Three Cities

It Must Be Heaven directed by Elia Suleiman (Palestine/France/Qatar/Germany/Canada) 2019 presents a sly parody of three cultures seen through the eyes of a film director.


Suleiman plays the main character in the film begining in Bethlehem with personal exchanges between him and his neighbors.

Much of the story takes place in a surrealistic Paris before moving on to New York, and concluding back home in Bethlehem, which has changed very little during his absence abroad.

It Must Be Heaven is a slow-paced, meditative work requiring a degree of patience to fully enjoy.

The film screened twice in the Bay Area during the 23rd Annual Arab Film Festival ending today.

Contact Arab Film And Media Institute for more information.

copyright © 2019 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Ti Amo

Blame Freud directed by Paolo Genovese (Italy) 2014 follows the challenging pursuit of love by three sisters and their psychoanalyst father. It touches on difficult issues with a light touch, primarily from a woman’s perspective, inspired by American romantic comedy.


Up To The World directed by Allessandro Lunardelli (Italy) 2013 definitely takes place in a man’s world periodically punctuated by outbursts of rage. It deals with a fraternal relationship as one brother pursues his younger sibling who is following a romantic infatuation.

Both films were screened during the 2014 New Italian Cinema mini-festival at the Vogue Theatre in San Francisco, an annual event presented by the San Francisco Film Society.

copyright © 2014 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Arab USA

May In The Summer directed by Cherien Dabis (Jordan/USA/Qatar) 2013 is about an American woman who goes to Amman, Jordan for her wedding. Delays, complications, and family drama threaten to undermine what initially seemed a sensible decision.

It was the opening-night film of the 18th Annual Arab Film Festival in San Francisco and will screen again 22 November 2014 at the Museum Of Photographic Art in San Diego.


The Citizen directed by Sam Kadi (USA) 2013 focuses on the experiences of a Lebanese man who arrives in New York hopeful of beginning a new life there. Unfortunately he lands at JFK the day before 9/11 and is repeatedly challenged despite his good deeds.

Both films deal sensitively with cross-cultural issues. The first from an independent perspective, the second one more mainstream. I recommend these two films.

The Arab Film Festival continues this week in San Francisco venues and then moves to Berkeley, Oakland, Los Angeles, and San Diego. For program information and tickets contact the AFF web site.

copyright © 2014 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

New Yorkers

Neither the content nor the setting of Love is Strange directed by Ira Sachs 2014 has anything to do with the Mediterranean aside from the name of the cinematographer, Christos Voudouris. However, all in all this is a quality production bringing together both wonderful onscreen and off-screen talent.


After nearly forty years together, Ben and George decide to get married in a touching ceremony and celebration that brings together friends and family. But the unexpected consequences of their decision leads to their separation while they try to resolve a difficult housing dilemma.

The film opens 29 August 2014 at three Bay Area venues: Landmark Embarcadero in San Francisco, Landmark Shattuck in Berkeley, and Camera in San Jose.

copyright © 2014 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Jewish Film Fest 34

The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival 34 will screen work in Berkeley, Oakland, Palo Alto, San Francisco, and San Rafael from 24 July to 10 August 2014.


Narrative features include: Arabani (Israel) 2013: Father And Son (Poland 2013); For A Woman (France) 2013; Magic Men (Israel) 2013; Run Boy Run (France/Germany) 2013; Snails In The Rain (Israel) 2013; and Swim Little Fish Swim (USA/France) 2013.

For more information and tickets contact SFJFF.

copyright © 2014 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

French Fusion

Chinese Puzzle directed by Cédric Klapsich (France/USA 2013) 2013 is the third film of a trilogy that began with Spanish Apartment in 2002.


In the initial film Xavier (Roman Duris) is an economics graduate student who goes to Barcelona for a year as part of the Erasmus program.

In the 2005 sequel, Russian Dolls, Xavier and his friends reunite during a wedding in Saint Petersburg.

The newest work begins in Paris with a breakup of the ten-year relationship between Xavier and Wendy. She moves to New York to be with another man.

Xavier soon follows to be closer to their two children. The challenges and adventures that unfold are fertile material for the novel he’s writing.

More information about the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival is available from the San Francisco Film Society.

copyright © 2014 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Bulgarian Beginnings

The Ottoman Empire bridged three continents and the subjects of the Sublime Porte included people of various cultures and languages.  Even though the Sultan ruled from Constantinople, governance of the empire involved a wide network of advisors and other officials.

Biography Of An Empire by Christine Philliou, University of California Press, 2011 focuses on one member of the government two centuries ago. Stoiko Stoikov was born in the 1770’s in a small town situated in what is now Bulgaria. He eventually abandoned his native language and became assimilated into a Greek-speaking milieu.

He changed his name to Stephanos Volgarides after marriying a woman of the phanariot class and settled in the capital. The majority of the Greek-speaking elite lived in the Phanar (crescent) District, relatively close to the Palace. These were a wealthy, educated, mobile minority with extensive family and business ties in other countries, especially the capitals of Western European nations.

As a government official, one of the many complicated issues Volgarides addressed was the Greek revolution of 1821. He chose to defend the state and declared his position publicly. It was a perilous time and he risked imprisonment or death but managed to survive. His work in the Translation Office was vital because the Empire was increasingly being challenged by key Western nations.

Biography Of An Empire not only examines Volgarides’ rise but also traces the importance of family relationships. Philliou found a wealth of information about a somewhat unknown man but there were many more like him who were indispensible to the Ottoman administration. Her book is an invaluable resource for understanding the inner working of the Empire.

Remember Us by Jason C. Mavrovitis, Golden Fleece Publishing, 2007 also begins in Bulgaria around 1881. The author chose to tell the personal story of his ancestors as a novel, using their real names but making up the dialogue. It’s a more emotionally satisfying work but some of the early episodes are awkwardly crafted.

There are several generations and an ever-increasing cast of characters as the story moves over time from Sozopolis to Brooklyn, where the author was born. The family patriarch, Stefan Tsvetkov, married Theofano adopting her last name, Kapidaghlis, and Hellenizing his first name to Konstantinos.

As the book progresses, Mavrovitis weaves together the journeys of both the maternal and paternal side of his family. He covers the turmoil in the Balkans as nationalism rises and ethnic groups are pitted one against another, before introducing the immigrant enclaves of the early Twentieth Century in Chicago and New York.

It’s a compassionate portrayal of hardship, endurance, love, betrayal, kindness, loyalty, and hope.  A generous gift to those who laid the foundation of the life he built upon in America.

copyright © 2012 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved


Nikos 2011

I publish under the name N A Diaman, however my friends call me Nikos.

Born 1 November 1936 in San Francisco, a fourth generation Californian and the first United States native in my family. Both parents and three of my grandparents originated on Ikaria, a small island in the Eastern Aegean.

I graduated from the University of Southern California, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1958, as a Humanities major and Television minor.

Lived in Los Angeles, New York and Paris, before returning home to San Francisco in 1972.

Traveled extensively in Mexico and also visited Greece, Italy and Turkey.

I strongly identify as a Mediterranean.

The author of ten books published by Persona Press, San Francisco. The last two titles are 2009 travel memoirs: Paris Dreams and Athens Apartment.

Books available at Amazon & Powell’s

image & text copyright © 2012 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved