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Alumni Spotlight: Laith Majali produces film, gears up to deliver May Commencement address

April 7, 2010
Laith Majali

Laith Majali

Alumnus and acclaimed filmmaker Laith Majali ’05 will deliver Elon University’s 120th Commencement address scheduled May 22, Under the Oaks in front of West Residence Hall. But in the five years since his graduation, he has been a constant source of support for students, faculty and staff in the School of Communications. He returns to campus several times during the year and lends a hand in the Elon in Los Angeles summer program. He valued his education at Elon and now shares his wealth of experience as a filmmaker, editor and photographer.

“Elon is where I got my base and was allowed to develop my own projects,” Majali says. “Doing my own projects and seeking out internships are the main things that have helped me out. And having mentors like professor Ray Johnson and (staff member) J. McMerty to look at my work and help me out, that was the big thing.”

Majali came to Elon in 2001 as the university’s first King Hussein of Jordan Scholar. He quickly distinguished himself as a campus leader, becoming an Isabella Cannon Leadership Fellow and Elon Ambassador, and joining the Intercultural Relations Club. In the days following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Majali served as a unifying voice during campus gatherings, sharing his Arabic culture with fellow students.

Embracing Elon’s engaged learning philosophy, Majali was active in campus media, regularly volunteering to videotape athletics events and Elon Student Television programs in addition to working on his own film projects. Called a “true student of film and photography,” he often could be found working late into the night in the School of Communications, honing his editing skills. In 2002, he received an Aegis Award for a music video he produced about his hometown.

‘CAPTAIN ABU RAED’

As a student, Laith displayed tremendous potential and promise as a filmmaker, and early in 2008 his hard work paid off when “Captain Abu Raed,” a feature film he produced and edited, won the World Cinema Audience Award for Drama at the Sundance Film Festival. (READ MORE ABOUT LAITH’S FILM.) The honor was one of the top bestowed on filmmakers at Sundance.

“From the moment we started, we never knew how far we could go, but we always thought good about it,” he says. “It’s gratifying to see all our efforts and the collaboration of 120 people from 16 countries end up in such a beautiful film.”

Since the film’s release, it has been screened all over the world. It is now available on DVD. (READ MORE ABOUT THE DVD RELEASE.)

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