FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 23, 2012
Caty Borum Chattoo
San Francisco, Calif. -- Against a backdrop of rising cultural and political tensions in Iran, Link TV will premiere its four-part documentary TV series, "BRIDGE TO IRAN," beginning on February 14 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Presented by Iranian-American host, Parisa Soultani, the series examines issues such as the role of women in Iranian politics, intimate conversations between the exiled former queen of Iran and a former dissident, and the historically powerful role of the arts -- particularly theatre and cinema -- within Iranian society. In each episode, in-depth discussions with top Iranian filmmakers provide a unique lens into some of the challenges and realities facing Iranians during a time of increased instability -- including censorship, sanctions and safety concerns. New episodes will air at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT on February 14, 21, 28, and March 6 (with repeat broadcasts); more information about all episodes are available online at www.LinkTV.org/BridgeToIran. (Please request the password to screen the shows before premiere dates.)
"Bridge to Iran," a co-production of Link TV and CEM Productions, was developed as a response to the cultural and political tensions that have developed between Iran and the U.S. since the Iranian revolution.
"At the moment, the overwhelmingly dominant media conversation about Iran is focused exclusively on the nuclear issue -- but with no spotlight on the people of Iran. The "Bridge to Iran" series ventures somewhere new -- it brings American audiences into the lives, thoughts and concerns of everyday Iranians," said Paul S. Mason, Link TV president and CEO. "We at Link TV believe this is a critical time to provide a window into the lives of Iranians during such a heightened moment of conflict and change -- and this series provides that lens."
The new season of "Bridge to Iran" includes four documentary films and in-depth discussions with the filmmakers (full episode synopses are available at www.LinkTV.org/BridgeToIran):
The 2012 season of the series will be previewed at a public event held at New York University on February 9. The event, "Iran on Film: Culture, Politics and Daily Life," will feature a screening of show excerpts, as well as a panel discussion about the role of cinema in bridging the gap in the misunderstandings between U.S. and Iran. (See NYU's Media Relations site for more information about the event.)
Since 2007, "Bridge to Iran" has covered a wide range of social and political issues in modern Iran, including young girls facing womanhood and an uncertain future within an Islamic society, religious pilgrims who risk their lives to visit a holy site in war-torn Iraq, rural life and political awareness, an exploration of Tehran as an urban metropolis, and Iranian women's participation in the election process. The series provides an unfiltered lens into the country and its people through documentaries made by Iranian directors, living both inside Iran and within the Iranian Diaspora.
"'Bridge to Iran' is a unique, critically important television series that allows American audiences to come to know and understand the true richness of Iranian culture and society," said Stephen Olsson, the series' Emmy- and Peabody-Award-winning producer/director. "Having Iranian directors tell their own stories and then be interviewed in their native language opens new windows and new levels of understanding for Americans, which may in turn help reduce the possibility of armed conflict."
"Iran has a vibrant film and cultural community, and yet, at the same time, filmmakers and other Iranians are having a hard time with the political and economic realities of sanctions and other issues," said Persheng Vaziri, the Iranian-American filmmaker and co-producer of the series. "This series, quite literally, provides a bridge of understanding between U.S. audiences and Iran."
To learn more and watch excerpts from the 2012 season of "Bridge to Iran," visit www.LinkTV.org/BridgeToIran. Major funding for the series comes from the PARSA Community Foundation and the Neda Nobari Foundation.
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Link Media uses media and the power of stories to engage, inform and inspire its audiences to participate in transformational, sustainable change on issues of global importance. Founded in 1999, Link Media operates the Link TV national network and the websites LinkTV.org and ViewChange.org. An independent and non-commercial media company, Link Media acquires, produces and delivers global news, documentaries and cultural programming over three distribution channels: broadcast, Web and mobile devices.
A pioneer in news and current affairs programming, Link TV has been recognized for its original news programs including the Peabody Award-winning daily broadcast Mosaic: World News from the Middle East and the weekly LinkAsia news program hosted by Yul Kwon. Since 2007, Link TV has provided the only U.S. programming about life in Iran through its Bridge to Iran series and Iran-U.S. Relations project.
Link TV is available as basic service on DIRECTV channel 375 and DISH Network channel 9410, reaching more than 35 million U.S. households. Select Link TV programming also airs on 220 cable outlets, including in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, reaching an additional 22 million homes. For complete background information, program schedule and Internet streaming of many programs, go to LinkTV.org. Follow on Twitter @viewchange and @linktv, and on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/LinkTV and www.Facebook.com/ViewChange.
Cultural & Educational Media (CEM Productions) is a non-profit media organization that produces films, TV series, and web-based programming that promotes new insights and understandings of the human condition, especially with regards to cultural, religious and political differences.
