Mark Abouzeid Keynote Speech on Epic Failure

Epic Failure Conference, Florence, September 2015

What did you learn from your failures, both professional and personal? How did these failures lead you to create a specific project? Ultimately, how did these failures bring you to where you are today?

Mark Abouzeid shares his trials, exploits and lessons learned in a rare personal talk on the importance of Epic Failure.

About Mark Abouzeid

Born in 1962 to a Lebanese American immigrant, Mark Abouzeid has been filming the oral histories, living culture and human endeavours of people around the globe for over 15 years.  His short film, “Interview with an Assassin”, was shortlisted by the Florence Film Festival and his documentary work on the Dying Seas will be the centrepiece of exhibits at the Maritime Museums of Valencia, Barcelona and EU Maritime Museum in Marseille.

He is currently making a feature length documentary film, Growing Cedars in Air, and a short film, Finding Lebanon.  Each are based on Abouzeid’s own personal discovery of his roots and what it means to be Lebanese, today.

About Epic Failure Conference

A process is not always linear, but non-sequential and always navigated by failures. Consequently the goal of EPIC FAILURES is to gather professionals into sharing their stories, their process; how they overcame their mistakes and how failures, more often than not, open new doors. We live in an area where there is an over emphasis on achievement and so this creates an alliterated vision of reality. The stories of errors are not told; yet success is always paved by mistakes! We need to embrace our past flaws in order to move forward. Creativity and Failure go hand in hand. EPIC FAILURES is a conference talk that celebrates creativity and entrepreneurship, built through failures, by providing a networking-platform across industries and communities. We are a bimestrial event, hosting between four to five speakers.

Mark Abouzeid & Cedars Productions Launch “My Lebanon” Initiative

My name is Mark Abouzeid and I am the Director of Growing Cedars in Air. I am Lebanese; I wasn’t brought up Lebanese, but I am beginning to understand just how Lebanese I am.

Last year, before my father died, I interviewed him about my own family heritage, something he had never spoken of before. That moment was the start of a personal discovery which became the basis for the upcoming film.

During the course of getting to know the Lebanese people, I came across this poem by Gibran at the same time as the people I met spoke with similar pride of their homeland. So I decided to start asking anyone, “What is your Lebanon?”

The results have been incredible and the impact overwhelming. The question reminded Lebanese to appreciate what matters, caused foreign viewers to question their view of Lebanon, and helped me find my own Lebanon.

The response has inspired us to launch My Lebanon as a social initiative through videos and with the help of social media. Anyone can contribute with a My Lebanon video. In this video, are just a few My Lebanon examples.

What does My Lebanon mean to you? Is it an album of photos, an object, a person, a song, a poem?

Share your Lebanon with us and you might find yourself in in our next My Lebanon video or in an international feature film. Send links, video files, or written submissions to cedars@markabouzeid.com, share your Lebanon with others and witness the impact of your statement.

Visit http://cedars.markabouzeid.com or on Facebook: Growing Cedars in Air for more information.

“Lebanon: A Day in the Life” video short by Mark Abouzeid & Cedars Productions

With original music by Rama’s Whisper, Growing Cedars in Air presents 24 hours in the lives of the People of Lebanon, a teaser for the upcoming short film, Finding Lebanon, and feature length documentary film, Growing Cedars in Air. Share this video with your family and friends, spread the word and let your curiosity guide you inside a new Lebanon.


”Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to go home. Not my parents’ house in whatever country they happened to be living in, at that time. But my ancestral home, the land of my dreams: burnt earth under olive trees and rocky hillsides shadowed by secular cedars, their roots reaching deep into the core of the earth….my earth…my roots.”

Mark Abouzeid, director of Growing Cedars in Air.


Ask anyone you meet what they know about Lebanon and you will invariably receive one or both of the following replies:

“Oh, yeah, Beirut! It was once the Riviera of the Middle East. Great place to party!” Or “A damn shame what war has done to that country, poor people.”

If Lebanon has seen nothing but war and parties for the last 40 years with no culture of its own, then how could it have provided so much to world culture in the sciences, arts, design, fashion, music, world politics, business and entertainment?

“Growing Cedars in Air” is an indie documentary video project about personal discovery of what it means to be Lebanese…about the living heritage and unique culture that has allowed Lebanese to flourish wherever they settle.

The films gather Lebanese people of all walks, local and abroad, to tell their own stories of Lebanon and their lives across recent history, including:

Edd Abbas, Lyricist / Producer; Rania Abouzeid, Award Winning Journalist; Aziza, Lebanese Singer and Songwriter; Michel Elefteriades, the Emperor of Nowheristan; Jennifer El Hage, fashion and graphic designer; Robert Fisk, Award Winning Journalist/Writer; Barbara Massaad, International Gourmand Cookbook Award recipient; Kamal Mouzawak, founder of Souk el Tayeb; Mohamad Rifaii, Art Director and Visual Artist; Laila Sarkis, aka Djette, female DJ in Beirut; Rania Tabbara, Artist and Art promoter; Rami Tibi of Rama’s Whisper.

Mark Abouzeid in Forbes

Quoted in Forbes!

