Tag Archives: USA

U.S Wrestlers welcomed by chanting Iranian fans with gifts and flowers at the Freestyle World Cup 2017

The applause began as Team USA walked into the crowded stadium here at the Freestyle World Cup Wrestling championships in Kermanshah, Iran. The Iranians in the crowd whooped, cheered, and began chanting the name of Jordan Burroughs, the best known athlete here. […]

So it was again in Kermanshah, as Iranian fans welcomed Team USA — a powerhouse of the sport — with gifts and flowers. […]

“The welcome has been so gracious, it’s great being here,” said Burroughs, who has more Instagram followers from the Iranian capital Tehran than any other city in the world. “The reaction I get from fans here is more than what I get back in the States.” […]
— Source: Time

Unlike in politics, in wrestling there is a great deal of awe and respect between the US and Iran. “I have been wrestling overseas for three years now and every Iranian I have ever come in contact with has been extremely respectful, extremely polite,” US Olympic gold medalist Kyle Snyder said during a training session. “[While] there’s a little bit of turmoil politically, you definitely don’t see that within the sport. We respect each other as competitors and as people,” Snyder told CNN.

Wrestling is one of Iran’s favorite sports and many of team USA’s wrestlers are celebrities here. “In America we are misfits. In Iran we are heroes, so it is really cool to see,” Burroughs said. We’ve come to win before any political stance, but we think it’s an opportunity to show how cool and how great of a relationship we have on such an intricate level, “Burroughs said before Friday’s final. “[It’s about] seeing the people, being engaged with them and understanding their culture as much as we can before we make any big decisions about who they truly are.”
— Source: CNN

Winning the Freestyle Wrestling World Cup title for the sixth time in a row, Iran defeated USA in the 2017 final match, while Azerbaijan placed third with a victory over Turkey.

Later the US team wrote on their Instagram: “Thank you to the wonderful Iranian fans for cheering on our men throughout the World Cup & being gracious hosts!”

Detailed finals results: IRAN (IRI) 5 : 3 UNITED STATES (USA)
57 kg – Hassan Sabzali RAHIMI (IRI) df. Anthony Joseph RAMOS (USA), 6-0
61 kg – Masoud Mahmoud ESMAEILPOORJOUYBARI (IRI) df. Logan Jeffery STIEBER (USA), 6-2
65 kg – Meisam Abolfazl NASIRI (IRI) df. Frank Aniello MOLINARO (USA), 5-4
70 kg – Mostafa Mohabbali HOSSEINKHANI (IRI) df. James Malcolm GREEN (USA), 2-0
74 kg – Jordan Ernest BURROUGHS (USA) df. Peyman Morteza YARAHMADI (IRI), 3-2
86 kg – David Morris TAYLOR III (USA) df. Hassan Aliazam YAZDANICHARATI (IRI) by FALL, 10-4
97 kg – Kyle SNYDER (USA) df. Amir MOHAMMADI (IRI), 6-0
125 kg – Komeil GHASEMI (IRI) df. Nicholas Edward GWIAZDOWSKI (USA), 5-0

Other sources: teamusa.org, Instagram @alliseeisgold, Instagram @usawrestling, Instagram @unitedworldwrestling, unitedworldwrestling.org, Azad News Agency, BORNA, FARS 1, FARS 2, IRNA, ISNA, Tasnim News

Tehran was turned again into an art gallery (Photos)

Tehran hosted for its second consecutive year “A Gallery as big as a City”, an art event that turns the Iranian capital into a city-wide gallery where large-scale reproductions of hundreds of well-known artworks – both Western and Iranian – hang randomly along the city’s main arteries.

800 copies of artworks by artists across the world have been put on display on 2000 billboards in Tehran. Some of the billboards are dedicated to pictures of objects of cultural heritage, such as reproductions of traditional Persian miniatures, carpets and calligraphy but other also to paintings of Iranian artists like Jafar Rouhbakhsh.