"CEM" is a powerful concept in several other languages -- pronounced "GEM" in Turkish and "Jama" in Arabic and Farsi, meaning "to bring together" or "to unite." CEM has been using the power of film and storytelling to connect and unite people since 1983, fostering cross-cultural awareness, understanding and tolerance through an award-winning body of film, television and Internet-based media work. www.CEMProductions.org
BRIDGE TO IRAN
2012 SEASON SCHEDULE & DESCRIPTIONS
IRAN: A Cinematographic Revolution
Director: Nader Takmil Homayoun
Premiere: February 14 at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT and February 16 at 10:00 p.m. PT
Today, Iranian cinema is one of the most highly regarded national cinemas in the world, regularly winning festival awards and critical acclaim for films which combine remarkable artistry and social relevance. IRAN: A CINEMATOGRAPHIC REVOLUTION traces the development of this film industry, which has always been closely intertwined with the country's tumultuous political history, from the decades-long reign of Reza Shah Pahlevi and his son, the rise of Khomeini and the birth of the Islamic Republic, the seizure by militants of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, and the devastating war with Iraq.
IRAN: A CINEMATOGRAPHIC REVOLUTION chronicles how Iranian films reflected contemporaneous society and often presaged social change. It shows how mainstream commercial cinema served as a propaganda tool for both the monarchy and the fundamentalist religious regime, recounts the sporadic efforts of some filmmakers to reveal grimmer social realities, and the struggles against censorship and traditional cinematic formulas by such pioneers as Bahram Beyzai, Sohrab Shahid Saless and Parviz Kimiavi and pre- and post-Islamic revolutionary 'new wave' filmmakers such as Amir Naderi, Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, Dariush Mehrjui, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Jafar Panahi, Bahman Ghobadi and Abbas Kiarostami.
The Queen and I
Director: Nahid Sarvestani
Premiere: February 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT and February 23 at 10:00 p.m. PT
THE QUEEN AND I follows the Queen/Empress and the director, a former communist, as they share ideas and concerns about the country they were both forced to leave after the revolution. The film opens by showing the coronation of Farah Pahlavi and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and explaining the story of Nahid's childhood, growing up in a poor family where lunch was not a mundane privilege. She explains the downfall of the shah, the rising popularity of Khomeini, and the death of her brother, Rostam, along with how she escaped to Dubai from Iran, remaining as a fugitive for two years before flying to Sweden via-fake passport. After emailing the Empress, Nahid is invited to her home in Paris. The Empress's secretary, however, soon discovers Nahid's previous involvement in anti-Shah organizations, and the Empress does not feel comfortable giving an interview. Six months later, Nahid sends the Empress all of her thus-done footage, and when the Empress sees Nahid's works do not slander her name, she continues the documentary. Together, the two of them go to all different areas and cafes in Paris where the Empress is stopped by Persian people who recognize her, to Cairo, Egypt, where she was welcomed during her exile and where the Shah is buried, and to Washington. Nahid is also experienced to royalist parties, still proclaiming the Empress as the Queen and her son, Reza Pahlavi, as the present Shah. They also attend a gala for the Iranian Children's Foundation. By the end of the film, the Empress and Nahid have formed an unlikely friendship, that of an exiled Queen and a fellow Irani who fought to rid her of her throne.
We Are Half of Iran's Population
Director: Rakhshan Bani Etemad
Premiere: February 28 at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT and March 1 at 10:00 p.m. PT
Three months before Iran's presidential elections Iranian women's rights activists, consisting of a vast spectrum of different points of view from religious to secular and ordinary women, are filmed posing their questions to the ten candidates and three of them discuss their opinions after watching the film. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, however, is not willing to take part in the film or to respond. By the time the film is finished, three individuals who have taken part in the film are thrown in prison, falling victim to the massive post-election detentions. WE ARE HALF OF IRAN'S POPULATION sheds light on the reality of the situation of Iran.
Siah Bazi (The Joy Makers)
Director: Maryam Khakipour
Premiere: March 6 at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT and March 8 at 10:00 p.m. PT
Siah Bazi is an improvisational Iranian theater similar to commedia dell-arte in the West. Actors perform at weddings and parties as well as in theaters. But the theaters featuring this are closing down, and women can't perform at weddings. Director Maryam Khakipour documented the plight of Siah Bazi actors in her short SIAH BAZI, translated as THE JOY MAKERS. SIAH BAZI shows examples of the improvisational theatre work of that name, including the use of blackface for the most popular character, known as The Black. "The Black represents the people," says the actor who portrays him. "The audience identifies with The Black." The character says things that those in the audience want to say but cannot, and is able to mock authority. We see the audience enjoying themselves at a Siah Bazi performance, but they are having fewer opportunities to do so. Theaters are closing down, and the one this Siah Bazi troupe performed in, the oldest in Tehran, is closed without warning by the government.
The last part of SIAH BAZI becomes particularly poignant as the actors wonder what they'll do after spending their working lives in the theater. A 54-year-old actress says she has gotten a job serving tea. This disturbs a younger actress named Shadi, who is distraught that a great performer would be reduced to being a tea server.