Here are the jurors for the 2015 Chicago Palestine Film Festival!


An actor since birth, after making her big screen debut in 2002 in “Rana’s Wedding” by Hany Abu-Assad, she gained international recognition for her role in “The Syrian Bride,” portraying a young Druze woman who risks losing her family by entering an arranged marriage with a Syrian celebrity. Recently she has been awarded  for  her role as Bushra in Sayed Kashua’s poignant television series “Arab Labor”. She plays Salma in Hiam Abbas’ directorial debut “Inheritance,”  now in theaters in France. After starring in Lipstika, selected for competition at the Berlinale, Clara married and immigrated to the North Coast of California briefly appearing on Showtime’s “Homeland”. She is also the proud daughter of the pioneering actor Makram J. Khoury.



Sayed Badreya is an Egyptian-born filmmaker and actor. After film school, Badreya won roles in major Hollywood films such as The Insider, Three Kings, and Independence Day. Badreya was double awarded in April for the short film “Chicago Mirage” at the 10th Annual Boston International Film Festival 2012 for Best Indie Short Film and Best Indie Short Director. As a filmmaker, Badreya’s mission is to make movies that tell the Arab-American story, a story he passionately believes is yet to be told.



Sam Blan is an executive producer & writer of Palestinian descent. He is the Director of Acquisitions and Co-productions for Inception Film Partners based in Los Angeles, CA. and sits on the advisory board for the Arab Film Festival.  He has been responsible for identifying new business prospects and acquisitions in the entertainment arena as well as spearheading drives into co-productions. For the past few years he has worked mostly in an international capacity sourcing/acquiring creative property, working on contracts/negotiations and in physical production. He has also done extensive script coverage and analysis. He has been credited as a producer on two independent motion pictures and is a native of Chicago. He has worked on a number of commercials and music videos over the course of several years.  Sam has established continuing solid relationships with all clients and partners, specifically: Producers, Financiers, Agents, Managers, Film Executives, Directors, Casting Directors, Talent, etc.


JoAnn Fakhouri is an award winning film producer that graduated from DePaul University. She has been working in the film industry for over 15 years from Casting Agent to Extras Coordinator as well as producing in Chicago. Productions such as; ER, The West Wing, Early Edition, Judge Mathis. Feature Films such as Spiderman, Road to Perdition, The Lakehouse, Shall We Dance, Proof, just to name a few. She has worked with Hollywood A-list stars such as Mel Gibson, Richard Gere, Gwenyth Paltow, Jeremy Piven, Anthony Hopkins and many more. Fakhouri also a model/actress has done runway, print, and television segments appearing on WGN, FOX, ABC, and featured in magazines including the Chicago Sun-times, The Reporter, The Harold, The Edge, etc. Currently Fakhouri is in preproduction on her indie short film; ‘A Haunted Laugh’ written by Fakhouri and the feature film; ‘Bride of the Nile’ written by Sayed Badreya.


Areen Shahbari is a Fulbright Alumni, an MBA Graduate, and an innovative international multilingual media professional and journalist with experience in media consulting, TV production, content editing, and TV anchoring. Areen was born and raised in Nazareth, got her B.A. in Psychology and Communication from Tel Aviv University, moved to the US in 2009 and Graduated with honors ΒΓΣ from Simmons School of Management in May 2011. Between 2005 and 2009, Ms. Shahbari has worked for the highest rated commercial channel, Keshet Broadcasting, Channel 2, as the head of the Arabic programming department. She has also launched the first TV show ever with focus on Palestinian women. In 2011, she founded Cactus, an organization that aims to fight the chronic unemployment among Palestinian women by providing Palestinian women with professional entrepreneurship courses and management consulting services.  Previously, Shahbari has hosted 4 TV shows and more than 180 episodes on channel 2 concerning the Palestinian society. Currently she is hosting a new TV show on channel 2 called “A Question Mark”, a studio show that provides professional advice on social, political, economic and legal issues.


Adam Shapiro works as the Head of Campaigns for the Irish international human rights organization Front Line Defenders (, where he has worked since September 2011. In his role, he is responsible for campaigning for human rights defenders around the world. Although the main office is in Dublin Ireland; however, Adam has traveled for work to Bahrain, Colombia, Mexico, Qatar, Belgium, Greece, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, and the Netherlands. Prior to his position at Front Line Defenders, Adam was working as an independent documentary filmmaker. He has made a number of documentary films that appeared in film festivals around the world. One of his movies was “Darfur Diaries” and he co-authored a book, “Darfur Diaries: Stories of Survival”. Adam has been an activist for Palestinian human and political rights including co-founding the International Solidarity Movement. He has worked for a number of years to find sanctuary for Palestinian refugees from Iraq who were targeted and expelled following the invasion and internecine conflict in that country.


Huwaida Arraf is a Palestinian-American lawyer and human rights advocate. She received her Bachelors degrees from the University of Michigan, and her Juris Doctor from the American University Washington College of Law, where she focused her studies on international human rights and humanitarian law. In 2001 Huwaida co-founded the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), which has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.  Huwaida is co-editor of the book “Peace Under Fire: Israel, Palestine, and the International Solidarity Movement.  Huwaida was one of the initiators and organizers of a delegation of American lawyers to Gaza in February 2009, and co-authored the report on their findings, “Onslaught: Israel’s Attack on Gaza and the Rule of Law.” Huwaida is the former Chairperson of the Free Gaza Movement Since August 2008, she has led 5 successful sea voyages to the Gaza Strip to confront and challenge Israel’s illegal blockade. Huwaida was one of the primary organizers of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla..



Faiza is a professional relationship writer labeled the “Muslim Carrie Bradshaw.” She is the star of the YouTube series ‘Expired N Fabulous.’ A series that follows the thirty year old Palestinian Muslim through her journey to find love after far surpassing her “marriage expiration date,” of twenty five and now being considered “expired.” The series is based off her online diary of the same name. She has lectured on the differences between Islam and the Arab culture using arranged marriage as the platform to differentiate the two and her relationship columns have been published on Allwomenstalk.