Iran News ...


2/13/07

BAM 6.6, the movie: Interview with independent filmmaker Jahangir Golestan-Parast

By: Brian H. Appleton, Dec. 2006

BAM 6.6: A documentary film by Jahangir Golestan

In 2003, an earthquake measuring 6.6 magnitudes, struck the city of Bam, killing over 50,000 people, injuring over 20,000 residents, and leaving more than 60,000 citizens homeless. The earthquake destroyed much of the beautiful ancient city, known for its old quarter, and decimated its 2,000-year-old citadel.

Bam 6.6 follows the experiences of Adele Freedman, A Jewish-American woman who was vacationing in Bam with her fiancé, Tobb Dell'Oro, when the earthquake struck. Adele, who is forced to face Tobb's tragic death alone in the crumbling city, halfway around the world, finds surprising comfort when the Muslim citizens of Bam reach out to her. The film interweaves Adele's experiences with the experiences of Iranian survivors, who provide a painful reality of the earthquake's devastating toll on their community. Adele and her family quickly discover that falling bricks and collapsing walls do not distinguish between Jew, Christian, or Muslim, between American and Iranian.

Negative images have created a curtain between the U.S. and Iran-a curtain that prevents easy exchange of ideas and shared collaboration. Bam 6.6 lifts the curtain, allowing viewers to share in the universal language of grief, loss, and hope.

 

 



Jahangir Golestan Parast

 

Q: When were you born and where?

 

A: Born April 4, 1951 Esfahan, Iran

 

Q: Tell me about your family and your early childhood!

 

A: I was raised in a very loving environment, very physically affectionate with incredible love and friendship.  I have three sisters and five brothers. My father had two wives and two families, one in Tehran and one in Esfahan.  My stepmother had two boys and three girls.  I used to hate my stepbrothers but interestingly enough the moment my father died, we all became close friends, even the two wives. We have gotten to be so close over the years that we consider ourselves all one family.  It had been secret from us and when my mother originally found out she was really quite distraught. I learned of this from my stepmother after my mother died. My stepmother had also been distraught to find out about the existence of his other family. The first two years it was secret but by the time I was ten my dad took me to Tehran and we stayed at my stepmother's house overnight.  I was not completely comfortable with them at that time, but they were very hospitable. After my father passed away, they moved to Esfahan. We became very close after that.  I even remember begging my stepbrothers to forgive me for ever hating them. I am not ashamed of my father.

 

Q: You know, I think it is natural for a child to feel threatened by a potential rival for his father's affection and life support. Let's talk about polygamy for a minute: Do you really think it is possible for a man to love two women equally and treat them equally as is purportedly required by Islam? Also I wonder if societies in which polygamy existed in the past are places where few men could afford to get married and so when a man was rich enough to marry, he could afford to support more than one family. Perhaps polygamy is a bi-product of poverty. A woman saw marriage as a way of escaping poverty even if her husband had more than one wife.

 


Quake sticken children in Bam

 

A: Perhaps you are right.  I must tell you however that I do not believe in polygamy or cheating on one's spouse or Sigheh and I don't believe in divorce either.  I am an advocate of women's rights.

 

Q: You know now that I think of it, arranged marriages, dowry, sigheh, these practices are more common in regions of the world where historically there has been great poverty and less economic freedom and mobility. That also explains why divorce is the one thing we have more of here in the USA than arranged marriages, dowries or mistresses because more people can afford to divorce here.

 

A: As a salesman my philosophy is never to give up. A marriage is a lifetime commitment and it requires constant maintenance. I married an American woman and there were many cultural differences that had to be gulfed and we really had to talk and communicate quite well in order for our marriage to survive. We overcame our differences by open communication and we continue to be happily married. It really depends on how much you want to succeed in your marriage and there is no way that the children don't get hurt in a divorce.  As far as polygamy goes, I do not believe in it. I never really had a chance to talk to my father about his motivations.  I would like to say that my philosophy of life is that a person should always seek out the good and the positive rather than pursue or focus on the negative. The more one focuses on the good the more good will come to them and visa versa.

