Midnight Traveler:
Uncertain Journeys to and through EU

October 16, 2020

12:00pm-1:30pm (US Eastern Time)

This event will focus on the film Midnight Traveler, a 2019 documentary filmed on cell phone cameras by a family of filmmakers, whose quest for political asylum takes them from Afghanistan to Europe. This documentary is a first-hand account of displacement and border crossing, providing insights into the cruelties of border regimes and systems of refugee governance.


EMELIE MAHDAVIAN is a filmmaker, dancer, and humanities scholar. She produced, wrote, and edited MIDNIGHT TRAVELER which won a Peabody Award, a Special Jury Prize at Sundance and was nominated for an Emmy for Current Affairs Documentary and a Gotham Award for Best Documentary. The film broadcast in the US on PBS’ acclaimed series POV and was distributed theatrically by Oscilloscope Laboratories. Emelie was nominated (with Su Kim) for Best Production at the Cinema Eye Honors and was awarded Best Editing at Salem Film Festival. Her editing credits include DREAMS OF DARAA (dir. Reilly Dowd), SINGING IN THE WILDERNESS (dir. Dongnan Chen), PEOPLE’S HOSPITAL (dir. Siyi Chen), and SARAH (dir. Tracy Droz Tragos). Her dance film work has screened at museums and international festivals including the Los Angeles Craft and Folk Art Museum and at Dance on Camera at Lincoln Center. Emelie studied filmmaking at London Film School and has a Ph.D. in Performance Studies with an emphasis on Film Practice as Research from the University of California, Davis. She is Producer-in-Residence in the Department of Film and Media Arts at the University of Utah. She is currently completing BITTERBRUSH, a documentary set in the American West.

NADIA YAQUB (Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley) is the author of Pens, Swords, and the Springs of Art: the Oral Poetry Dueling of Weddings in the Galilee (Brill, 2006), Palestinian Cinema in the Days of Revolution (University of Texas Press, 2018) and numerous articles and book chapters about Arab film and literature. She is also coeditor with Rula Quawas of Bad Girls of the Arab World (University of Texas Press, 2017). Her current research projects include an edited volume about visual representations of the Gaza Strip titled “Gaza On Screen” and a book about engaged Arab cinema of the 1970s and 1980s with a focus on transnational connections and regional initiatives. She teaches courses on Arab film, literature, and photography.

CHRISTIAN WILHELM is the manager of the international master programs of the Department of Social Sciences at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. During the so-called "refugee crisis" in 2015 he initiated the opening of the German-Turkish GeT MA program for refugees. This created a unique opportunity for refugees to access the German university system. In addition to the opening of the program, he developed additional support services for refugee students and linked the project with other initiatives of the university.

LILY HERBERT is a PhD student in the Department of Geography at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research incorporates critical geography and critical race theory to spatially analyze US federal hate crime data, and the complexities of data collection. She is interested in creating research communication products that make quantitative data accessible to the public, and inspire greater attention to how data are produced. Lily also works in spatial data science and digital communications. She enjoys drawing on diverse skills to connect the public with educational opportunities and research.