Two-third of the works are from Iran and the rest have been selected from the world’s major artists, some of which may be famous enough to be recognized by nearly half of the population, such as Van Gogh’s The Starry Night or Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring.

Other international artists included are Americans Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol, Austrians Egon Schiele and Joseph Anton Koch, Belgian René Magritte, British Lucian Freud, French Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne and Henri Matisse, Germans Käthe Kollwitz and Caspar David Friedrich and Paul Klee, Italians Leonardo da Vinci (The last supper), Giorgio de Chirico, Japanese Gyokusen (artist name: Gyokkei) and Katsushika Hokusai and Spanish Pablo Picasso.

Related article: The other Iran | Photos compilation: A gallery as big as Tehran

Sources: kojaro.com, IRNA, shahrekhabar.com, Tehran Picture Agency, Payvand Iran News 1, Payvand Iran News 2, Hamshari Photo Agency, Iran Economist, Etemad Online, zibasazi.ir 1, zibasazi.ir 2, zibasazi.ir 3zibasazi.ir 4zibasazi.ir 5zibasazi.ir 6, Tehran Times, sothebys.com

 

Winners at RoboCup IranOpen 2016 (Photos)

The 11th edition of RoboCup IranOpen took place at Tehran International Fairground. Around 2000 university and high school students from different countries competed in three categories including humanoids, flying robots and rescuers, divided into different leagues and difficulty levels. A total of 320 teams, 306 from Iran and 14 teams from abroad (Afghanistan, Canada, China, Germany, the Netherlands, Peru, South Korea, United Kingdom and the USA), competed at this event.

The IranOpen has been organized by the Iranian RoboCup National Committee and Qazvin Azad University. The Committee was officially formed in July 2006 with the objective of promoting robotics and artificial intelligence research.

Winners RoboCup Soccer – 2D Simulation League
1st – Nexus 2D (Ferdowsi University Mashhad, Iran)
2nd – Miracle 2016 (Hefei Normal University, China)
3rd – MT2016 (Hefei University, China)
Technical challenge: Shiraz (Shiraz, Iran)

Winners RoboCup Soccer – 3D Simulation League
1st – UTAustinVilla (University of Texas at Austin, USA)
2nd – Apollo3D (Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications, China)
3rd – Kylinsky3D (Hohai University Wentian College, China)

Winners RoboCup Soccer – Small Size Robot League
1st – Immortals (Robotics Engineering Center, University of Tehran)
2nd – MRL (Azad University of Qazvin, Iran)
3rd – ZJUNLict (Zhejiang University, China)
Small Size robot soccer (or F180) focuses on the problem of intelligent multi-agent cooperation and control in a highly dynamic environment with a hybrid centralized/distributed system.

Winners RoboCup Soccer – Humanoid League (Adult, teen and kid size)
Adult: 1st – Baset Adult-Size (Baset Pazhuh Tehran Co, Iran)
Teen: 1st – AUTMan Teen (Amirkabir University, Iran / University of Manitoba, Canada)
Kid Size
1st – Bold Hearts (University of Hertfordshire, United Kingdom)
2nd – Parand Kid-Size (Azad University of Parand, Iran)
3rd – FUmanoids (Freie Universität Berlin, Germany)

Winners RoboCup Soccer – Standard Platform League
1st – Nao Team HTWK (HTWK Leipzig, Germany)
2nd – DAlnamite (TU Berlin / DAI-Labor, Germany)
Innovation challenge: MRL-SPL (Azad University of Qazvin, Iran)
The RoboCup Standard Platform League is a RoboCup robot soccer league, in which all teams compete with identical robots.

