Hot Winter

Hello friends!

This winter has been politically hot and community focused as I’ve been following up on some of the tragic attempts to shut down arts and community hubs in our city particularly with regards to the W2 Community Media Arts Society right in the heart of the Woodwards building in the down town east side which has been basically out of commission since last December 2012.  You can watch this video that I made with community members all devastated to see their new community space shut down without any warning or direction as to what the future holds for them. What this really means is that W2 incubated arts projects like VIMAF (Vancouver Indigenous Media Arts Festival) and Utopia Festival, a festival dedicated to female film and music makers in the digital world, and many others no longer have a home. What this means is that arts companies and not-for-profits like urban ink and others have to look to really expensive venues to hold their workshops, events and fundraisers; which defeats the purpose and leaves them still struggling to fund their art. It is no secret that the new government has cut down on arts funding and it’s the artists who are suffering the most particularly those in Aboriginal, Immigrant & Low Income communities in our DTES; the W2 Community Media Arts space was a sanctuary, a safe and inclusive space for arts and self expression.

Just a note for those who don’t know that the DTES is currently considered Canada’s most impoverished postal code, struggling with serious issues of missing and murdered women, drugs and homelessness, while ‘gastown’ the more refined name for DTES, continues to gentrify chasing after consumer capitalism and turning a blind eye to the realities around it. In order to see these two opposing energies at play one only needs to have a walk through ‘blood alley’, just off Cordova and Abbott where on one side you have a social housing disaster and on the other some of the most eclectic and fancy restaurants & shops in Vancouver. It gets its name ‘blood alley’ due to the public executions that were held there at the square in the past and a number of butcher shops who would rinse the blood from their shops out onto the street.

Just up the street and back at the W2 Woodwards building the city of Vancouver has offered the space as an accessible space to all, but the community is concerned about what shape the management of W2 will take in the future. The good news is that the #w2belongs2me team is on the road, still living the dream and community members, friends and colleagues won’t be giving up on the space without a fight. Now the question on everyone’s mind is: how does one build sustainable models for community arts spaces that are all-inclusive and at the same time profitable? #w2belongs2me is holding a  public forum on the 20th  of February to continue the discussion.

The video also features Scott Clark, Coast Salish ED of ALIVE (Aboriginal Life in Vancouver Enhancement Society) a group with over 800 members whose mission is to enhance our city with place based models of development that are inclusive transformative and open to all communities. Salam Films was at the Parks Board meeting where Scott Clark, along with Penny Irons and Grace Tait showed their support for the motion to re-distribute funds equally among all the community centres, a strategy more in line with a place based model of organizing and development . Vlog coming soon but in the meantime check out this article by Katie Hyslop on the latest of the LAPP (Local Area Planning Process).

Back at Salam Films, with Amar locked up in the editing suite of our Kelowna studios, and as I get ready for another crowd funding campaign for urban ink’s new play Sal Capone, we are optimistic about the future. As we enter into the Chinese New Year: the year of the water snake which is said to be a good year for healing and technology; a great year to follow the Mayan’s end- of –the- world- as- we- know -it prediction we invite you to enter a space of PIES: Physical, Intellectual, Emotional & Spiritual beauty and sustenance. I leave you with wise words from our friend Ian MacKenzie, whose #crowdfunding 101 I attended on Sunday and recommend it for anyone interested in community fundraising.

‘If you want to be radical, show yourself.’ This is the year to do it, catch you soon! Dima.

February 19, 2013 by Write a Comment
Under: Blog

Kiss The Ground : A Journey Of Remembrance

Dear Friends,

In belated celebration of Eid -Al -Adha we would like to invite you to this scared event on November 2nd at 7pm @ the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts (Djavad Mowafaghian room #2555, 2nd floor). Read below for more details and hope to see you all there for a fun and musically inspired evening. Please pass this along to your friends and loved ones…

Sufi’s are messengers of the order of the heart, they are a mysterious and yet pervasive spiritual force that has influenced mystics, artists, scientists and many others since the time of Prophet Muhammed.

On November 2nd you will have the opportunity to experience the sufi spirit of love on a journey of remembrance with film, poetry, music, zikr and dance. Devoted local artist will take us on a soulful journey into the heart of religious traditions, rocking us in the gentleness of water and awakening us with the vibrancy of fire.