 

Q: I agree with that philosophy. A culture, an individual has the capacity for good and the capacity for evil and either can be cultivated. So much of what develops is a result of a mental attitude. It was Zarathustra who said that evil was the creation of man's mind not of God's. And it was Hafez who spoke about how a person can never out distance his own evil; by day his mind was pure and by night it was wicked and erotic; the evil is there like a shadow, sometimes the harder you try to deny it, the harder it strikes back like the sex scandals of the catholic priests. One thing is for certain and that is the complexity of human nature. Nothing is black and white. The ancient Greek heroes always had a tragic flaw, which made them human.  Even the legendary Hercules would get drunk on occasion and kill innocent people and then spend years of remorse and sacrifice trying to atone as in the story of  "The Labors of Hercules."  A contemporary psychologist whose name escapes me at the moment has said that we love people for their flaws.

 

A: True... well we all really admired my father. He was very well known in Esfahan and Iran because of his café. Famous people and generals, businessmen and workers would all come to this gathering place and listen to the Rubaiyat by the story teller who worked the café and smoke Gheyloon and drink tea and chai tork. Often when we would see a beggar in the street my father would encourage me to go over and take his hand and invite him to come through the front door of our café where he would give him a free meal and some money. He was a very generous man. All the workers and customers patronized the teahouse for 30 years and were very loyal to him. When he passed away, I was very upset and I did not want to stay in the house where he had died of heart attack any longer. Eventually we sold that house.

 

Q: Tell me about Esfahan in those days.

 

A: A French friend recently asked me now that I am 55 and have traveled the world, if I had to do it again where would I like to be born and with which citizenship and without any doubt or hesitation I said Esfahan.

 

"Esfahan is half the world." Esfahan, the mirror of the world, Nakhshe Jahan Park... I still feel like it's the most fascinating city in the world. The game of polo was invented in the Meydan-e-Imam.

 

It was so beautiful. The 33 arched bridge, we would picnic by every weekend, Si-o-se-Pol and Pol-e-Khaju...the history there is amazing. The beauty of Masjed Jomeh is incredible. When I went there for prayer as a child with my mom I sat on the woman's side with her and when I went with my dad, I sat on the men's side.            

 

 


Tobb and Adele

 

 

Q:  What are some of your early memories from childhood?

 

A: My early memories are going to the mosque with my mom. She was quite religious and also illiterate. She used to have to sign papers with her thumbprint. I sometimes didn't want to go to the mosque but I understand what she was trying to do. She was trying to instill in me, a sense of morality.

 

Another early memory was going to the bazaar. I didn't like the bazaar much because it was kind of dark and decrepit. However I especially liked going to my dad's cafe on Chahar Bagh Avenue. It was a very traditional teahouse. It was called "Ali Anjili Café" ( Ali's fig café). I even found a reference to it in the British Encyclopedia once when I was in London. It was noted there as being one of the oldest and most traditional tea houses in Iran. I hated the nickname "Ali's Fig Café" when I was a boy. Ali had owned it 30 years.

 

When my father died, my brother Mohammad, educated in computer programming at Thames Polytechnic London, changed the name to "1001 Nights Caravanserai." He spent two years renovating it...totally modernized it... by day it was a tea house and a night club by night and it was always packed with foreigners.

 

I was very close to Manoucher, my brother who was two years my elder. We would go camping every week during the summer. Esfahan was a very conservative town. At age 12, I had a bit of a crush on a catholic girl but it never went anywhere because there was just too much social pressure against dating. We children were happy and really didn't care about dating yet anyway. We went to movies all the time. That was our big entertainment as kids, outdoor movie theatres and there was Cinema Maiyak near my father's café. My father owned an inn called Mosafer Khune-ye-Golestan. My brother and I would jump from the roof of our hotel onto the roof of the theatre where we could watch for free, undetected by the owners and sometimes we brought our friends too. We liked Gul-ye-chespm, who was a one eyed giant the best or Hercules movies. 

 

Sometimes in the theatre when we were preschool kids who couldn't read yet, I was only 5; we would sit next to an older person who would read out loud the Persian subtitles to us of the foreign films.

