From the Director
I have a very personal connection to the late Dr. Saeed Rabanzadeh, the central character in this film. He was my husband’s uncle and I have known him most of my adult life. The last time I saw Uncle Saeed, he was frail from cancer treatments but eager to share his stories. He told me how, as a high-ranking general in the Iranian Army in the 1990s during war with Iraq, he felt he had no choice but to become a whistle
blower when he witnessed the horrible mistreatment of Iraqi war captives. It was a decision that ended his military career. Then there was the defining incident that forced his resolve: For the future of his daughter, he would leave his homeland forever. At his gravesite, when I realized that Uncle Saeed's stories were still alive within our family, I knew that it was time for me to voice them. These stories about life in Iran and America echo my family's experiences as part of the larger narrative of Iranians who left their homeland for their children. They speak of the Iranian heritage of my American children and of the life of a new American.
As an Iranian-American filmmaker, artist and educator I have come to understand that this piece of modern history is relatively unknown outside Iran. I am sometimes shocked at how little is really known about us. Most Americans, inundated with reports of terrorists and evil regimes, have a very negative perception of Iran in the world. Few are aware that Iranian immigrants now make up over one and a half million US citizens. We are among the most highly educated people in the country and have historically excelled in business, academia, science, the arts, and entertainment. Most don’t know that before its revolution in 1979, Iran embraced diversity and fostered a thriving Jewish population. The majority have since left the country and in the US today the population of Iranian Jews is second only to that of Israel.
I hope to engender a new and deeper knowledge of Iranian Americans through this film. As a visual anthropologist, I am keen to illuminate the visual poetry and rich cultural heritage of my family, to share the universal experiences of love and hope and loss that bind all refugees and immigrants together, and to shed new light on historical events in Iran. Our cameras will capture dramatic stories and emotional memories as I myself often experience them, at family events, meals and parties, over a few drinks, playing ping pong, and watching the children. I want to bring viewers in close for an intimate experience of people they may otherwise have never known. Only then is there any real hope for understanding our connection to modern history in the Middle East and all of its human complexities.