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On April 29, Cal State San Bernardino held a film screening of “36 Seconds: Portrait of a Hate Crime,” which is a documentary delving into the tragic deaths of three Muslim-American students in Chapel Hill, N.C., in 2015. The event featured a panel discussion with filmmaker Tarek Albaba and co-producer and lead researcher, Ahlam Mutaseb, also a professor of media studies at CSUSB.

The film provides an intimate look into the victims' families and their swift shift from experiencing deep trauma to becoming advocates for justice. They confront the narrative that their loved ones' deaths were merely due to a parking dispute, asserting that the murders were a hate crime.

Mutaseb's expertise, particularly from her work on a documentary on the year 1948 and its consequences for Palestinian refugees, and Albaba's 21 years of experience in creating compelling content for platforms, such as Apple TV and National Geographic, contributed to the profound impact of this feature documentary, which has been recognized at film festivals, including DOCNYC and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

During the panel, Albaba shared his personal connection to the tragedy, which inspired him to make the film. His engagement with the subject matter reflects both his community ties and his own experiences. Mutaseb highlighted the importance of self-representation and storytelling.

Mahbuba Hammad, a lecturer in the world languages and literatures department, indicated that this event aimed to enhance understanding of Arab Americans' diverse experiences, stressing the importance of recognizing our shared humanity. She added, “There is hope for a significant shift should we choose to see and embrace one another's humanity, working collectively towards a more harmonious and inclusive society.”