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SYNOPSIS

IS there a danger in a singular view of the world? Told through personal stories of Arabs from Sudan, Oman, Yemen, and Palestinian Territories and Americans, Dates for Coffee explores stories and folklore through animation to reveal the influence stories have on our worldviews.

Guided by the wisdom and effervescence of International Folklore Scholar Wolfgang Mieder, the film navigates the stories  of people from around the world and the use of folklore in counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan as described by Navy Captain Edward Zellema and Four-Star General David H. Petraeus. United Nations Special Rapporteur Farida Shaheed reminds us of the power of narratives and stories as a prospect for peacebuilding and through the most well-known animated fairytales, personal narratives from far reaches, and candid conversations with experts from MENA region and U.S., we discover what’s really at stake in war and peace negotiations between East and West.

Culture is like a Prism through which we see the world and the world looks back at us...It’s also what we expect of the world.
— United Nations Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights, Farida Shaheed
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BACKGROUND

After living with an Omani host family for months, sharing a bedroom with my two host sisters who were my age, copying their gestures, wearing a black abaya like them each day, embedded in their slang, and yet undeniably different. My individualistic tendencies, displayed in subtle ways the gap in understanding was at odds with the prevailing narrative that I was surrounded by in this quiet Arabian outpost. I felt compelled to tell other Americans the importance of seeing our own lenses. Dates for Coffee is a repository of the stories we tell ourselves, are told and, more importantly,  make real through our daily actions and behavior. The challenge is to unmask the values and beliefs embedded in stories, sometimes dangerous, and maintain the values we cherish.