Desert in the Coffeehouse

See online now at Culture Unplugged:


Art design by Asvar Aras


Film Festivals

International Festival of Short Films on Culture
and Tourism (Jaipur, India)

Jordan Short Film Festival (Amman)
MESA Film Festival (Boston)

Radical Frame Film Festival (Berlin)
Urban/Suburban Film Festival (Philadelphia)
CommFFest (Toronto)
Indie Fest (Award of Merit)
Charlotte Film Festival (North Carolina)
Square Lake Film Festival (St. Paul)
Chashama Film Festival (New York)
Best Shorts Competition (Award of Merit)

Selected Screenings

Amideast, Cairo
American Embassy, Cairo
Southside Hub of Production (Chicago)
Maine Humanities Council (Portland)
Holy Cross College (New Orleans)
Australian Television Broadcast

Comment from Cairo screening:

"Filmmaker Nice asks all the right questions, and succeeds in shedding
light on the diversity of opinions within American society on the Middle
East. Desert in the Coffeehouse is a great opening for dialogue between the
U.S. and the Middle East."
--Matthew Kuehl, Education Abroad Program Manager AMIDEAST/Egypt

"Almost a decade after 9/11, and after numerous publications and films, I have yet to see a documentary that matches Pamela Nice's treatment of Americans' perceptions of Arabs, Islam and the Middle East. By allowing average Minnesotans to voice their opinions, Nice's 'Desert in the Coffeehouse' brings America's mainstream views--unedited and without embellishments--into focus and lets us wrestle with our prejudices and hopes."
--Anouar Majid, author of We are All Moors and A Call for Heresy

Desert in the Coffeehouse
28.00 minutes
Café Aziza, Inc., 2010


Direction, script, interviews, voiceover: Pam Nice
Camera and editing: Mark Tang
Music: Yehya Khalil
Audio mix and post-production sound: Depth Audio--Jeff Deeth
Produced by Café Aziza, Inc.

Desert in the Coffeehouse Synopsis

Many Arabs may have stereotypes of Americans being materialistic, sex-obsessed and intent on controlling world resources. But the actions of our government and the image projected by our media do not reflect the lives of average Americans. This film attempts to put a face on the “American public,” who are for the most part aware that their foreign policy is creating enemies in the Arab world. Some are naïve and ignorant about the Middle East; others are fairly well-informed and appalled at our policies. This film asks two basic questions: what do Americans think about the Middle East, and do they see America as an empire? Minnesotans from a variety of backgrounds, interviewed in coffeehouses across the Twin Cities, reflect on these questions and on our relationship with
people in the Middle East.

DC Program Notes

This film is an answer to a challenge and a question posed by Ahmed, a young Moroccan, when I was teaching theatre at the National Theatre Institute in Rabat. “We want to know what Americans--not their government or media--think of Arabs.” This was followed by, “Do they feel like they are living in an empire?” This film explores the territory between these two thoughts. My map was made of questions I had heard many times in Egypt, Morocco and Syria. With it, I discovered how my fellow Minnesotans--over 100 of them, in many coffeehouses in Minneapolis and St. Paul—were thinking of the Middle East and America’s relationship to it. What images do they have of the Middle East? Where do they get their news of this region? Do they know why Palestine is so important to Arabs and Muslims around the world? Why do they think we’re so involved in the Middle East? How do they think Arabs view us? And finally, back to Ahmed’s question, considering the financial and human investment in the Iraq War and the War on Terror, do they feel like we’re living in a country at war?