Winners RoboCup Rescue – Rescue Agent Simulation League
1st MRL (Azad University of Qazvin, Iran)
2nd S.O.S (Amirkabir University of Technology Tehran, Iran)
3rd Poseidon (Farzanegan High School Tehran, Iran)
Technical challenge: RAS-ROSHD (Roshd High School Tehran, Iran)

Winners RoboCup Rescue – Rescue Robot League
1st – MRL (Azad University of Qazvin, Iran)
2nd – YRA (Azad University of Yazd, Iran)
3rd – VRU (Vali-e-Asr University of Rafsanjan, Iran)
Skill, discovery and mobility challenge: MRL
Flying rescue challenge: YRA

Winners RoboCup@Work
1st – ACE IAUK (Azad University of Kerman, Iran)
2nd – MEC (Shariati Technical College Tehran, Iran)

Winners RoboCup Junior – Soccer Open
1st – Helli Afra (Allameh Helli High School 10, Tehran, Iran)
2nd – AMOS (Salam Zeynoddin High School, Iran)
3rd – Allameh Tabatabaei (Allameh Tabatabaei High School)

Winners IranOpenDeminer – Tele-Operated Deminer Robots
1st – YRA (Azad University of Yazd, Iran)
2nd – Pasargad (Amirkabir University of Technology, Iran)
3rd (joint) – SRC (Azad University of Tabriz, Iran) and Malayer University (Malayer University, Hamedan, Iran)

Winners IranOpenDeminer – Small Size Intelligent Deminer Robots
1st – khayyam Robotic (Azad University of Neyshabur, Iran)
2nd – ROBOSINA (Bu-Ali Sina University, Hamedan, Iran)
3rd – RTL (Azad University of Arak, Iran)

Winners IranOpenUAV
1st (joint) – MRL (Azad University of Qazvin, Iran) and KN2C (K.N.Toosi University Tehran, Iran)
3rd – Cyrus UAV (Azad University of Kermanshah, Iran)

Winners IranOpenROV
1st – MRL (Azad University of Qazvin, Iran)
2nd – anZan Of Persian Gulf (Applied Science University of Ahvaz, Iran)

Related articles: The other Iran | Robocup

Video: Mehr News Agency | RoboCup IranOpen 2016

Sources: 2016 IranOpen; Mehr News Agency (MNA) 1; MNA 2; BORNA News; Fars News; IRNA 1; IRNA 2; ISNA 1; ISNA 2 (in Persian); Jam-e Jam Online 1; Jam-e Jam Online 2; dai-labor.de; Baltimore Sun; Epoch Times (in Persian); Facebook | DAI-Labor

Iran via Documentaries: Docunight is hosting Iran documentaries for audiences in the US and Canada

On the last Wednesday of every month, Docunight screens a documentary about, around, or made in Iran or by Iranians in various cities throughout the US and Canada. ‘The Glass House’ by Hamid Rahmanian (2008, 92min) will be  on October 28th.

Docunight is a monthly program, focused on screening Iran-related documentaries that began in San Francisco and has grown to screen films in other cities including New York, Los Angeles, Washington, San Diego, Minneapolis, Washington, Vancouver and Toronto.

Organized by efforts of Ahmad Kiarostami in collaboration with NIAC in the US and ECUPC in Vancouver, the program aims to create an opportunity for cultural exchange and to provide proper grounds for foreign audiences to better understand the Iranian society.

For information on upcoming screenings please visit:
www.docunight.com or Facebook | Docunight