 

My father had a beautiful rose garden at the hotel. He was very fond of gardening. He also built a Zur-khane and he himself used the medicine clubs and my older brother did to.  Our Golestan family had a good and solid reputation around town. My father was very well respected and so no body messed with us. People would often turn to us for help.

 

Mohammed was very strong physically and he did a lot to promote wrestling in Esfahan and he loved stage acting. He would do impersonations of Charlie Chaplin and Marlon Brando at garden parties. He did Yule Brenner impersonations and in fact Yule Brenner came to Esfahan for a movie shoot one time and my brother actually gave him a personal tour of all the sites including the Shah Abbas Hotel, etc.

 

Q:  It's funny how the Iranians loved American actors in those days. I knew a Persian actor by the name of Manucher Naderi, who used to do John Wayne impersonations when I lived there in the 1970's. Can you imagine?

 

A: Oh, how funny. I would have loved to have seen that!

 

Q: When did you decide you wanted to be a filmmaker?

 

A: I wanted to be a moviemaker from the time I was 15. There was a movie called  "Dar Khamale-khoobsardi: (Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood") which made a big impression on me. The antagonist was very cool and unemotional. Even when they were going to hang him he was chewing gum indifferently. This made a big impression on me compared to the unbridled emotional expression exhibited by my culture. The fact that this condemned man chose to enjoy his last moments of life chewing gum rather than despairing gave me a life lesson, that only the moment is real as it could always be your last and this inspired my career path. It was at that time that I decided I wanted to become a filmmaker and I went to live in London with my brother Mohammad who had been there 5 years already. I needed A levels and O levels to get into film school there but I was not able to get them and so I never ended up studying film. I ended up working in a restaurant after my brother returned to Iran. I went from bus boy to manager and actually ended up making a career out of food and beverage services for the next several decades.

 

Q: What happened next?

 

A: I moved to Paris with my French fiancé "Rose."  I went to a hotel school and studied culinary arts.  I lived my life between Iran and France for the next ten years but after the revolution I stayed in France. Eventually I went to the USA. I took several courses on filmmaking at UCLA. I made my first film, which was a travelogue about Esfahan in 1997. It was very well received in the Iranian market as one of the most unbiased and non-political films since the revolution. It is a very detailed film and very educational. It took me 8 months to make this film.

 

 


Adele, Tobb, and university students in Kashan

 

 

Q: What was your motivation for making this film?

 

A: Whenever I would go home to Esfahan, I would take a camcorder with me and film things to show my friends and family back in the USA. They were so enthusiastic about these clips and so interested in the aspects of Persian culture, which I captured on film, which they were totally unaware of, that they encouraged me to make a travelogue.

 

Seeing as how I had always wanted to be a filmmaker, I decided to do it. I haven't any source of funding other than my own savings to make films with, however it is my passion for the subject matter that drives me to do it. In the forefront of my mind is peace; I am committed to improving the understanding of Persian culture in the West and improving relations between our cultures.

 

Q: I share that goal with you, which I strive for with my writing.

 

A:  A few years later, I made another travelogue: "Iran, A Video Journey." That was three years ago. It was about Tehran and about Abianeh, a village near Kashan. It is very traditional and people still wear dress from two or three hundred years ago there.  The film also had more about Esfahan.  I had to revisit Esfahan in this film because it remains the most fascinating city in Iran to me.  This film never really got marketed properly here and has sat on the shelf.

 

I came to a point in my career where I had to decide between spending my limited resources on a four-year filmmaking degree from UCLA or putting the money towards my next film about Bam. I decided that although the schooling could give me techniques, it could not replace the passion that I had which drove me to make the film "Bam 6.6"

 

Although the devastating tragedy of the earthquake seemed like a grim subject to make a film about, it really served as a door opening for the American public to see into Persian culture, which has been so much maligned in the past several decades since the revolution by politicians and the propaganda media machines on both sides. I cannot begin to express how much love I feel for Tobb Dell' Oro and his family for their passion and love for Iran. If he were alive today, I would kiss his feet.

