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Raed El Rafei

Film and Digital Media Ph.D, 2023
participatory documentary, first-person film narratives, video essays, multimedia storytelling, queer cinema, middle-eastern studies, film/media studies
Research Interests: 

Rafei’s dissertation examines contemporary queer moving image works from Lebanon and its diaspora through an interdisciplinary approach using film and media studies, Middle Eastern studies, queer theory, and ethnography. The project demonstrates that queer Lebanese artists have forged a unique queer imaginary drawing from local and regional cultures, histories, and archives while adopting, contesting, and reimagining western references. Rafei argues that film and artworks from Lebanon help us understand Arab queer subjectivities in new complex ways. They produce speculative and utopian visions in response to local, regional and global contexts and realities, and they redefine the relation of the individual to the collective, be it at the communal, national, or international levels.


Rafei is an awardee of the 2022 Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellow.

Raed (El) Rafei is a Lebanese scholar, filmmaker, and multimedia journalist. Since 2004 and for over ten years, Rafei worked as print journalist covering political, social, and economic issues in Lebanon and the Middle East for local and international publications including the Daily Star and the Los Angeles Times. In 2013, as a Fulbright scholar, he obtained a Master’s degree in Journalism with a focus on video journalism from the City University of New York. He then worked as a freelance director and producer for television reports and documentaries for networks including CNN, ARTE, and Al-Jazeera. Rafei’s work also extends into independent docufiction and essay filmmaking. In collaboration with his sister, Rania Rafei, he co-wrote and co-directed his first feature film in 2012, 74 (The Reconstitution of a Struggle), a hybrid documentary about the 1974 student occupation of the American University of Beirut. The film was released at the FID Marseille film festival, where it received a national prize. It has since been screened at dozens of international film festivals, museums and art galleries around the world and received several awards. Rafei’s filmography includes other awarded essay and hybrid films: Eccomi … Eccoti (Here I am … Here you are) (2016), Salam (2017), and Al-Atlal (2021). Since 2017, Rafei has been based in San Francisco where he continues to write and make films while pursuing his PhD.