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"The New Great American Director"- Iranian American Ramin Bahrani

Written by Michelle Moghtader and Nahid Dashtaki, NIAC
Washington, DC - Hailed by Roger Ebert as "the new great American director" for his recently released movie Goodbye Solo, NIAC was thrilled to discover that Ramin Bahrani was in fact Iranian American. With internationally acclaimed and award winning movies such as Man Push Cart (2005),and Chop Shop (2007) Mr. Bahrani has delighted audiences with his visionary direction of independent films. Now with the release of Goodbye Solo, NIAC would like to take a closer look at the man who is providing such an impressive and refreshing view to the genre of independent film.

Ramin Bahrani's story begins with his parents' move from Iran to Winston-Salem, North Carolina in 1968. His father, a native of Shiraz, was essential in exposing Mr. Bahrani to the poems of Hafez. Breaking away from the traditional Iranian-American encouragement towards the fields of medicine, science, law or engineering, the Bahranis were supportive of their son's passion for the arts. After receiving his BA from Columbia University, he spent 2.5 years in Iran discovering the land of his origins. It was there that he filmed his student thesis, Strangers (2000), which has yet to receive a proper release. His experience in Iran and as an Iranian American has shaped his films which deal with the stories of immigrants working to realize the American dream.

Ramin Bahrani has remained true to the origins of independent film direction by successfully using natural talent from non-professional actors. The raw, natural style of non-professionals who portray his main characters, encourage bold and true reactions to the stories he lays out for the audience. This is what makes the films Mr. Bahrani creates, powerful and honest. Only once did he use professional actors, and only then to depict people that they actually might have become, giving the characters an eerie look into their own lives and creating again a true depiction of his story.

These days, he teaches a graduate film directing course at Colombia University. When NIAC asked for his advice to Iranian American youth contending for their place in the film industry, "Don't listen to people who tell you to 'quit while you're ahead,'" he said speaking from experience. "Go with your eyes wide open. Don't compromise and stay true to your own vision."

Goodbye Solo, filmed in his hometown of Winston-Salem, depicts an impromptu friendship between two men, a charming Senegalese taxi-driver and a mysterious older man. These men find themselves at opposite ends of the American dream, although greatly in need of camaraderie. Mr. Bahrani told NIAC that after viewing the film, he hopes people will ask themselves, "What does it mean to be a selfless friend?" and reflect on their own friendships, "How do you care about someone even if it's difficult?"

You can view Ramin Bahrani's newest release, Goodbye Solo, this weekend May 8 and 9 in Washington DC at the E Street Cinema. This is a special viewing as Mr. Ramin Bahrani will be available for a Q & A session following the 7:30 and 9:40 films showings.

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