The Team

About the san diego arab film festival

The San Diego Arab Film Festival (SDAFF) is a project of KARAMA, a local non-profit that promotes understanding of the issues of the Arab and Islamic world and of the Palestinian issue in particular.  In 2012, its inaugural year, the Festival screened 3 feature films and 5 short films from six countries. The Festival has grown steadily. The 2023 edition includes 8 features and 8 short films from across the Arab world and the Arrab diaspora.  KARAMA’S goal is to grow the San Diego Arab Film Festival into a major cultural event that enhances the identity, perception, and understanding of Arabs and the Arab world.  More information about KARAMA is available at

Meet Our People

The work of putting on the Festival is carried out by the San Diego Film Festival Committee, which is composed of the KARAMA Board of Directors and volunteers from the community.


Larry Christian

Committee Chair
Mr. Christian retired after a 37-year career in the engineering field. From 1988-2011, he was a member of the Middle East Cultural and Information Center. Presently he is a board member and president of KARAMA. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of California, Berkeley.

Jinane Abbadi

committee Member
Jinane Abbadi is a Moroccan born multidisciplinary artist residing in San Diego California. Her interests include colonial and postcolonial studies, Orientalism, and the issues of colonial power dominance and their influence on identity and creativity.

Maha Gebara-Lamb

committee Member
Maha Gebara-Lamb Ph.D. is a Lebanese American, scientist, educator, biostatistician and cultural advocate. She has been serving on the San Diego Arab Film Festival committee since its inception in 2012.

Rula Jalil Elias-Lopez

Committee Member
Rula Jalil Elias-Lopez is a Palestinian woman who was born in Jerusalem and lived in Ramallah. She works as an Intellectual Patent US Filing Specialist at an International Law Firm, Cooley LLP.

Adnan Salah

Committee Member
Adnan Salah is a member of Karama and the SD Arab Film Festival.

Bassemah Darwish

Committee Member
Ms. Darwish is a veteran high school teacher in the Grossmont Union High School District where she teaches English language development and English language arts. She earned an English/writing BA from UCSD and a masters in cross-cultural education. Having been an immigrant English learner as a child, she serves a culturally diverse student population from low income and minority backgrounds.

Yousef Abudayyeh

Committee Member
Yousef Abudayyeh is a Palestinian American Karama board member who’s been active in the Social Justice movement in San Diego for a long time.




A Palestinian couple living in Gaza is preparing for their wedding when an event changes their life story. After this incident, the Palestinian bride is reviewing her memories of the joys and sorrows of the 7 days leading up to the wedding day and whispering to her husband, Ahmed, who is a fisherman from Gaza. This documentary tries for the first time to discuss the word resistance along with the concept of life in Palestine and Gaza.


Aida Returns is a poignant, sometimes sad, sometimes painful, sometimes humorous, often absurd story of a multiple journey: the journey of loss as the director’s mother Aida struggled with losing herself to Alzheimer’s disease, but finding solace in her repeated “returning” to the Yafa and Palestine of her youth; the journey of the loss of a parent; and the ultimate return journey back to Yafa where Aida would finally find rest and be herself once more. This journey is at the same time very private and personal, while resonating with hundreds of thousands of Alzheimer’s sufferers and their families as well as hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees awaiting their return home.

Close to four years after Aida’s passing away, the director’s friend and colleague Tanya who lives in Ramallah came to visit Beirut. When she heard about Aida’s wishes and yearning for Yafa, Tanya suggested that she herself carries the ashes back. The film accompanies director Carol Mansour as she engineers a way to return her mother to Yafa in search of eternal rest and peace for her. A return that is aided by an unlikely set of friends and strangers all coming together to facilitate what should have been a simple  journey.