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The New American Dream

Words:

Edd Norval
October 23, 2018

Filmmaker Mohammad Gorjestani introduces us to Yassin's Falafel House in Knoxville, Tennessee. The eatery is a microcosm of what a society can function like if the intention and desire for change is there. It's the new American Dream.

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Every colour, ethnicity, religion, age and gender are welcome. It was with this idea, first and foremost, that Yassin' restaurant came to be. It was never as some cheap political stunt or search for likes though, it was because Yassin and his family really knew what it was like to not feel welcome somewhere.


He arrived with his wife to the US in 2011 from Syria, hoping that he could return soon once the wounds of conflict began to suture - unfortunately, this never really happened. Integration was difficult, but after the birth of his daughter and the opening of his shop - he began to see his new house as their new home.


This film is a portrait of American life that holds dear all the same values as a good old Western film - hard-work, desire, dreams and the unbreakable will to make them happen. The film itself is simple, powerful and if nothing else, will make you hungry.


Although this was filmed over a year ago, this month Yassin's Falafel House in Knoxville, Tennessee was named the 'Nicest Place in America' by Reader's Digest. This isn't a sob-story, the kind of which are being regularly churned out and proliferated daily by American media, rather it's a heartwarming tale of perseverance in the face of adversity.


His newfound local celebrity hasn't changed the man one bit. "We only know how to make falafel and chicken." he concedes, although the highly-rated eatery is more than just that. His attitude is not only humbling, but inspiring and infectious. He wasn't given an easy path, but was still able to forge a life for himself and his family in a foreign land. He advocates for passion, community and the idea of getting it done, on never dwelling on the little things - instead looking at the big picture.


Every day we are fed stories demonising either the people or the politicians. In amongst all the noise are these stories. Imagine the changes we'd see if our front-pages and newsfeed started filling up with this.

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