 

His family and also Adele Freedman and her family really did not have to submit to interviews and this filming, which could have been potentially very painful for them to revisit this experience in their lives due to the losses that they personally had sustained from the earthquake. But they agreed to share their experiences of Iran because they shared my mission of peace.

 

Tobb and Adele went to Iran and to Bam on a mission of love and discovery and in fact Tobb proposed marriage to Adele in Bam but instead they met death and destruction, however just as a child is born from its mother's pain so was something born from all the misery and devastation and that something was the opportunity which was created by the stage set by the earthquake for humanity to show the very best qualities that it has to offer. There were many people who pleased God in the aftermath of this disaster with their acts of kindness and generosity and self-sacrifice, which transcended all ethnic, religious and political barriers.

 

I was determined to portray the best of Persian culture comprehensively. It seems that every filmmaker, up until this film, has focused on one particular aspect or point of their interest without looking at the big picture as a whole. Some filmmakers have focused on women's issues or the plight of a particular ethnic group, but everyone in this film helped to create it and portray the true Iranian culture, the essence of its generosity, hospitality, caring and passion for their fellow human beings. This can be seen in the caring of the tour guide Farzaneh Khatami, who never left Adele's side during the entire ordeal.

 

The other side of this coin is that there were so many Americans who also believed in my goal starting with the Dell' Oro's and the Freedman and including Bill Woolery, who edited this film.

 

I have to tell you that getting a film to market is a tough business. Two editors ripped me off and I ended up in a court battle. I had no more money after that and Bill Woolery, out of the blue came along and offered to make a trailer pro bono if he liked it and after that when I got some funding again, he would edit it. He loved the film and he also loved the message and decided to take it on.

 

Q: I know that one of the things, which impressed me when I saw the screening of your film at the Persian Student Association of UCLA was the resiliency of the children of Bam, many of whom were orphaned by the earthquake. I think that children are the wellspring of hope for humanity with their resilience in the face of disaster.

 

 


Adele and Farzaneh

 

 

A: After the screening at UCLA, my nephew, Mehdi Golestan-Parast, who is a commercial real estate agent, suggested that I donate 10 to 15% to the orphans of Bam of whatever profits I realize from this film and God would reward me. In fact I intend to do this.

 

Another person, Jila Kashef, who appears in my film, gave me most of my footage of the children of Bam. I am very grateful for her dedication to my movie and to the children of Bam. Ms. Kashef has helped children all over the world but the tragedy of Bam particularly caught her focus. She did an incredible amount of work to help the children of Bam. She raised funds for them internationally. She took leave from her employment at Sony Pictures Entertainment in L.A. to spend more time working with the children.  I heard about her through the OCPC  (Orange County Persian Community) magazine. NIPOC (Network of Iranian /American Professionals of Orange County) also told me about her and her efforts for the orphans of Bam.


Jila Kashef

 

Q: It sounds like she deserves an interview all of her own. Let's go back and talk about making the film.  I know that you wanted to tell the story from the point of view of Tobb and Adele so that Americans would see how loving and caring Iranians are. How did you go about contacting the Dell' Oro's and the Freedmans and talk them into participating in this film?

 

A:  A Persian student brought me an article from the paper about this American couple that had been caught in the Bam earthquake.  I researched about them and after three months I contacted Tobb's sister Tam.  She was very receptive to me when I told her about my desire to make a film about their experience and she thought that her family and Adele and her family would want to participate in it; however Adele was in Long Island. Both the Dell' Oros and the Freedmans, it turned out were very interested in getting the word out to the American public and the Western world about what loving, kind and humanitarian people the Iranians really are based on the treatment they had given to them and most especially Tobb and Adele in Iran during the traumatic episode and the aftermath of the Bam earthquake.

 

Adele agreed to the interview and the first session was in May of 2004.  I came by myself to her parents' house in the Hamptons. I thought about bringing my cameraman but I did not want to overwhelm her, so I filmed the interview myself. I cried throughout the entire interview because it was such a moving story.

 

Three years later I realized I needed more footage and I was worried that perhaps Adele would not agree to further interview. Things had changed and I wondered how they still felt about Iran. For one thing the moderate government of Khatemi had been replaced by the hardliners. Also I just didn't know if Adele and the Freedmans wanted to be subjected to more publicity. My fears were unfounded as she agreed readily.

