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Ackland Film Forum screens ?rst ?lm miniseries

This year’s Ackland Film Forum aims to connect art and cinema to cultivate global dialogue.

The diverse lineup of films begins tonight with the documentary “Cedars in the Pines: A Documentary on the Lebanese in North Carolina.”

The Ackland Art Museum began the film forum in the spring of 2011 to facilitate the discovery of art in cinema. The films screen at the Varsity Theatre on Franklin Street.

In the 2011-12 school year, the Ackland showed 30 films at the Varsity.

“We’re aiming for the same ambitious schedule,” said Allison Portnow, events and programs coordinator at the museum.

She said the forum aims to show films that appeal to students and the general public. UNC departments collaborate with the museum to show films relevant to courses.

“There is always a mix of people who have to see it for class and people who are interested in the topic,” Portnow said.

The first of four miniseries in the forum — Cinema of the Global Middle East — is a collaboration between the Ackland, the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations, and the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies.

Each miniseries showcases either three or four films, one per week.

The Cinema of the Global Middle East films are free and open to the public. There will be three films in the fall and another miniseries in the spring.

Tonight’s screening of “Cedars in the Pines” will begin with an introduction by UNC Asian Studies professor Sahar Amer and the film’s executive producer, Akram Khater, director of the Khayrallah Program for Lebanese-American Studies at N.C. State University.

After the 60-minute film, Amer and Khater will lead a question-and-answer session.

The film is a documentary about the rich 120-year history of the Lebanese in North Carolina, said Regina Higgins, outreach director for UNC’s Middle East Center, one of the forum’s sponsors.

“There are not many people who realize Middle Eastern immigration is not a new thing,” Higgins said. “Art and cinema can deepen understanding of culture.”

Khater said his film is part of a larger project to research, document and preserve the history of the Lebanese in North Carolina.

“The film is based on oral history interviews we have been conducting for about two years,” he said. “The art is in the human stories — the individual stories that have been put together as a communal narrative.”

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