These are the documentaries that have been shown so far:
– Trucker and the Fox (2014, 78min, Dir: Arash Lahooti)
– Abbas Kiarostami: A Report (2013, 82min, Dir: Bahman Maghsoudlou)
– Iranien (Iranian) (2014, 105min, Dir: Mehran Tamadon)
– Going Up the Stairs (2011, 52min, Dir: Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami)
Behjat Sadr (2006, 46min, Produced by Marjaneh Moghimi, Dir: Mitra Farahani)
Monir (2014, 54min, Produced by: Leyla Fakhr, Dir: Bahman Kiarostami)
– Caged (2013, 52min, Dir: Tala Hadavi)
Street Sultans (2011, 38min, Dir: Paliz Khoshdel, Zeinab Tabrizy)
– Before The Revolution (2013, 60min, Dir: Dan Shadur & Barak Heymann)
– Molf-e Gand (2009, 53min, Dir: Mahmoud Rahmani)
– I Saw Shoush (2002, 8min, Dir: Bahman Kiarostami)
Infidels (2004, 40min, Dir: Bahman Kiarostami)
Pilgrimage (2005, 52min, Marjaneh Moghimi for Butimar Production, Dir: Bahman Kiarostami)
The Bathhouse That Wanted To Keep On Being A Bathhouse (2010, 52min, Dir: Mehdi Shabani)
Park Mark (2010, 42min, Dir: Baktash Abtin)
“Mory” Wants A Wife (2009, 42min, Dir: Baktash Abtin)
Be Like Others (2008, 74min, Dir: Tanaz Eshaghian)
The Law In These Parts (2011, 90min, Dir: Ra’anan Alexandrowicz)
My Name Is Negahdar Jamali And I Make Westerns (2012, 65min, Directed by Kamran Heidari)
Lady of the Roses (2008, 52min, by Mojtaba Mirtahmasb)
Back Vocal (2004, 40min, by Mojtaba Mirtahmasb)
Kahrizak, Four Views (2012, 86min, Dir: Rakhshan Bani Etemad, Mohsen Amiryoussefi, Bahman Kiarostami, Pirooz Kalantari)
Bassidji (2009, 114mins, Directed by Mehran Tamadon)
Red Lines and Deadlines: Life behind the scenes of the Iranian newspaper Shargh (2004, 5-53min, Filmed, produced and directed by Taghi Amirani)
Statues of Tehran (2008, 60min, Dir: Bahman Kiarostami)

Sources: docunight.com, Tavoos Online

12th International Open Chess Tournament “Avicenna Cup” in Hamedan, Iran (Photos)

The 12th Avicenna International Open Chess Tournament was organized by the Hamedan Chess Association and Iranian Chess Federation from September 2-9, 2015, in the Iranian city of Hamedan.

The event was an 11-round Swiss open with time control 90′ + 30″.

GM Oleg Korneev from Spain emerged a sole winner with 9.5/11 points, leaving the runner-up, 2015 Iranian champion GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami, half a point behind.

The 15-year-old Parham Maghsoodloo clinched the bronze medal on a superior tie-break score, after sharing 3-7th place with 8.5 points. Maghsoodloo has just qualified for the FIDE World Cup 2015.

Top 10:

1 GM Korneev Oleg 2578 ESP 9.5
2 GM Ghaem Maghami Ehsan 2596 IRI 9
3 Maghsoodloo Parham 2447 IRI 8.5
4 FM Mousavi Seyed Khalil 2427 IRI 8.5
5 Mosadeghpour Masoud 2416 IRI 8.5
6 Dalir Alireza 2297 IRI 8.5
7 IM Asgarizadeh Ahmad 2402 IRI 8.5
8 GM Toufighi Homayoon 2400 IRI 8
9 Sedaghati Mehrdad 2238 IRI 8
10 Faghirnavaz Ali 2298 IRI 8

Sources: ISNA | Photos, MEHR| Photos, Tasnim | Photos, Chessdom.com

Iran’s Pallet band launches concert tour in US

Iran’s Pallet music band has launched its new international concert tour with a successful performance in the US city of Portland. The group went on stage in Portland, Oregon on September 11. The tour will continue with concerts in 11 other US cities and wrap up in Washington D.C on October 4.

Iran's Pallett-music-band-US-tourAccording to bandleader and clarinetist Rouzbeh Esfandarmaz, Pallet will perform pieces from its two albums ‘Mr. Violet’ and ‘Tehran, Smile.’

Vocalist Omid Nemati, cellist Mahyar Tahmasebi, guitarist Kaveh Salehi and double-bass player Dariush Azar accompany Esfandarmaz during the tour.

The fusion band Pallet has held many concerts in Iran and other countries such as France, Germany, Sweden, Italy and the Netherlands.