 

Later when I had finished the film I went back to NY to show it to her but she did not want to see it.  Adele's parents watched the finished film with me. We were all crying. When it ended, Adele's mother said: "Excellent, excellent, it is not just about Adele and Tobb's love story, it is about the children, it is about Iranian culture...you need to see it Adele...having seen this film, now I understand why Tobb wanted to go to Iran. People need to see this!"

 

I felt so relieved that they had approved of the film. I asked Annamae (Adele's mother) if there was any special message she wanted communicated about the film and she said that Farzaneh (the tour guide) should be seen as the symbol of the Iranian people and politics needs to be put aside. The message is that people are people no matter where they are in the world.

 

 


Jila Kashef with Children in Bam

 

 

Q: Is there anyone else that you would like to honor in the context of this interview?

 

A: I would like to give special thanks to Bill Woolery, the editor who was a huge help in the nuts and bolts of making this film and for his faith in it.

 

I would also like to recognize my wife, Brenda who gave me lots of motivation to make this film and I also wish to thank my daughter who appears in the dream sequence portraying the recurring nightmare that Mrs. Freedman kept having prior to Adele's departure on her trip to Iran, like a premonition of ill foreboding before the earthquake.  I shot this segment with my daughter in the desert in Palm Springs.

 

I became totally committed to making and promoting this film because I believe that its message of peace is of great urgency. I believe that if you ask for anything in this world with enough commitment, courage, desire and persistence, you will get it. I truly believe that's why this movie is where it is now.

 

Q: I also believe in this philosophy. I think part of the reason that you and I hit it off so well is that we are both in sales. You cannot make a living in sales if you do not believe in the possibility of success. Sometimes when I find my optimism flagging, I remind myself of sales I have made in the past as large as $1.85 million and it gives me the courage to move forward again. The biggest enemy and obstacle that a person can have in life is the self-doubt generated in their own mind. If you identify your goal with a cause much greater than yourself, you will be so passionately engrossed in pursuing it that you will not see yourself long enough to harbor doubt. Love and truth are the most powerful weapons on earth mightier than the greatest army or the biggest bomb. In the end love conquers all and the truth wins out.

 

I had read that the Dell' Oro and Freedman families are raising funds to build a school for children in Bam with an emphasis on improving understanding between Iran and the USA. Can you tell us about that?

 

A: You and your readers can go to www.tobbdelloro.org to learn more about their "Friendship Fund, " and how you can participate in its events and make donations for its cause of peace in the Middle East and especially between the USA and Iran.

 

Another point I want to make is about the effect that the making of this film had on me personally. I spent three years making this film and during the process I underwent a transformation. It reconfirmed my philosophical beliefs and at the epicenter of them is humanity, humanity, humanity. I became a lot closer to people.

 

I think many Iranians and other Middle Easterners anglicize their names and hide their ethnicity for a variety of reasons including avoidance of persecution, or fear of persecution, shame of the perceived "backwardness" of their culture and so forth.  I have always been proud of my culture.  However, after making this film, I felt even prouder than ever of the Iranian people and of being Iranian and I want every Iranian and especially expatriates to feel proud of the good things in Iranian culture. This is the main purpose of my film "Bam 6.6" This film celebrates that which is the best in the Iranian culture and character.

 

As I said before, every culture has it good aspects and its not so good aspects. There are traditions worth preserving and those that need change. Individuals are the same way.  I do not perceive myself as perfect at all. I know my own shortcomings. I want to say that a great deal of my growth and my positive self-image is something that I have my wife to thank for. She really saw the good in me and helped me to bring it out. I really owe her a lot.

 

Q: You know when you speak of people attempting to mask their ethnic origin; I have an understanding of that phenomenon, as my own father back in the 1940's anglicized his name to escape persecution as a Jew. In fact he hid our Jewish heritage from me until I was 15 years old and it was ironic because unwittingly I had even participated in anti-Semitic jokes and attitudes up until then. It took me years of my own effort to learn about Jewish culture and to take pride in it.

