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FILM: Review of House of Sand and Fog- An Iranian perspective

12/3/03 By Trita Parsi, NIAC

NIAC hands out free tickets to House of Sand and Fog - hollywood production about Iranian-American family

Washington DC, December 3, 2003 - DreamWorks new movie for the holiday season, House of Sand and Fog, based on Andre Dubus III bestselling novel with the same title, is poised to intrigue Iranian-Americans due to its Iranian-American lead characters, its complex portrayal of Iranian cultural traits, and it being one of the first Hollywood productions in which Middle Easterners are depicted as multifaceted individuals and not one-dimensional shooting targets.

 The movie astutely captures the dark side of the immigrant experience in America, an experience that may be all too familiar to many Iranian Americans. Massoud Amir Behrani (Ben Kingsley - Gandhi), a former Royalist colonel in the Iranian military, is living a life beyond his means, desperately trying to keep up the pretense of the wealth and power he once enjoyed in pre-revolutionary Iran in order to enhance his daughter's chances of making a good marriage.

Risking the remainder of his fortune to restore his family's dignity, he buys a small house at an auction in order to restore it and sell it for four times its original price. However, what was supposed to be an ingenious business transaction quickly develops into a trajectory to disaster.


NIAC has been asked by DreamWorks to hand out free tickets to pre-screenings of House of Sand and Fog in Washington DC , Baltimore, Arlington and Richmond.

We are also seeking free tickets for screenings in other cities.

Click here to reserve your FREE ticket to House of Sand and Fog!


The house has been auctioned because of a bureaucratic error, and Behrani's plans are jeopardized when Kathy Nicolo (Jennifer Connelly - A Beautiful Mind), the self-destructive and alcoholic owner of the house, begins to protest the sale.

What starts out as a legal scuffle soon spirals into a personal confrontation, starting a tug of war between two struggling, proud people, each buoyed by the genuine belief that they have justice on their side. To both of them, the house represents something more than just a place to live. To the former Iranian colonel, the beachfront home is the first step to restoring his family's pre-revolutionary lifestyle. To Nicolo, the house represents an illusionary safe-haven that helps her veil the failure that she has become.

Besides being a movie with an undeniably deep emotional touch and a prime Oscar contender, it is also one of Hollywood's first refined and sophisticated portrayals of Iranians and Iranian Americans. Although the trailer of the movie may give the impression that Colonel Berhani is the "bad guy" - an unreasonable and aggressive man untouched by human feelings - it belies the movie which leaves the audience with a deep feeling of sympathy and admiration for the proud and dignified Iranian-American.

Although a portrayal is just that - a subjective portrayal of reality and not reality itself - Dubus and Perelman's depiction of Iranian-Americans and Iranian culture may be incomplete, but it is not unrealistic. It is a blend of the positive and negative that constitutes all cultures, and it is a step in the right direction for Hollywood; away from its simplistic, Manichean perspective and towards a polished outlook with a focus on the essence of the individual and not the misleading emotions of the stereotype.


Actors: Shohreh Aghdashloo, Sir Ben Kingsley, Jennifer Connelly, Kim Dickens, Ron Eldard
Director: Vadim Perelman
Release Date: December 26th, 2003.

NIAC's mission is to promote Iranian-American participation in civic life. Iranians-Americans deserve to make informed decisions on matters that affect them, and NIAC aims to facilitate this by bringing transparency to these debates. Our intent is to report on policy conferences and pieces of legislation as objectively as possible. NIAC, itself, as an organization, has no position on these debates. Our function is to provide Iranian-Americans with the necessary knowledge and tools to be able to participate in decision-making according to their own views.

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