More songs from Pallet: http://www.last.fm/music/Pallet+Band

Source: Payvand | News, Youtube.com

Iran’s exceptional reaction to 9/11 attacks: candlelit vigils for the victims and 60k soccer fans respected a minute’s silence

“Iran’s sympathetic response to the American tragedy has been exceptional for a country under US economic siege for two decades. Only hours after the Sept. 11 attack, President Muhammad Khatami condemned it, as did Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Other officials have sent sympathetic messages, including one from the mayor of Tehran to the mayor of New York – the first public official contact between Iran and the US since the 1979 Iranian revolution. […]

More important, 60,000 spectators observed a minute of silence during a soccer match in Iran’s Azadi Stadium, and hundreds of young Iranians held a candle-lit vigil in Tehran.”
Source: The Christian Science Monitor | US and Iran must work together against Taliban by R. K. Ramazani – September 24, 2001

“Iranian women light candles in Tehran’s Mohseni Square in memory of the victims of the terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington DC. [see first picture above] […]

Even the most hardline Islamic clerics, who despise the United States, have been shocked into silence by the attacks. President Mohammad Khatami set the tone for Iran’s reaction with a statement that in Persian rang with deep compassion: ‘On behalf of the Iranian people and the Islamic Republic, I denounce the terrorist measures, which led to the killing of defenseless people, and I express my deep sorrow and sympathy with the American people.’ […]

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned the attacks which have been blamed on Saudi-born Osama bin Laden. […]

‘Why should Americans deserve this? That’s a sick thought. They are just ordinary people like us,’ said Massoud Moshiri, as he bought cigarettes at a juice stand.” […]
Source: Times.com | Photoessay | Iran mourns America’s dead – September 18, 2001

On Tuesday, Ayatollah Khamenei, in his first public remarks on last week’s attacks, markedly failed to brand the United States an enemy. ‘Islam condemns the massacre of defenseless people, whether Muslim or Christian or others, anywhere and by any means,’ he said, adding pointedly: ‘And so Iran condemns any attack on Afghanistan that may lead to another human tragedy.’ […]

On Tuesday, more than than 3,000 mostly young people held a candlelight vigil in Tehran for the victims of the terror attacks, closely watched by security forces.

One reformist member of Parliament, Ahmad Borghani, even went to the United States interest section at the Swiss Embassy on Tuesday with a wreath of white flowers to sign the memorial book in sympathy with the family’s of the victims. ‘This tragedy has brought the two countries closer,’ he said. ‘But the United States must not expect Iran to cooperate in a military attack — considering our past relations.’
Source: The New York Times | World | A NATION CHALLENGED: TEHRAN; Iran Softens Tone Against the United States by Nazila Fathi – September 21, 2001

“IRAN — President Mohammad Khatami condemned ‘terrorist’ attacks on the United States”
Source: The New York Times | US | Reaction from around the world – September 12, 2001

“Leaders of Middle Eastern nations, including U.S. foes Libya and Iran, have condemned the terror attacks on the U.S. […] Mohammad Khatami, the Iranian president, said he felt ‘deep regret and sympathy with the victims.’ ”
Source: CNN.com | World | Attacks draw mixed response in Mideast – September 12, 2001

“Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, a moderate who is struggling for power against the country’s hard-line Islamic leaders, expressed ‘deep regret and sympathy with the victims’ and said ‘it is an international duty to try to undermine terrorism.’ ”
Source: FoxNews.com – September 12, 2001

“And in Iran, Tehran’s main football stadium observed an unprecedented minute’s silence in sympathy with the victims. Iran’s Ayatollah Imami Kashani spoke of a catastrophic act of terrorism which could only be condemned by all Muslims, adding the whole world should mobilise against terrorism.”
Source: BBC News | World | Americas | Islamic world deplores US losses – September 14, 2001

“Even in Tehran, where anti-American chants are all too common, thousands of people attending a World Cup qualifying match between Bahrain and Iran observed a moment of silence.”
Source: The New York Times | US | AFTER THE ATTACKS: THE VIGILS; Surrounded by Grief, People Around the World Pause and Turn to Prayer by Dan Barry – September 15, 2001

