From the Editor: Nour Oubeid (BFA/Film Production ’18) is a recipient of a Women of Chapman award for her upcoming thesis film Amal. Epiphany in the Margins reflects on how her film will examine the concept of exploring one’s identity. 

Developing a senior thesis project can be a bit harrowing. “This is the time for you to showcase what you have learned here at Chapman.” Those words buzz in your ears wildly, and the following process commences: flip viciously through your notebook for those small epiphanies you wrote down in the margins, dive into a pool of movies searching for the oracle of all films, realize it’s 4 a.m. and you have class in five hours. Repeat. The outside pressure isn’t as bad as I’m making it seem. Where else would I find the motivation at this stage of pre-production? I knew I wanted to write something that showcased a facet of my life. I find it to be the easiest way to keep the flame burning as you hungrily search for “The Story”. But now looking back at this, I realize that that is only a sliver of something much larger. More important.

I was afraid when my professor suggested that I write a screenplay about my heritage. Being a Muslim Syrian-American with immigrant parents, there seems to be one theme that screams at the top of its lungs, impatiently waiting to be picked. I would be amiss if I hadn’t decided to explore it, but with recent events in mind, how would the story be received? A blank page was becoming too familiar and the deadline for a first draft was days away. I am quite proud of my identity, of being raised in a household that embraced two cultures. But for whatever reason, I didn’t know where to begin…

Until I questioned myself about my intent on making this film. In a personal sense, it would be a very cathartic experience, a means for me to make something virtually tangible that would help me understand my feelings and thoughts about the prejudice toward a group of people I identify with. But after removing myself for a moment, remembering that experiences such as this are shared by many, I finally had a starting point and was typing away with lightning speed (partially because I was up at 4 a.m. again with class five hours away).

Whether here or there, today or yesterday, we’ve all questioned our identity, endured the pressure to question it, experienced some kind of unwarranted prejudice, felt lost. But hopefully, we’ve found someone or something that’s provided reassurance in how we identify ourselves after having fingers wrongly point at us. If not yet, it’s only a matter of time, and that I promise. Amal is only one example of exploring one’s identity, and though I am sure I will be visited with the uncertainty of its reception a number of times while moving on to the next stages of development (which I realize now is normal and plagues anyone living in the bubble of the arts), I only hope that it will bring a sense of unification or be someone’s means of reassurance. If I remember that, I’m sure everything will be okay.

Amal will premiere this spring, 2018. Thank you for sharing, Nour!