The Balancing Arab

Released: 2012
Runtime: 15 minutes


The Balancing Arab tells the story of Hanan (played by Amira Sabbagh), a politically active Arab American, and Heidi, her Irish American personal fitness trainer (played by Leslie Frame). Set in a downtown Chicago gym during a training session, the mood turns tense as the two women recount an event at the Arab American Cultural Center a few nights earlier -- an event at which the evening’s political discourse got filtered through decidedly different lenses.

The Balancing Arab explores conflicts that exist within and between political cultures and what happens when messaging gets stranded in context and lost in translation.

Creative Team

Written by

  • Jamil Khoury

Directed by

  • Anne Jacques

Executive Producers

  • Malik Gillani
  • Jamil Khoury

Assistant Director

  • Deann Baker

Director of Photography

  • Drew Pientka

Original Score & Sound

  • Peter J. Storms

Assistant Camera

  • Jesse Hibbs


  • Tim Stotz


  • Deann Baker

Script Supervisor

  • Elias Feghaly

Production Manager

  • Caitlin Duerinck

Sound Mixer

  • Jason Ssg

Make Up and Hair

  • Lydia Pligge

Athletic Consultant

  • Andrew James Preston

Props Master

  • Jesse Gaffney


Amira Sabbagh as HANAN
Leslie Frame as HEIDI

Special Thanks

The Field Foundation of Illinois
The First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple
Karen Atwood
Sheila Chapman
Geeta Citygirl
Jo Anne Davis

Screening History

July 6, 2012 | The University of Chicago Startalk Program, hosted at Silk Road Rising, Chicago, Illinois

October 4, 2012 | Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

November 13, 2012 | Benedictine University, Lisle, Illinois

April 5, 2013 | Braiding Rivers Festival, hosted at Links Hall, Chicago, Illinois

November 10, 2013 | Wilmette Public Library, Wilmette, Illinois

December 10, 2013 | American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon

April 25, 2014 | Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois

May 20, 2014 | University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon

February 26, 2015 | Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois

April 28, 2016 | Evanston Township High School, Evanston, Illinois

March 31, 2017 | Religion Communicators Council Convention, hosted at St. James Cathedral, Chicago, Illinois

October 17, 2018 | 150 North Michigan Ave Building, hosted by Silk Road Rising, Chicago, Illinois

May 17, 2019 | Steppenwolf Theatre, hosted at Silk Road Rising, Chicago, Illinois

June 11, 2019 | American Center, Moscow, Russia

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