“In Iran, antipathy toward the United States was set aside as 60,000 spectators and players observed a minute of silence at the Tehran soccer stadium before a World Cup qualifying match.”
Source: Spartanburg Herald-Journal | REACTION ABROAD | World grieves along with America by Audrey Woods from Associated Press – September 15, 2001

“Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has strongly condemned the suicide terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. ‘Mass killings of human beings are catastrophic acts which are condemned’ he said ‘wherever they may happen and whoever the perpetrators and the victims may be’. ”
Source: BBC News | World | Middle East | Iran condemns attacks on US – September 17, 2001

“Last week, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of Iran, one of the most conservative and anti-American Muslim clerical leaders, called the fight against terrorism a ‘holy war.’ He joins a host of learned Muslims who have loudly condemned terrorism as forbidden in Islamic law in the wake of the attacks on Sept. 11.”
Source: The New York Times | Opinion | Islam and the opposition to terrorism by Roy Mottahedeh – September 30, 2001

“After news of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks spread to Tehran, hundreds of Iranians, students, merchants and housewives joined in a candlelight vigil in a downtown square. Many were crying. Three weeks later, I am still approached by ordinary Iranians, in restaurants, Internet cafes and on the street, telling me how sorry they are, and how worried they are about the ‘American war’ that is about to begin, just next door.”
Source: NBC News | Inside Iran, a nation conflicted by Jim Maceda – October 7, 2001

“On the evening of September 11, 2001, about two hundred young people gathered in Madar Square, on the north side of Tehran, in a spontaneous candlelight vigil to express sympathy and support for the United States. A second vigil, the next night, was attacked by the basij, a volunteer force of religious vigilantes, and then dispersed by the police. […]

The statement that Mohammad Khatami, Iran’s popularly elected President, made was extraordinary — extraordinary to American ears, at least. ‘My deep sympathy goes out to the American nation, particularly those who have suffered from the attacks and also the families of the victims,’ he said. ‘Terrorism is doomed, and the international community should stem it and take effective measures in a bid to eradicate it.’ ”
Source: The New Yorker | Letter from Tehran | Shadow Land by Joe Klein – February 18, 2002

“Iranian Students are calling for pro-american demonstrations, marking 9/11
A Public Call For Rememberance of the 9/11 Tragedy […]
Now, with the first anniversary of 9/11 tragedy upon us, as SMCCDI expresses its sympathy to the families of the victims and survivors of that ungodly event, and the honorable nation of America; it invites all free spirited Iranians to honor the memory of the victims of that day by gathering and lighting a candle in front of the main entrance of the Tehran university and major public squares in Tehran, and the main squares in other cities and townships, from 6:00 PM till 9:00 PM, on Wednesday 11 September.”
Source: daneshjoo.org | Post 1873 by SMCCDI Political Committee – September 10, 2002

“Finally, I’ve found a pro-American country. Everywhere I’ve gone in Iran, with one exception, people have been exceptionally friendly and fulsome in their praise for the United States […]. Iran is also the only Muslim country I know where citizens responded to the 9/11 attacks with a spontaneous candlelight vigil as a show of sympathy. ”
Source: The New York Times | Opinion | OP-ED Columnist: Those Friendly Iranians by Nicholas D. Kristof – May 5, 2004

“Ordinary Iranians have long had a softer stance toward the West than their leaders; after the Sept. 11 attacks, Iranians held a spontaneous candlelight vigil in Tehran.”
Source: Chicago Tribune | News | Contenders for Iranian presidency talk up U.S. by Evans Osnos – June 12, 2005

“In Iran, vast crowds turned out on the streets and held candlelit vigils for the victims. Sixty-thousand spectators respected a minute’s silence at Tehran’s football stadium.”
Source: BBC News | Middle East | Iran-US: Gulf of misunderstanding by Gordon Corera – September 25, 2006

