Mark Amin – Jury Chair
Mark Amin is currently the CEO of Sobini Films, a motion picture production and financing company. Through Sobini Films, Amin has produced a diverse slate of feature films, including THE PRINCE & ME, PEACEFUL WARRIOR, and ELIZA GRAVES, starring Michael Caine, Ben Kingsley, Kate Beckinsale and Jim Sturgess, based on a short story by Edgar Allen Poe. Upcoming projects include A MOMENT TO REMEMBER with Ben Lewin (THE SESSIONS) directing and ZORRO: REBORN, a futuristic reboot of the lucrative Zorro franchise starring Gael García Bernal. Mr. Amin served as Vice Chairman and member of the board of directors of Lionsgate Entertainment from 2000 to 2009. Prior to his work with Lionsgate and Sobini, Amin founded Trimark Holdings, Inc. and served as the company’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Under Amin’s leadership, Trimark soon developed into one of the entertainment industry’s leading independent production and distribution companies. Amin’s past credits include the critically acclaimed EVE’S BAYOU and FRIDA, which was nominated for five Oscars and won two. In addition to film production, he is actively involved in the acquisition and development of pistachio and almond orchards in central California, with more than 8,000 acres under management. Mr. Amin holds a BA degree in Economics from the University of Kansas and an MBA from UCLA.
Mary began her acting career as a child star in Iran. One of her earliest successes was the television program “Octopus,” a long running show on the National Iranian Television where Mary performed as a teen star in political and satirical skits weekly. Going on to star in countless television shows, feature films and plays, Mary became one of the most popular stars in Iran before the 1979 revolution. She was the first actress in the Iranian Motion Picture history to win the Moscow International Film Festival Best Actress Award for her performance in “Dead End.” Mary has starred in critically acclaimed award winning films including, “The Mission,” “Checkpoint,” and “Price For Freedom.” She has also co-starred in television productions such as the NBC miniseries “On Wings of Eagles” and produced the MGM release, “Mind Games.” Among many awards she recently received the prestigious ARPA International Film Festival Foundation Award for her Humanitarian efforts using the theater to mirror the true voices and the stories of the women of the Middle East. She also worked with Academy Award Winners Robert Redford, Sydney Pollack and Edward James Olmos. She is currently producing and starring in the animated feature film “Nowruz.”
Born in Lahijan, Iran in 1939, Sayyad started his legendary career in television in 1960, after the formation of Iran’s National Television station, where Sayyad starred and produced shows along with such other notable performers as Apick Youssefian, Mary Apick and Parviz Kardan. He is perhaps best known for his iconic comedic character “Samad” who quickly became an Iranian cultural phenomenon. He also starred in and produced such notable television shows as “Octopus” and “Uncle Napoleon.” He has written, directed and starred dozens of award winning feature films as well as producing the international masterpiece “Still Life” by director Sohram Shahid-Saless. Before the Islamic Revolution, he was one of the leading figures of the IRANIAN popular cinema, and in 1974, he co-founded The New Film Group, a loose confederation of New Wave filmmakers, and used the money from his commercial successes to help finance the works of young and talented directors. Sayyad, now working in Los Angeles directing Persian-language stage plays and TV shows for the large Iranian immigrant community.
Award winning actress and star of screen, stage and television, Gohar Kehhiranish was Born in Shiraz, Iran and received a bachelor’s degree in theater arts form the Tehran University. She started her career in theater performing in numerous productions for the Tehran City Theater which then led hear to star in numerous television and film productions. She has performed in over 60 feature films and is perhaps best known for her performance in director Dariush Mehrjoy’s 1999 classic film LADY. She has worked with such other notable filmmakers as Tahmineh Milani, Khosro Masoumi and Ibrahim Hatamikia.
Adel Yaraghi is an award-winning filmmaker and photographer born in 1968. He holds a B.A. and MFA in film production from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He started his film career as an assistant editor in Concord-New Horizons, a Roger Corman company. He continues working as a filmmaker, scriptwriter, actor and photographer. His first feature film “Meeting Leila” (2012) starring Leila Hatami and his second feature film “Finals” (2016) starring Shahab Hosseini, were co-written by the late-great Abbas Kiarostami. Both films were screened at numerous international film festivals including Chicago, Sao Paolo and Tashkent international film festivals. “Meeting Leila” won best first film in Iran and best director in Tashkent Film Festival.