written as a silent film because our writer, Charles Hal,l wanted to challenge our perceptions. A lot of what we judge is based on what we see. If we only see the surface, then how are we truly are seeing?”

“I think the words have a way of sneaking into our mind once we see the images in this film,” Zaki added. “As you can see, the images were far too sufficient to tell the story. It is also allegorical to the silence we live in the face of racial profiling or the refugee crisis for that matter.”

When I asked him about why he chose a café as the setting, Zaki simply said,  “once again the writer chose that setting to portray a common place for the average joe to frequent so that everyone can relate to this situation.”

The film certainly accomplishes Zaki’s goal and more. I, personally, finished the movie having related to the character after only a short period. His struggles were mine. I, like everyone else should, felt the power of the images meant to send a message that few others could.

Film will be screened at the;

Rhode International Film Festival

When: August 10th, 6:30 PM
Where: The Vets Cinematheque, 1 Avenue of the Arts, Providence, R! 02903

Buffalo Niagara International Film Festival

When: Thurs, Sept 28, 6:00pm
Where: Four Seasons Cinema, 2429 Military Rd #1, Niagara Falls, NY 14304