“Mourners held a spontaneous candlelight vigil as thousands of people took to the streets of north Tehran chanting, ‘Death to terrorists.’ Iranian soccer fans observed a minute of silence before a match with Bahrain. Even Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned the attacks: ‘Mass killing is wrong, whether it’s in Hiroshima, Bosnia, New York, or Washington.’ During Friday prayers at Qom, Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini said that the Iranian people grieved with the relatives of those killed, and the traditional slogan ‘Death to America’ was absent from the crowds’ mantras.
Source: Command Posts | Focus on: 9/11, Iran | After 9/11: The United States and Iran by David Crist – September 11, 2012

“Iranians mourn 9/11 victims”
Sources: shabhaft.blogfa.com | Post 134 and LiveLeak.com | Forgotten fact: night of 9/11, Iran – Spontaneous candlelight vigil to express sympathy and support for the American people

Other must read Iran-USA news: The other Iran | Tag | USA

” 2001/09/11, thousands and thousands Iranians went instantly in the streets with candles in homage to the victims ”
http://news.blogs.cnn.com/category/terrorism/september-11/” iranians mourn 9/11 victims ”
http://shabhaft.blogfa.com/post-134.aspx” Iranian Students are calling for pro-american demonstrations, marking 9/11 ”
http://daneshjoo.org/article/publish/printer_1873.shtml
Read more at http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=44b_1359356589&comments=1#DDqQZ5dOfJ70MPYf.99
” 2001/09/11, thousands and thousands Iranians went instantly in the streets with candles in homage to the victims ”
http://news.blogs.cnn.com/category/terrorism/september-11/” iranians mourn 9/11 victims ”
http://shabhaft.blogfa.com/post-134.aspx” Iranian Students are calling for pro-american demonstrations, marking 9/11 ”
http://daneshjoo.org/article/publish/printer_1873.shtml
Read more at http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=44b_1359356589&comments=1#DDqQZ5dOfJ70MPYf.99In Iran, vast crowds turned out on the streets and held candlelit vigils for the victims. Sixty-thousand spectators respected a minute’s silence at Tehran’s football stadium. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5377914.stm

Iran’s basketball team crowned champion in 2015 William Jones Cup in Taiwan

The Iranian national men’s basketball team has finished first at the 2015 William Jones Cup in Taiwan, after pulling off an emphatic victory over Russian squad Spartak Primorye.

On Saturday, the Iranian sportsmen registered a 78-54 win against the Vladivostok-based side in a match staged at the Xinzhuang Gymnasium in New Taipei City.

In the history of the William Jones Cup, Iran is the second most successful nation behind the United States.

Former NBA player Hamed Haddadi was selected as Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
Haddadi, his Iranian team mate Mehdi Kamrani were also named as part of the “Mythical Five” of the tournament.

About William Jones Cup:

The R. William Jones Cup (also known as the Jones Cup) is an international basketball tournament held annually since 1977 in Taipei, Taiwan. It was named in honor of basketball promoter Renato William Jones, who was one of the founders of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). Like the Olympics and the FIBA Basketball World Cup, it has both men’s and women’s versions. The men’s version is currently being dominated by American teams since the tournament’s inaugural staging.

Sources: Payvand | News, wikipedia | William Jones Cup, MEHR | Photos, Bleacherreport

4th Persian Film Festival in Sydney, Australia, from September 3rd to 6th, 2015

The 4th Persian Film Festival is on from September 3rd to 6th at Palace Norton Street Cinemas, showcasing the best of Iranian cinema and the Persian speaking world. Over four days the festival offers its viewers a great line-up of 22 films including features, documentaries, short films and animations, and Q&A sessions with filmmakers from Iran, USA and Australia.

The festival is hosting a free screening of a number of award winning short films and animations from across Iran and from Iranian filmmakers in Australia, including the screening of Oscar nominated Simorgh by Meghdad Asadi, and current official selection at MIFF 2015 The Phoenix by Nora Nasiri, as well as, Sydney based filmmaker’s How Can Be Both by Saeed Sourati.

