Published: May 4, 2009
Before Alan Mehanna had even reached his teens, his parents recognized
his passion for filmmaking. His family moved from their native Lebanon
to the United States to give their son his best shot at success.
A decade later, Mehanna, a University of Tampa senior, is on the verge of making his family’s dream a reality.
On May 2, Mehanna became the first-ever recipient of the Travolta
Family Inspiration Award – an honor established by actor John Travolta
and his family to recognize a young filmmaker who has overcome
Mehanna’s latest film, dubbed “One Last Stand,” was screened recently
at the Sunscreen Film Festival in the Tampa Bay area, where he received
It is a fitting honor for the young filmmaker, who recalls the
struggle of adapting to American culture in the wake of the Sept. 11
terrorist attacks, while also getting caught in the middle of conflicts
taking place in his native country.
“When I look back at my life, I am in awe of how much I have
overcome,” he said. “I have accomplished a lot thus far, but I have many
more dreams that I still want to achieve.”
The idea for “One Last Stand” came about after Mehanna and his sister
got caught in the middle of a war during a visit to Lebanon and had to
evacuate. After Sept. 11, Mehanna says many of the people he considered
friends turned against him, in some instances physically attacking him,
because of his Arab heritage. It was through filmmaking that Mehanna was
able to overcome these trials.
“I witnessed the chaos and devastation that was caused by vengeful
people,” he said. “I realized that life is the most valuable thing, and
the ability to love is the greatest gift God ever granted us.”
The film takes place in a world on the verge of a third world war and
focuses on two people chosen by God to restart human history. Mehanna
originally shot the 20-minute film for a narrative production class as
part of his film media arts major at UT. He later redid the film over
the course of seven months on a budget of $4,500 and cut the script down
to 15 minutes.
With the help of several of his fellow UT film students as well as
Tom Garrett, assistant professor of communication, Mehanna wrapped
production in the fall. The film has since premiered at the Sunscreen
Film Festival and is scheduled to be screened at this month’s Cannes
Film Festival in France.