Close the language-door, open the love-window, and remember that there are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

Film excerpts from our documentary Wajd: Music, Politics, & Ecstasy

Zikr, Sufi Whirling and Persian-Ottoman Music with
Ali Razmi – Setar & Vocals
Amar Chebib – Oud & Bendir
Jeremy Therrien – Ney
Nathaniel Huard – Riq & Daf
Lindsey Ridgway – Whirling
Zamir Dhanji – Hang Drum and Poetry
Seemi Ghazi – Qu’ranic recitation, Persian Poetry, and Zikr

North Indian Tabla wizardry, ghazal renditions, and Kathak Dance by Cassius Khan & Amika Kushawa:

A musical journey of global spiritual traditions with DJ Ash:

Visiting monks from Dzongkar Choede Monastery in India will be present to bless the evening and receive all our beautiful offerings!

Delicious Chai and snacks from East is East will be provided by donation.

Tickets: $20 Suggested Donation (no one turned away from lack of funds)

Net Proceeds will go to Dzonkar Choede Monastery to support education and artistic training for Tibetan refugee children.

Please check out our Facebook page for more information
Please visit our Eventbrite page to get your tickets in advance as availability is limited!

October 25, 2012 by Write a Comment
Under: Blog

We’re Back! Screening tomorrow @ Islamic Arts Revival Series + VIFF + October events + VLOG #11!

Hi Everyone!

After taking some time off after an intense Kickstarter campaign to reground and enjoy the beautiful nature around us, we are back on track preparing for the Vancouver International Film Festival and our new post-production/distribution strategy. We are speed dating with industry professionals at VIFF, making sure we’ve done our homework, and speaking to the right people before we go into a few months of editing hibernation. That will make sure we have a clear vision before we edit the film of where it will most likely be screening. Hurrah! We are still hunting for a good story editor, being as picky as possible with limited funds to get someone whose vision is in line with ours and understands our goal.


Here is where you can catch up with us if you are in Vancouver in October:

October 4th – At the world premiere of Velcro Ripper’s film ‘Occupy Love’ @ VIFF 9pm (You can also catch the film on the 6th of October at 12pm and the 10th at 12:45pm)

October 6th: At the Universal Kirtan with Amir Peter O’loughlin @ 8pm at Yoga on

October 7th: A Film Panel on Arts, Politics and Spirituality for a Golden Age @ 7pm at The Hive downtown. Stay tuned for more details on this event with filmmakers Dima Alansari & Amar Chebib of “Wajd: Music, Politics, & Ecstasy”, filmmakers Ian Mackenzie & Velcrow Ripper of “Occupy Love”, musicians Bocephus King & Buckman Coe, & Moderated by Zamir Dhanji!

Thanks to all those of you who have stayed in touch and continue to support us by whatever means. We truly appreciate you.


Salam Films

September 26, 2012 by Write a Comment
Under: Blog

Congrats to us all! WAJD is on its way to the editing room :)

So we took a moment to meditate in a circle and THANK YOU ALL as well as this project for manifesting itself through us We came back to our computers to find that WE MADE OUR SECOND TARGET OF 20,000!

Wow, what a mission this campaign has been. Thank you all for your patience and generousity.  We will sleep deeply tonight knowing that this period is now finished. We plan to wake up to set a clear intention about how to move forward into post-production and give this film the attention/resources it deserves.

We will continue to be in touch with all of you generous souls as the process unfolds. For now, we’ll leave you with this quote we love on gratitude:

“Giving thanks for abundance
is sweeter than the abundance itself.
Should one who is absorbed with the Generous One
be distracted by the gift?
Thankfulness is the soul of beneficence;
abundance is but the husk,
for thankfulness brings you to the place where the Beloved lives.
Abundance yields heedlessness;
thankfulness, alertness:
hunt for bounty with the snare of gratitude to the King.”

- Mevlana Jalaluddine Rumi
Mathnawi III:2895-2897
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
“Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance”

Love & Gratitude,
Salam Films Team

September 9, 2012 by Write a Comment
Under: Blog

Our Kickstarter Campaign runs until September 8th

Thanks to your amazing support our Kickstarter campaign has surpassed our original goal of $15,000! With less than 48 hours to go, we’re working hard to reach $20,000 – the additional funds of which will go towards kicking the film up a notch by hiring a story consultant and doing a professional sound mix. We are immensely grateful for the support we’re receiving and we’re committed to making WAJD: Music, Politics & Ecstasy the best that it can possibly be! Please continue spreading the word!! LOVE & GRATITUDE -Salam Films Team.

