Valley Film Festival’s Focus on Iran event and panel

The Valley Film Festival celebrated the Persian new year with a special screening of new films from Iran, one of them being Strangers in a Book, where I played the lead role of Sara. I also was a producer on this film. This event was called Focus on Iran and will took place on Saturday, March 24th at 1pm at Columbia College, Hollywood and I had the opportunity to be a part of their panel as well. I shared my experiences of growing up as an Iranian-American, while filmmaker Leyla Nejad (“Shackled”) spoke of her experiences growing up in Iran.

Focus on Iran panel

Focus on Iran showcased a compelling new wave of filmmakers who tackle a variety of genres, from animation to thrillers, and topics from abortion to transgender issues, the refugee crisis, and more.

From left to right: David Krouse, myself, Professor and Sr. Management Analyst for the City of LA Eva Bitar and filmmaker Leyla Nejad.

Here’s a list of the film’s screened:

Short Films (subject to change):

A Share of a Share (Drama/2mins)
Directed by Kaveh Jahed
A micro-short about a family struggling to live in a refugee camp.

Animal (Experimental/15mins)
Directed by Bahram Ark
A man disguises himself as a ram to cross the border.

HighLIght (Drama/23mins)
Directed by Shahrzad Dadgar
Over the course of a busy day, Hayedeh the hairstylist gets a surprise visit from her ex-husband who is now a woman.

Light Sight (Animation/8mins)
Directed by Seyed Moslem Tabatabaei. Produced by Simin Farrokh Ahmadi
M.E., the imprisoned character in a room is attracted to a hanging light and tries to catch it. But the room itself becomes an obstacle on his way.

Mwah (Dark Comedy/13mins)
Directed by Sara Soheili*
Five pregnant women sit in their doctor’s waiting room, their unborn babies carry on conversations about their life inside their mommy’s belly and even about their futures outside of the womb. But will they all have a future?

Shackled (Drama/6mins)
Directed by Leyla Nejad*
SHACKLED shows a Middle Eastern girl as she faces many obstacles throughout her childhood. She continues to accept everything that others tell her and after many challenges she leaves behind every one of her shackles; but freedom doesn’t come easy.

Strangers in a Book (Thriller/17mins)
Directed by Marc Rezvani. Featuring Vida Ghaffari*
In this edgy film, a hip and melancholic Iranian-American finds a misplaced book in a café. Intrigued by its contents, but unable to find the owner, she decides to interview the people in the notebook to decipher the identity of the mysterious man. The strangers whom she meets, considered the dregs of society, tell Sara stories about the enigmatic owner of the book, who is considered both diabolical and kind. In her relentless pursuit of the ultimate stranger, Sara is thus plunged into the horror of the unknown, where reality merges with art, and where existence itself is questioned.

That Night Raining (Thriller/4mins)
Directed by Mohammad Mahdi Bagheri
A moving portrait of a man woken up by somebody in the house.

*Post-Screening discussion with filmmakers in attendance.

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