 

On a different topic, one thing I have been wondering about besides the loss of approximately 50,000 lives in the earthquake and the fate of the orphaned and homeless there and the effectiveness of the relief effort, is also about the destruction of the 2000-year-old citadel itself. Is there any effort underway to restore it or is the magnitude of reconstruction cost beyond what any institution or government is willing to pay?

 

A:  The Iranian government has signed a seven-year contract with an Italian engineering firm, which is going to undertake the restoration of the citadel. So we are all hopeful that it will be restored to its former beauty. The citadel at Bam was one of the world heritage sites of UNESCO.

 

I recently did an interview for Voice of America. The interviewer, Mr. Farhoudi, whom I developed quite a respect for, asked me why I had not focused more on the citadel itself or whether I intended to make a movie about the citadel alone; its history, construction, etc. Others have asked me why I didn't focus on the children and the victims of the Bam earthquake. In fact Mr. Farhoudi said that everyone already knows that Iranians are very warm and generous people. And I said no they don't!!!

 

The media portrays Iranians and Middle Easterners as terrorist demons who are out to destroy the Western world and way of life. After the experience which Adele Freedman and her parents had in Iran in which doctors and nurses and ordinary people from every walk of life offered them their humanity, their kindness, their generosity free of political motivation, Adele's mother agreed with my mission and my position that the Western world needs a better understanding of who the Iranian people really are. I also have a lot of respect for Tobb's parents Jeanne and Walter and his sister Tam, who share my goal of peace between our two peoples. Tobb's family was very supportive of this film and believed very strongly in the need for the American people to become aware that not all Iranians hate Americans. They said that had that been the case, why would they have taken Tobb and Adele into medical care ahead of all the Iranian victims and given them the highest level of care and refused any compensation.       

 

In fact when Adele went for a follow up visit with her doctors in New York, they commented that they could not have done a better job than the Iranian doctors had done.

 

Tobb's sister Tam told me that when the Iranian surgeon took a look at Adele's crushed foot he had to decide between amputation or reconstructive surgery which was the difference between a half hour versus five hours of surgery. Even though there were literally thousands of people in need of medical attention, he elected to undertake the five hour surgery because it was the right thing to do for her.

 

Q: One thing I found very interesting in the film was the information about water only being available along fault lines in the desert, which caused people over the centuries to build cities and trade routes along fault lines. I first ran across this fact that water in deserts is found along seismic faults in the Palm Springs "Living Desert" zoological garden where a guide pointed out to me that the palm trees grew along the fault lines all in straight rows because that's where the water is. Your film also pointed out that desert people use adobe construction despite its susceptibility to earthquake damage because often that is the only material available to them.

 

About making the film in Iran, how soon after the earthquake did you get there or was this all filmed way after? Did you go there right after? How long did it take to make?

 

A: Two weeks after the earthquake we sent a crew to go and videotape. Some of the photos and footage were given to us by Peter Cook from the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service in the UK. By a very unusual coincidence, his group came over to do rescue work and in the process of recovering the remains of the deceased they ran across the remains of one of their colleagues, Gavin Saxon. No one knew that he had been killed in the Bam earthquake or even that he was there at the time. He was on vacation touring Iran by himself by bicycle. He was on his way into Pakistan as he was actually doing a world bicycle tour so he ended up staying in the same guest house: "Musafer-Khaneh Akbar" where Tobb and Adele were staying because of its proximity to the border.

 

The team from Hampshire found his personal effects in the guesthouse but could not find his body because the bodies had already been removed to the morgue. Eventually they found and identified his body, which was arduous given how many dead there were and in very poor condition making identification difficult. They then contacted his family in UK and asked how they wanted to dispose of the remains. It turns out that Saxon had such a love for Iran that his family chose to have him buried there.

 

We ended up filming in Iran on three different trips and it took us three years to complete the work.  Two and a half years ago we contacted Farzaneh in Tehran. She in turn referred us to Jerry Dekker, a professor at New College in San Francisco, who speaks Farsi and lived in Iran for many years and visits there frequently and even takes his students on tours there. He is a big promoter of Iranian culture and he gave us a lot of information for the film for which we are very grateful.