September 8, 2012 by Write a Comment
Under: Blog

WE MADE IT! 4 days to go & $16,150 raised! New goal of $20,000 to hire a story/picture editor and do a final sound mix @ a professional studio!

THANK YOU TO OUR 119 BACKERS! We had a powerful weekend retreat in Whistler, BC with Sufi teacher Kabir Helminski. We were completely immersed in the beauty of nature, music, friends and spiritual practice. It was also really amazing to come back to find we made and are now exceeding our minimum funding goal (we are 107% funded)!YES YES YES WE CAN’T THANK YOU ENOUGH!

As mentioned in the budget though, $15,000 was the MINIMUM we needed to complete the film in a very low-budget DIY kind of way. We are now hoping to raise an extra $5,000 to take this film to the next level. Here is what we would do with the extra $5,000 (now only $3,850):

*hire a professional story/picture editor that can help take our 90+ hours (we got some amazing footage at the retreat this weekend) and help cut it into an award-winning feature length documentary that will take this message of Love far and wide.
*book a sound mixing studio that will master and finalize our sound design into a smooth stereo-sound finish that will greatly enhance the quality of the sound/music in the film.

Please share our Kickstarter page, vlogs and teasers with your contacts TODAY so we can make it to $20,000 and give this film the expertise/resources it deserves.

Stay tuned for a new post on the Kickstarter Blog to be featuring.. yours truly.. WAJD: Music, Politics & Ecstasy!

Salam Films team

September 5, 2012 by Write a Comment
Under: Blog

8 days & $5,800 to go! + MUSIC IS FEMININE video teaser

THANK YOU TO OUR 94 BACKERS! So far we have raised 61% of our target so we are doing pretty well. But we still have $5,781 to raise and 10 days to do it otherwise WE LOSE EVERYTHING RAISED SO FAR! Even though we know that statistically most KICKSTARTER campaigns usually make their target in the last few days- we are feeling the pressure and WE CAN’T DO IT WITHOUT YOU. Please share our Kickstarter page, vlogs and teasers with your contacts TODAY so we can raise the momentum and make our target in time.

Its Saturday morning and we are blissful and serene at the Threshold Sufi Retreat in Whistler, BC. What a gift to be here amongst all these beautiful souls. It has re-inspired us to spread peace and understanding through conscious cinema. As we work hard to promote this film, we also surrender to the inherent abundance and wisdom of the universe. We know that all we can truly do is set a pure intention, and allow LOVE to do its bidding ;)

If you’re in Vancouver tonight don’t forget to check out the Sufi Order Vancouver’s very own Amir Peter O’Loughlin’s Kirtan @ 8pm @ Yoga on 7th 156 7th Ave. E. which takes place the 1st Saturday of every month. Our Web-Tech Guru, Atef Abdelkefi, will be there representing Salam Films and handing out our postcards reminding everyone of our October 6th Kirtan at the same venue! All proceeds for that Kirtan go to this film… WE WANNA SEE YOU THERE!

Finally, we leave you with this sweet teaser (MUSIC IS FEMININE) about the role of women in Islam featuring Cemalnur Sargut, an internationally renown Sufi teacher and President of the Turkish Women’s Association.

Wishing you all a beautiful weekend and urging you to help us realize our mission. We start editing September 18th (Dima’s birthday) inshallah..

Salam Films team

September 1, 2012 by Write a Comment
Under: Blog

10 DAYS TO GO! $6000 left to raise and we are feeling the heat! + VIDEO BLOG #9 @ Wanderlust Yoga Festival

THANK YOU TO OUR 90 BACKERS! So far we have raised 60% of our target so we are doing pretty well. But we still have $6000 to raise and 10 days to do it otherwise WE LOSE EVERYTHING RAISED SO FAR! Please share our Kickstarter page, vlogs and teasers with your contacts asap so we can raise the momentum and make our target in time. We appreciate the support and look forward to sharing the film with you when it’s finished.

Taran Davies, an awesome producer and mentor who Dima had the pleasure of working with on the IMAX film ‘Journey to Mecca’, recently backed our project! Check out his latest IMAX 3D film JERUSALEM! Also Michael Wolfe, poet, author and President/Executive Producer of Unity Productions also backed our project! Michael is doing some fantastic work in dispelling stereotypes and representing a more holistic picture of Islam in the West. Please check out his latest film, Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World.

