Private Project


When relatives come to visit from their homeland, Salma must choose between being the daughter her mother wants to present to them, and being herself.

  • Lara Bedewi
    Writer & Director
  • Jamie Agins
  • Lara Bedewi
  • Zoe Culver
  • Emma Wolynez
  • Deema Turkomani
    Key Cast
  • Lara J. Barry
    Key Cast
  • Randa Radwan
    Key Cast
  • Fahad Ahmad
    Key Cast
  • Abdullah Naser
    Key Cast
  • Dylan Lepre
  • Julia DeFusco
  • William Michael
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Genres:
    Drama, Family
  • Runtime:
    12 minutes 20 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 9, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    10,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    Arabic, English
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital, ProRes 4444
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Drexel University
Director Biography

Lara Bedewi is a first generation Arab-American writer, director, and multimedia artist from Philadelphia whose films explore vulnerability and belonging through the lens of culture, ancestry, and community. Lara is a 2021 George and Rose B. Ashe Arts Scholarship recipient and was selected as a 2022 BlackStar Film Festival official screener. She is a 2023 Cinema & Television BIPOC Filmmaker Grant awardee and recently screened her work at the Drexel University Film & Television showcase.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

As an Arab-American woman with a mixed Lebanese, Egyptian, and Palestinian background, the experiences depicted in "To'oborni" are deeply personal for me. Having left everything to immigrate to America, my family made strong efforts to preserve their culture and values from back home. However, living in the states for many years created a rift across generations, leading the younger members of my family to lose reverence for some of these customs. Growing up, I often found myself at the center of this conflict, just as Salma, the protagonist of this film, has to choose whether to play into lost traditions for her mother’s sake, or stay true to herself.

"To'oborni" is one of those untranslatable phrases. In Arabic, it literally means “may you put my casket in the ground,” the subtext being, “so that I don’t have to live a single day on this earth without you”. Although it sounds somber, “To’oborni” is a beautiful expression of unconditional love that embodies complex family dynamics, both in this film and in my community.

This film portrays three generations of Arab women struggling with self-image, tradition, and reputation. In directing “To’oborni”, my goal was to color each role with nuance, being careful to subvert the tropes found within our community that depict complex humans as one-note. Though we may be capable of inflicting hurt upon those dear to us in the name of love, we are also capable of profound compassion. That is at the heart of “To’oborni”.