 

I called Farzaneh and I told her that I needed to interview her but I couldn't come right now myself.  She agreed to do the interview with Jerry Dekker and his student camera crew. But when they met up in Esfahan, she changed her mind and said that the only way to really do this story was if I came over myself. I agreed and went over a year and a half ago.

 

 


Jahangir with the Freedmans

 

 

Q: Well I think we have come to the end of the interview. During the process of the past two months we have been collaborating on this, I feel as if I have become your long lost brother re-found and I will follow your career with interest from here on. What is your next film?

 

A: I am planning to make a film about my own experience in coming to America and the experience of other expat Iranians in the USA. I also want to state in closing that it is my profoundest wish that Iranians find unity amongst themselves and that all the wounds between the factions and different political and ethnic groups should heal and that as a united effort we work to preserve our heritage and our culture. Life should never be taken for granted because it is a precious thing. Remove the anger from your hearts and make room for love there. Do not wait until someone is dead to bring them a flower or appreciate them, the time to do that is while they are alive. We can learn from each other.  Especially in California, which is riddled with seismic faults, we must live each day as if it could be our last and we must really appreciate life itself. This is what Bam taught me.

 

In closing, this film is not my story, it is the story of all the individuals in the film, the story of Adele and Tobb, the story of Farzaneh, the story of Jila Khashef, the story of  Gavin Saxon and so on and also all the people who helped technically to make this film a reality like Bill Woolery. Without all of them it would not have happened. The message I want to make is that there is good in everyone and in every culture and all you have to do is look for it, keep your eyes and your heart open to it. I also want to say that Brian H. Appleton aka Rasool Aryadust gave his time generously without compensation, to do this interview in order to help promote the message of our film and I am deeply touched by that.

 

Not only has Iran been demonized in the West but so has Islam in general because of the activities of a few terrorists claiming to act in the name of Islam or the extreme practices of a few fanatic sects like the Wahabi. I would just like to say that Islam has more followers than any other religion on earth at the moment and the word Islam itself means peace and I am not ashamed to be a Moslem. I think that if we look for the common values that most religions share like helping the poor, doing good works that benefit humanity, practicing the Golden Rule of doing unto others as you would be done by that you will find that religions have much in common and could be a source of unity and peace rather than divisiveness. Different religions are like many ladders leading to the same roof. 

 

Regarding Iran, I think that in the West there has been an over-emphasis on the contributions, which the ancient Greeks have made to Western civilization, not to diminish the Greeks in anyway, but it is only within recent years that scholars of advanced Persian studies are becoming aware of how much the Achmeneid Persians contributed to Hellenistic culture instead of the other way around and how much Persian culture has contributed to Western civilization in general particularly during the middle ages in terms of science, mathematics, medicine, architecture, Sufism, philosophy, poetry and literature.

 

Q: In that vein I would like to mention that the British Museum had an exhibit last year called: "The Forgotten Empire" to that effect and that also the Soudavar family has a Foundation which each year selects a student of any nationality who is pursuing advanced Persian studies and awards them a scholarship with the very purpose in mind of helping to put Iran's contribution to World culture and civilization into the proper perspective. Also of note is the work that Dr. Abbas Edalat of the Royal College in London, is doing towards peace with both his CASMII (campaign against sanctions and military invasion of Iran) organization and his NGO dedicated to bringing internet access to children of the "third world."

 

A: That's great! Lastly I want to emphasize that my own personal goal is to serve humanity in whatever way and format that I can. I believe that love is the greatest of all human qualities and I would like to reiterate that not only is it my goal to promote peace between the US and Iran but also to help generate healing between Iranians themselves and the many splintered factions within our society. Finally I would like to encourage your readers to visit my website at: www.essenceofiran.com and to feel free to e-mail me their comments at golestanparast@sbcglobal.net

 

Since education is one of the primary goals of this film I would also be happy to make it available to educational institutions as well.

 

Also See The Photo Album


Contact the interviewer Brian H. Appleton

 

 

... Payvand News - 03/25/16 ... --



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