“Mark Abouzeid, economist and cultural documentarian, who has followed Oman’s economy closely, agrees.

“People living and working in the area, possibly in countries with draconian laws on alcohol, who visit Oman regularly, and, yes, do like their drink, may choose other holiday destinations,” he says. “But the fastest growing sector in Oman is cultural and natural tourism. These tourists tend to accept local laws and adapt. They’re looking for something different and will be drawn to Oman’s parks, beaches, natural reserve, etc, and will willingly accept new laws.”

Even labor shouldn’t be affected, according to Abouzeid, who says petroleum businessmen and engineers would likely be put off by the changes, but will go regardless “since work requires them to, as they do in Saudi Arabia.”

“Overall, Oman may suffer slightly, but I don’t think it will do significant damage to hotels over the long-haul,” he says.

“It will require the Omani destinations to promote heavily on the cultural and natural aspects of the country and reinforce the cultural norms that make it a unique and wonderful destination.”

– See more at: http://www.forbesmiddleeast.com/…/will-oman…/articleid/7731

October Storytelling Workshop | using words and images to capture your audience


AT A GLANCE

Starting October 18th
Lessons: Saturday October 18th & 25th, Nov 1st & 8th from 11:00 to 13:00.

Cost: €250 all inclusive, payable at preregistration online via credit card or paypal on registration

Pre-registration required:

Workshop Registration Form


This October, I will be teaching a special workshop together with published writer, Ela Vasilescu on Storytelling using words and images for students of all ages and experience.

Stand out, spread your message and make a change through words and image.

Good stories surprise us. They have compelling characters. They make us think, make us feel. They stick in our minds and help us remember ideas and concepts in a way that numbers and text on a slide with a bar graph don’t.

Unfortunately, in the era of PowerPoint and Facebook status updates, many of us have forgotten how to tell a good story. As blogs, vlogs, selfies and social/work sharing tools transform our digital lives, storytelling is becoming uniquely essential. And as we spend increasing amounts of time consuming content by the streamful, storytelling is a skill that every professional and private individual will need to master.

There’s a Native American proverb that says, “Those who tell the stories rule the world.” As technology increasingly intertwines us, it is increasingly true. It’s our job as businesses and parents and community leaders to make sure the good guys are the ones telling the best stories.

And like any skill, we’re going to need practice at it.


Lesson Plan

The course will meet four times on Saturdays starting October 18th from 11:00 to 13:00 at a meeting place in central chosen for that specific lesson plan. Each lesson includes a discussion on technique and theory followed by practical application in a creative and enjoyable environment. Each student is given individual guidance based on their specific knowledge, insight and experience.

Saturday, October 18th
Perfecting delivery | how to tell a joke.

Saturday, October 25th
Balancing words and imagery | cave paintings, bedtime stories and Powerpoint.

Saturday, November 1st
Creating harmony and rhythm | all photos, no words.

Saturday, November 8th –
Defining a voice and keeping the thread | blogs, updates and family tales.


Mark Abouzeid, Visual Storyteller | Mark Abouzeid is an award winning freelance visual journalist & storyteller based in Florence, Italy. Abouzeid has recently returned from work around the Mediterranean capturing the oral histories of the sea faring cultures as part of the OralMed Project.

His years of experience in the field, often under extreme conditions, allows him to build compelling features and documentaries based upon his creative, sensual and bold imagery. He regular teaches workshops and at Universities, foreign and Italian, around Florence.

Ela Vasilescu, Author | Ela Vasilescu is a published writer and a freelance journalist based in Florence, Italy. She is currently working on her new book of short stories and is part of the Writers Group in Florence. She has created and conducted the journalistic project The human behind the artist which consists in interviews with English speaking artists living in Florence.

She believes that stories can make us look inward, to explore and verbalize our emotions better; she is always on a quest to finding those stories which cannot be seen with the naked eye. She has conducted a series of theater workshops and this year she has created a storytelling workshop for children “Let’s invent stories together!”


Lesson Details & Requirements

The workshop is open to any individual, aged 16+, who wants to improve their storytelling skills and understand better how to apply it to their work and personal life. Each lesson starts in an agreed location selected for the theme. No prior knowledge or experience in photography, writing or public speaking required.

This is supposed to be fun…students can bring iPods to listen to their own music when working individually independently but will be asked to remove them when working in groups. Comfortable clothes are recommended since we will be moving and working with basic art supplies (scissors, paste, markers) from time to time.

Please feel free to call me regarding the course or ask any questions: 339/7483966 or email mja@markabouzeid.com.

Dre il Magnifico as the launch cover of New European

new_european_cover

The New European

Mark Abouzeid’s seminal work The New New World series has been chosen to represent the New European on the cover of the launch edition.

“The Faces of the New Europe”. Photographer Mark Abouzeid, with his project to re-enact classic Renaissance paintings with modern immigrants, shows how New Europeans are making Europe wealthier.

What do 21th century musician Dre Love, and Lorenzo de Medici, Italian patron born in 1449, have in common? According to renowned photo journalist Mark Abouzeid, they both represent versions of what Europe was, is and should aspire to be.

Full article: http://www.unitee.eu/book/the_new_european/