2019 Jury

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.

Saber Abar

Saber Abar is an award-winning Iranian actor, writer, and director who began his career on Iranian television as a TV host of some of the top rated shows in Iran. In 2006, he starred alongside Ezzatollah Entezami in MINAYE SHAHR-E KHAMUSH, in a role that earned him his first Crystal Simorgh nomination for acting. Later he starred in Asghar Farhadi’s ABOUT ELLY, alongside Golshifteh Farahani. The film received critical world acclaimed and earned Mr. Aber another nomination at the Fajr International Film Festival. Other notable films include HICH, NOKHODI, THIRTEEN 59, and ENTEHAYE KHIYABAN HASHTOM. In addition to the film, Mr. Abar has also starred in numerous stage productions and in 2010 he directed VAV-HA VA VIRGUL-HA. He most recently starred in Bahman Farmanara’s TALE OF THE SEA, Ramtin Lavafipour’s HATTRICK, and Amir Homayoun Ghanizadeh’s MASKHARE BAZ. In 2019 Mr. Abar published a magnificent new book that began as an anthropological project on food and cooking traditions in all regions of Iran. He interviewed grandmothers in the most rural villages of the country. The book titled TO SEVEN HOUSES AWAY captures 100 heartwarming stories and recipes of a generation of women who are now immortalized forever in this great masterpiece.

Richard Horowitz

Richard Horowitz is a Golden Globe winning composer and world renowned musician best known for creating a unique sonic language by fusing together his roots in classical, jazz and electronic music with the intensity of the trance music he first experienced in Morocco at the age of nineteen. He plays keyboards, percussion and various woodwinds, including the ney, an obliquely blown reed flute. Mr. Horowitz’s credits include the Golden Globe award and Los Angeles Film Critics awards for THE SHELTERING SKY, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. He performed the film music live on François Mitterrand’s television special ETOILE PALACE in Paris, Oliver Stone’s ANY GIVEN SUNDAY(BMI Award), THREE SEASONS directed by Tony Bui and produced by Harvey Keitel (Sundance Jury and Audience awards), TOBRUK (Czech Lion Music Awards), LAKOTA WOMAN directed by Frank Pierson and produced by Jane Fonda, INTERSECTIONS directed by David Marconi and produced by Luc Besson, RETURN TO RAJAPUR starring Justin Theroux, Lynn Collins and Frank Langalla, ZERO and CASANEGRA (Moroccan submission to the Oscars in 2011) directed by Nour-eddine Lakmari, DEATH FOR SALES (Moroccan Submission to the Oscars in 2012) directed by Faouzi Bensaidi, L’ATANTIDE directed by Bob Swaim, starring Jean Rocheford, Tcheky Karyo, Anna Galiena, LES AMANT DE MOGADOR directed by Souheil Ben Baraka, starring Max von Sydow, Claude Rich, Marie-Christine Barrault and Fernando Rey. His compositions are translations that morph ancient sources into the full spectrum resonance of surround sound. MAJOUN, his collaboration with Sussan Deyhim was released by Sony Classical, is a good example of his musical style.

Naghmeh Samini

Naghmeh Samini (PhD), playwright, writer and lecturer in Dramatic Arts, was born in Iran and received her BA in Drama and MA in Cinema from the University of Tehran. She received her PhD in Art Studies at the University of Tarbiat Modarres in Tehran with a thesis focused on Drama and Mythology. More than twenty of her plays have been staged in Iran, France, India, Canada, the United States and other countries around the world. These include SLEEPING IN AN EMPTY CUP, SKY HORSES RAIN ASHES, MAKING FACES, and THE HOME. Her screenplays, including MAIN LINE directed by Rakhshan Banietemad, 3 WOMEN by Manijeh Hekmat and SWEET TASTE OF IMAGINATION by Kamal Tabrizi. In addition to the screen, Dr. Samini was also the writer behind the megahit television series SHAHRZAD, which has became a worldwide sensation. In 2007 critics selected her as one of the five top playwrights of Iran. One of her recent plays titled THE KING AND THE MATHEMATICIAN: A LEGEND was selected by UNESCO as one of the cultural achievements of the year. Dr. Samini has been Assistant Professor/Lecturer in Dramatic Literature at the Faculty of Music and Performing Arts, University of Tehran, since 2005. She was also affiliated with the School of Drama at the University of Washington between 2012 and 2017. She has run several creative writing and dramatic workshops around the world and has published several books including THE BOOK OF LOVE AND MAGIC and THE THEATRE OF MYTHS. She has published numerous articles and delivered lectures on cinema, theater and cultural studies, including her most recent lecture delivered at Stanford University titled Feminine body and Feminine Mind in Iranian Cinema. Dr. Samini has won several scholarships and bursaries for her creative writing and research projects from Japan Foundation, Aschberg, UNESCO and other cultural organizations.

Noureddin Zarrinkelk

Dr. Noureddin Zarrinkelk is widely known as the father of Iranian animation, in addition to his animation work he is also an accomplished conceptual artist, editor, graphic designer, illustrator, layout artist, photographer, scriptwriter and sculptor. He studied animation at the Belgium Royal Academy of Fine Arts from 1969 till 1972. Dr. Zarrinkelk founded the first school of Animation in Iran, which later merged with the prestigious faculty of fine arts of Tehran University. He continued being a professor of animation and graphic arts well into his retirement age. Since 1971, he has been a Jury member for various international animation festivals and illustration biennials, and was elected as the president of ASIFA (Association International du Film d’Animation) by his peers in 2003. The art of animation as practiced in modern day Iran started in 1950s. Iran’s animation is largely owed to Dr. Zarrinkelk who was instrumental in the establishing of the Institute for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults (IIDCYA) in Tehran in collaboration with the late father of Iranian graphics Morteza Momayez and other fellow artists like Farshid Mesghali, Ali Akbar Sadeghi and Arapik Baghdasarian, among others. Dr. Zarrinkelk has received numerous awards and accolades from around the world, including two Best Book Of The Year Awards from UNESCO, an honorary diploma from the San Francisco International Film Festival, and two Jury’s Special Award from the Tehran International Biennial.