Next week will see the Knoxville premiere of a mini-documentary about local restaurateur Yassin Terou, owner of Yassin’s Falafel House. The film, made by the mobile payment company Square, is the first in its new short-film series featuring small business owners who use Square’s service. The overall goal of the series is to reinforce “that dreams of any kind and from everywhere can be achieved when we empower small-business owners with the right tools,” according to a statement from Square.
Jack Dorsey, CEO and founder of both Twitter and Square, will attend the invitation-only premier Thursday at Yassin’s.
The 10-minute film will be simultaneously live-streamed on Facebook and Twitter, along with a question-and-answer afterward by Dorsey, from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Afterward it will remain available on social media sites and the Square website.
A brief teaser for the film, which features Terou’s efforts to establish himself and his family in the United States after fleeing Syria, is shared on Yassin’s Facebook page. It shows Terou in reflective moments alone, as a voice-over shares the uncertainty surrounding his decision to come to America as a refugee. “A lot of my Arabic friends, they scared to come here, like, ‘You will not have a good life in America,’” he explains.
That has not been the case for Terou. The day after the 2016 presidential election, Terou gained widespread attention after a Mercury story about Knoxville residents gathering in his Walnut Street restaurant to show support for refugees and immigrants in the community.
He says Square came across newspaper stories about him and asked to visit over the Thanksgiving holidays, when they interviewed him and followed him around town, at the restaurant, and at a meal he hosted for community friends at Thanksgiving.
He was surprised to be approached by the company, but says, “I want people to see if you have a dream and work for what you want, you will have success here in business and life.”
S. Heather Duncan has won numerous awards for her feature writing and coverage of the environment, government, education, business and local history during her 15-year reporting career. Originally from Western North Carolina, Heather has worked for Radio Free Europe, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting in London, and several daily newspapers. Heather spent almost a dozen years at The Telegraph in Macon, Ga., where she spent most of her time covering the environment or writing project-investigations that provoked changes such as new laws related to day care and the protection of environmentally-sensitive lands. You can reach Heather at firstname.lastname@example.org
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