JOHNSON CITY – The Mary B. Martin School of the Arts at East Tennessee State University will present the film "The Iran Job" Monday, Feb. 3, at 7 p.m. with filmmaker Till Schauder as part of the South Arts Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers. "The Iran Job" is the first of three independent films to be shown during spring semester.
After the screening of the film in ETSU's Martha Street Culp Auditorium, Schauder and the audience will engage in a discussion about "The Iran Job" and his work as a filmmaker. A reception will follow. All activities are free and open to the public.
"This kind of documentary turns your world upside down," says reviewer Bob Maier on davidsonnews.net. "It rebels against the autocrats and haters on all sides. It turns the very idea of ‘bomb Iran' into a reptilian nightmare of shame. It offers rays of hope that we can get along just fine with a little direct human-to-human communication, unfiltered by self-serving pundits, hypocritical scolds, and power-hungry officials."
In the fall of 2008, husband-and-wife filmmakers Till Schauder and Sara Nodjoumi had a Skype call with Kevin Sheppard, a flashy American point guard about to start a basketball contract in the Iranian Super League. Sheppard was so entertaining that they decided to start filming. Schauder filmed in Iran over several visits, until on his last trip he was informed that he had been placed on a "black list" and sent back to New York.
The result of those visits, "The Iran Job" follows Sheppard as he accepts a job to play in one of the world's most feared countries: Iran. With tensions running high between Iran and the West, the athlete tries to separate sports from politics, only to find that politics are impossible to escape in Iran. Along the way, Sheppard forms an unlikely alliance with some outspoken Iranian women. Thanks to these women, his apartment turns into an oasis of free speech, where they discuss everything from politics to religion to gender roles.
"He is obviously an exceptionally brave and curious person, and what he found was a culture bursting with love for America," Maier says, "and especially two precocious young women delighted to guide him through their proud, but sympathetic culture."
Sheppard's first season in Iran's Super League culminates in something much bigger than basketball: the uprising and subsequent suppression of Iran's reformist Green Movement – a powerful prelude to the currently unfolding Arab Spring.
"I think the film has wider appeal than at first meets the eye," says Mary B. Martin School of the Arts Director Anita DeAngelis. "If one is interested in basketball, of course, there's some significance, but if one is interested in politics, there are political situations Sheppard had to navigate. If one is interested in Women's Studies, he becomes friends with several Iranian women and he is able to speak very freely with them. There are sociological aspects to the film. There's so much to glean from this film."
Schauder is a graduate of the University of Television and Film in Munich. He teaches film classes at NYU and has been a guest lecturer at various other campuses. He has also been invited to serve on film festival juries and panels including the Munich International Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival. Nodjoumi is a film producer and programmer who has co-produced and directed a series of documentaries about the Iranian community in America. In 2009, Nodjoumi launched and programmed the first children's film series at Tribeca Cinemas.
For more information on the film, visit www.theiranjob.com.
The Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers is a program of South Arts. Southern Circuit screenings are funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.
South Arts, a nonprofit regional arts organization, was founded in 1975 to build on the South's unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts. South Arts' work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective. South Arts offers an annual portfolio of activities designed to address the role of the arts in impacting the issues important to this region and to link the South with the nation and the world through the arts. For more information, visit www.southarts.org.
For information about the ETSU Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, call (423) 439-TKTS (8587) or visit www.etsu.edu/martin. "Like" ETSU Mary B. Martin School of the Arts on Facebook and follow it on Twitter at TheArtsAtETSU.
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