A jury consisting of veterans and notables of the film and entertainment industry will judge all entries for creativity, quality and originality.
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 his directorial debut, EMPEROR, which was nominated for two NAACP Image Awards, most notably Outstanding Independent Motion Picture. Upcoming projects include NELLIE BLY, starring Chloe Grace Moretz in the leading role, and ZORRO 2.0, 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.
Lily Amir-Arjomand, is the visionary founder and champion behind one of the most progressive institutions for the culture, education and creativity of children and young adults, known as Kanoon in Iran.
The Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, commonly referred to as Kanoon, was involved in various cultural and artistic activities. Ms. Amir Arjomand was also at some point the Director of the National University Library of Iran, the National Iranian Oil Company Library, and an associate professor at Tehran University; she formed Kanoon by building a network of permanent and mobile libraries across Iran to promote culture and education to children and young adults.
Created in 1965, Kanoon had become a prolific cultural producer by 1969, involving itself in everything from book publishing and book illustration to film making, animation, theater, film festivals, and conferences. The organization was at the center of the vanguard of cultural production in Iran through the 1970s, serving as the platform through which many of Iran’s most highly regarded creative minds launched their careers. Kanoon quickly became a creative incubator that offered unprecedented freedom and support to an incredible group of artists, many of whom worked across different media, including filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, graphic designer Morteza Momayez, animator Noureddin Zarrinkelk, and painter Ali Akbar Sadeghi. Kanoon remains the single most important cultural and educational network for children in Iran.
Ghasem Ebrahimian is an award winning filmmaker who came to the US in 1974 to study cinema. He graduated from SUNY Purchase in1979. His thesis film, “WILLIE” earned him a Student Academy Award and was shown in festivals around the world and on Public Television’s Independent Focus.
He formed Ebrafilms with Coleen Higgins in1980 and the company produced over forty documentaries for Italian and French televisions among other commercial productions.
His feature film THE SUITORS (1988) which he wrote, directed and produced was an official selection for Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for Camera d’OR. THE SUITORS was theatrically released in the US and was shown on Germany’s WDR and UK’s Channel 4.
In 1997 he began his collaboration with Shirin Neshat on a number of filmed video Installations as director of photography and co-writer. Their first collaboration, “Turbulent”, won the first international prize at 1999 Venice Biennale. The following installations: Rapture, Soliloquy, Possessed, Fervor, Pulse, Mahdokht, Dreamers and Land of Dreams have been shown in Museums and galleries around the world. Ghasem wrote and directed the film portion of “Logic of the birds”, a multi disciplinary theatrical piece with Shirin Neshat and Sussan Deyhim. It premiered at Lincoln Center in New York and was presented at the Union Chapel by Artangel in London.
He worked on a number of documentaries for the South Bank Show (2001-2004) the longest running arts program in the UK. He wrote and directed “Cinema of fire”, filmed in Iran, focusing on the works of leading Iranian filmmakers such as Bahram Beyzai, Abbas Kiarostami and Darius Mehrjuie.
His short film, “The sacred, the absurd” (2005) about the last day of Sadegh Hedayat’s life in Paris, premiered at Victoria and Albert Museum in London and was nominated for best short film at Tribeca Film Festival.
As Director of Photography he has worked on a number if international feature films including: Greater Things (2015) in Japan. Dir: Vahid Hakimzadeh Icaros: A Vision (2016) in the Amazon, Peru. Dir: Leonor Caraballo|Matteo Norzi. Sins of My Father (2017/18) TV Series: in Turkey. Dir: Apo Uguz “Amerikatsi” (2020) filmed in Armenia. Dir: Michael Goorgian “Land of Dreams”(2020) filmed in New Mexico. Dir: Shirin Neshat/Shoja Azari
Ghasem’s feature screenplay writing credits include, “Tranquility”, ‘A Soldier of Fortune’ with Hubert Selby Jr. author of ‘Last Exit to Brooklyn.’ “Absolute Faith” based on his story, co-written with Donald E. Westlake. For UK based company Matmedia he wrote ‘Molana Rumi’, about the life and time of the great Persian poet. Ghasem was commissioned by Arte and Matmedia to write the screenplay for ‘House of Wisdom’ about the historical founding of Baghdad and the emergence of the house of wisdom that gave rise to five hundred years of documented scientific and artistic achievements.
Ghasem was also a visiting faculty at School of Visual Arts in New York City for two years, teaching a course on ‘directing actors for film.’
Paul Malcolm has been a film programmer for UCLA Film Television Archive since 2007. He was an associate programmer of feature and short films for the Los Angeles Film Festival 2006-2010. He has taught courses in the history and aesthetic of 3D film and film criticism at Chapman University. He has an MA in Film Studies from UCLA and is a Sundance Institute Arts Writing Fellow (2001).
Shahram Mokri began his filmmaking training in the Young Cinema Association and entered the professional world of cinema with his short film Dragonfly Storm (2002). Mokri received three Crystal Simorghs from the Fajr Film Festival for short films. He holds the record for receiving Crystal Simorghs in this category. In addition to filmmaking, Shahram Mokri has worked as a film Teacher at the Sooreh University of Tehran, the University of Arts, Karnameh Film School, and the Bamdad Film School. Mokri won the Venice Film Festival’s Horizons Award in 2013 for “Creative Content” for his film Fish and Cat; he also won a silver Hugo medal at the Chicago Film Festival for Careless Crime, and the Venice Critics’ Best Screenplay Award for the same film. Mokri is a founding member of the ISFA Cinema House Short Film Association. He has also served on the association’s board of directors for three terms. In 2003, he was selected as the best young man in the country in the field of art by the National Youth Organization. In addition, he was nominated for the 2013 Asia Pacific Screen Award for Achievement in Directing for Fish & Cat.
Sara Nodjoumi is an independent filmmaker, producer and festival programmer. Raised by Iranian émigré artists in New York City, her work often explores international subject matters featuring nuanced perspectives outside of the Western media focus and often challenging mainstream perceptions. Recent credits include WHEN GOD SLEEPS (2017), supported by the Sundance Institute, the Catapult Film Fund and various other documentary organizations, which premiered at Tribeca, played over 100 festivals worldwide, premiered nationally on Independent Lens, and won numerous international awards, before being shortlisted for the 2018 Academy Award in Germany. She previously produced THE IRAN JOB (2012), also shortlisted for a German Academy Award and released worldwide on Netflix. More recently, Nodjoumi and her producing and life partner, Till Schauder, released their latest documentary REGGAE BOYZ (2019), which received an Audience Award at Brooklyn Film Festival and screened in digital theaters across America. She is an alum of the Sundance Creative Producers Summit and the IFP Cannes Producers Network Fellowship. She was awarded the 2021 Inaugural Brown Girls Documentary Mafia Sustainable Artist Grant for UNTITLED NICKY NODJOUMI PROJECT, a personal documentary about her father – controversial Iranian painter Nicky Nodjoumi – that was recently commissioned by HBO. Nodjoumi is currently producing and directing KIDS, LIFE & ROCK ‘N’ ROLL, a coming-of-age doc about two kids (her own) trying to form a rock band in the middle of a pandemic. Sara worked with Mehran Hagigi at Homa Films to direct OF KINGS AND PAINTINGS, a mid-length documentary about Qajar art that premiered at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Now they are collaborating for a project in development about Persian Calligraphy.