The filmmaker has assembled a talented team of media experts from the
world of independent documentary filmmaking.
In addition, we are collaborating with academic advisers who have agreed to be
available to us in developing a well-rounded research framework.
Our advisers are: Professors Jaleh Pirnazar (UC Berkeley),
Nahid Pirnazar (UCLA), Lior Sternfeld (Penn State), Jennifer Cool (USC),
Mario Ontiveros (CSUN), Alexis Krasilovsky (CSUN)
With backgrounds in visual and cultural anthropology, media literacy,
Judeo Iranian history, modern Iranian history and art history we collaborate to
build a solid narrative that is engaging, informative and entertaining.
DIRECTOR | PRODUCER
Shirin Raban is a Los Angeles based ethnographic documentary filmmaker who teaches Communication Design at UCLA Extension and California State University Northridge. Shirin grew up in Tehran and moved to Los Angeles with her family seven years after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
After a fruitful career in packaging design and branding, she received her Masters in Visual Anthropology from the University of Southern California in 2014 under the mentorship of Andrei Simic, a leading authority in the anthropology of immigrant communities. Her Master's Thesis Film, The Fifth Question: Why is this Passover different? on the shifting cultural identity of first generation Iranian Jews won the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Award and was selected as Semi-Finalist at the San Francisco Iranian Film Festival. The film was screened at the USC Cinema School, USC Casden Institute and UCLA Near Eastern Studies. Her film, Between the Shells, about the life and art of Jalil Harooni, an Iranian-American-Jewish master shell artist who grew up during WWII, lived through the Islamic Revolution in Iran and migrated to the United States after the Iran Iraq war, began broadcasting on Jewish Life Television May 2020. The film was recognized as Official Selection at the Lift Off, Film Girl, YoFifFest and CineTornado Film Festivals with an Honorable Mention from New Directors Film Festival.
Mary Skinner is best known for her feature documentary Irena Sendler In the Name of Their Mothers, about a group of Polish Catholic women who risked their lives during WWII to save thousands of Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto. Skinner captured the film’s 95-year-old Polish heroine, Irena Sendler, in the last long interviews she gave before she died. The film was selected for National PBS Broadcast beginning in 2011. It won several awards including the Gracie Award for Best Public TV Documentary and the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the UK Jewish Film Festival.
Skinner is a graduate of UC Berkeley in theatre and also studied Historical Documentary filmmaking at the New School in New York. She was a finalist in the 2005 European Documentary Network’s three-part History Doc Forum in Athens Greece. Following the completion of her first film, Skinner spent several years as a producer at the Midpen Media Center in Palo Alto and at Cinequest in San Jose. At MidPen, Skinner directed and produced Cuba Cubano Canibano, a short film about Cuban photographer Raul Canibano, whose haunting and surreal images are rarely seen outside Cuba. She also produced a regular TV program about Central Europe. For Cinequest, Skinner produced and directed a short film about Microsoft Education Award winner Teach Aids. Prior to embarking on her career in filmmaking, Skinner spent over two decades as a corporate marketing executive where she developed and produced integrated media campaigns for such firms as Wells Fargo, Charles Schwab and Intuit.
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Yumeng (Shirley) He is the Director of Photography for Beyond the Call. Shirley is a Los Angeles based visual ethnographer and documentary director, producer, cinematographer, and editor. She grew up in Beijing, China, and received her Masters in Visual Anthropology from the University of Southern California. Her background as an anthropologist gives her a unique understanding of how one’s story and its cultural and social ambiance are closely intertwined. Shirley’s mission is to share deeply personal and resonating stories that recognize the uniqueness of our cultural experiences. Her works explore the ample forms of storytelling — poetry, oral history, animation and self-reflexive essay film, blurring the line between fiction and documentary.
Shirley's short documentary Kite explores the intersection between mental health, feminine embodiment, and the Chinese diaspora. Kite was screened in festivals including the Asian Film Festival Los Angeles and Spotlight Documentary Film Awards. Her most recent documentary Échale Ganas: The Villa's Tacos Story is a coalescence of her exploration of the documentary form and her long-standing interest in telling stories about food, memory, diaspora, and underrepresented experiences. Échale Ganas will be premiering at the 2022 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.
Mina Rad is an Iranian-French producer and documentary filmmaker, interested in archive restitution and the transmission of knowledge and ethnographic filmmaking. She has directed more than 10 documentary films. Rad is the founder of the World Cultural Diversity Production, working on cultural heritage. She holds a degree in Communication and History from the University of Paris. She is the founder and president of APRÈS VARAN, an alumni association of Ateliers Varan created in 2013. Rad is the founder of the International Colloquium on the Influence of Pierre Perrault, a Canadian documentary filmmaker from Quebec. Rad also coordinates the Women's Day Women's Film Festival. A Frenchwoman of Iranian origin, she’s lived and worked in Europe and in the USA, Central America and Asia. Her first film, For Me the Sun Never Sets, won the Best Documentary Film Award at the 2012 Verity Festival in Iran. With Renato Athias, Rad co-wrote the documentary, Sprits, Forest and Rivers: Memories of worlds from the Hupd’äh of the Amazon in 2021. It premiered at the opening of the III edition of the Festival Ethnographic of Para in Belem in Brazil. Rad has relationships with media colleagues in Iran who have access to archival footage not readily available in mainstream Western academic libraries or archives.
SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER
Chandler Lovelle is a Los Angeles based social media manager and SAG actor. She manages the Instagram accounts for Wolf x Rose and rising country star Christopher J. Essex. For her clients, Chandler runs the entirety of their accounts—posting, editing, any and all correspondence, creating graphics, running ads, creating content, handling influencer outreach, managing the online shops, and anything else they might need. In addition, she has organically grown her own Instagram account for the past few years and amassed 176K followers with high engagement. Chandler advises Shirin Raban on her social media endeavors for her documentaries Beyond the Call and Between the Shells, in order to create press and help with fundraising efforts.
Pirayeh Pourafar is known for her composition of traditional Persian music, performance of tar (an instrument in the lute family, and creative east-west fusion. She learned Traditional Persian Radif as a student of Grand Master Ali Akbar Shahnazi at the Royal National Music Conservatory of Tehran. She has directed Nava and Lian, two successful Persian music ensembles. She was awarded the Durfee Arc and Master Musician Fellowship among others. Pourafar lectures, demonstrates and conducts workshops throughout the United States, Europe, and the Middle East. Pirayeh composed music for a documentary called, Four Wives - One Man, and for the short film, The River’s Quest, which was featured at the 2003 CalArts View Screening Series Festival.