So Wanderlust, the yoga festival in Whistler, BC was amazing! We only had a day to spend there as we’re super busy with this campaign, but the 4 hour journey (normally 2 hours) with traffic from Vancouver was totally worth it and really made our weekend. We did some acro-yoga, promoted the film, and watched MC Yogi and Michael Franti perform! The good news is we captured the moment for those of you who couldn’t come.. check out our video blog below ;)

Now we are getting ready for the Threshold Sufi Retreat this weekend in Whistler. The theme of the retreat is “Spiritual Energy and the Refinement of Character” and is being led by Kabir Helminski, an internationally renown author/Sufi teacher and key participant in our film. Amar had the chance to meet Sheikh Kabir and his wonderful wife and prolific author, Camille Helminski in Konya, Turkey during the Sheb-i Arus ofJalaluddin Rumi last December, when thousands of people gather each year to celebrate the passing of the beloved Sufi master and poet. Amar also attended a retreat of Kabir and Camille’s in March at the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California and was deeply touched by the depth of their presence. Unfortunately Camille recently broke her hip and is therefore going through rehabilitation and will not be able to grace us with her presence this year. Please send your love/prayers to her for a smooth/swift recovery.

In any case, it will be amazing as a good part of the Vancouver Sufi community will be going up, as well as Ali Razmi, the talented Persian musician, to take part in the weekend of reflection and spiritual practices, movement and music, silence and friendship. We are looking forward to it and hope to see you some of you there!

Salam Films team

August 30, 2012 by Write a Comment
Under: Blog

14 days left! 68 backers and $9000 to go + MUSIC IS SACRED video teaser

Hi Everyone,

BIG THANK YOU to all our 68 backers that have helped us raise $6,174. We appreciate your support in getting this film made but we only have 14 days to go and we still need to raise $9000! If you’ve backed us then please spread the word far and wide; if each of you tells 6 people who each put in $25! BOOM we’re ready to roll.. well edit actually.. but you know what we mean ;)

Last night the WAJD crew went to Krishna Das Kirtan in Vancouver, the room was totally full and the energy was breathtaking. It’s always interesting to see someone live that you’ve heard on recordings for a long time. He had some captivating (and hilarious) stories to tell from his travels to India and time spent with his spiritual teacher, Neem Karoli Baba. The moral of the story? ‘Let’s all get lost in Love’

Today the Salam Films team are going up to Wanderlust in Whistler BC to get together with thousands of people from around the world to celebrate the arts, yoga, music, nature and life! We’ll be working hard spreading the word about the film and talking to people about this campaign and how they can contribute. We even have postcards (or just cards because you don’t put them in the mail). If you’re gonna be up there then send us a message and we’ll meet up!

As promised we have a teaser of the film for you today: Enjoy MUSIC IS SACRED. The main character, Ibrahim Muslimani, was just 17 years old at the time of filming and yet was the most demanded percussionist in Aleppo. He grew up attending the different Sufi lodges, following in the  footsteps of the vast majority of great composers/musicians living in what was once the most musically influential city in the Levant, and the second most important city in the Ottoman Empire (after Istanbul). Ibrahim has recently lost his younger brother in the bombardment of Aleppo so please send your prayers to him, his family, and to the people of Syria.

Love & Light

Salam Films


August 25, 2012 by Write a Comment
Under: Blog

17 days left! 64 backers and this film is on fire! + VIDEO BLOG #8!

Hi Everyone!

Once again, A BIG THANK YOU to all our supporters thus far, WE APPRECIATE YOU!

Last weekend couldn’t have been better! On Saturday we were at Vancouver’s biggest free Kirtan enjoying the beautiful weather and hanging out with friends. Amar performed with Amir and Chloe O’Loughlin, Sparrow Grace, Thom Evans, and Holly Burke. We even saw some of you there; thanks for coming out to celebrate love, music and dance! Check out a short clip of the performance in the new video blog as well as several photos (courtesy of Michael Julien Berz) posted below!

On Sunday we attended an online Sohbet (spiritual discourse) with Sherif Baba, a Sufi Sheikh in Istanbul, did sema (Sufi whirling) afterwards, followed by a Sufi picnic at Jericho beach! Monday we took a little trip to North Van for the Mevlevi-affiliatedThreshold meditation and zikr.. still feeling the resonance!

So we’ve managed to raise over $3000 in the past 4 days alone – amazing! But we need your help to keep going – whatever you’re doing is working and we want you to keep on doing it so we can go further. If you know anyone who would be interested in donating to our film or interested in any way, please don’t hold off reaching out to them until later. Let’s keep up the momentum!

Love and Gratitude,

Salam Films Team

August 23, 2012 by Write a Comment
Under: Blog

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