The displayed Movies and their directors are:

The President by Mohsen Makhmalbaf
A Few Cubic Meters of Love by Jamshid Mahmoudi
Block 9 Exit 2 by Alireza Amini
The Ride (Darbast) by Ali Khameparast Fard
I Want To Be A King by Mehdi Ganji
Impression-xps160 by Tiyam Yabandeh

Other films are:

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Ranging in subject matter and style, the films offer short glimpses into contemporary and important social and cultural issues.

Opening Film: The President by Mohsen Makhmalbaf

Opening Film: The President by Mohsen Makhmalbaf

Other posts about Iranian cinema and its stars: click here

Sources: Persian Film Festival, Persian Film Festival | Free sessions, Persian Film Festival | Directors, Persian Film Festival | Movies

Duluth orchestra and Iranian composer make music history

For perhaps the first time since the Iranian revolution in 1979, an Iranian composer living in Iran collaborated with an American orchestra. It was the world premiere of “Kalileh,” a classic Persian fable set to music by composer Hooshyar Khayam, performed on July by the Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra (LSCO), in Duluth, Minnesota.

The story of how a small orchestra in Duluth commissioned an original piece from a young Iranian composer begins last year, when conductor and artistic director Warren Friesen needed six more minutes of music for a concert. “So I literally went into YouTube, and I put in ‘piano and strings’ and let’s see what comes up,” he recalled. Thousands of pieces did and Friesen listened to snippets of dozens of them.

“I came across a piece called ‘Stained Glass’ by a composer I’d never heard of, with this funny name of Hooshyar Khayam. […] At this point I didn’t even know that Hooshyar was living in Tehran. All I knew was that I liked his music.” The LSCO performed the piece last July in Duluth, and an unlikely friendship was born between the 62-year-old Friesen and 36-year-old Khayam.

“I was very much moved by the extreme power of the musicians in the American orchestra, who could in fact play the Persian rhythms with that accuracy and that perfection,” Khayam said. So after that performance, Khayam agreed to create an original piece for shadow puppets and chamber orchestra based on an ancient Indian/Persian fable of the composer’s choice to play this year. Ultimately, Khayam added a youth chorus into the mix.

The result is “Kalileh,” based on an ancient Persian fable of the same name, which tells the story of a jackal, a trickster character, who seeks to become more powerful by becoming more beautiful. “The opening chorus, which I love, says ‘Come, Come Wanderer, lover of leaving, even if you have broken your vow a thousand times, come, come.’ It’s such a beautiful invitation,” Friesen said. The lyrics, explained Friesen, are verses of poetry written by famous 13th-century Persian poets Saadi and Rumi.

Khayam said the work “for me was more than a professional commission. I personally believe that ‘Kalileh’ shows something deeper of this relation of me as an Iranian with this wonderful orchestra in America. […] I’m always searching for sort of a higher meaning than only notes to listen to. […] The most important ingredient of this collaboration is that fact that it’s happening between two countries who have had years of misunderstanding and years of conflict.”

Khayam has collaborated with Friesen and others through Skype over the past year and visited Duluth for the performances.

All USA-Iran related posts on this blog: The other Iran | USA

About Hooshyar Khayam
Hooshyar Khayam (b. 1978) is an Iranian musician. He is active as a composer, pianist, and conductor. His works are in contemporary classical, contemporary jazz, Persian/world music; and in music for film, animation, dance, and theater.

He is the finalist of the Queen Elisabeth International Composition Competition for his piano concerto Before the Dream is Over (2013), first prize award winner of Franz Schubert and Modern Music International Composition Competition for his trio I Waited for You in Rain (2011), finalist of the Mauricio Kagel International Composition Competition (2013); Winner of Culture and Music Critic’s Prize: Tehran’s best album of the year for Tatari (2007); and 4-star winner Top of the World Albums by Songlines (75th issue) for his album All of You (with Amir Eslami, 2011) as distinctive music of Middle East.

Khayam has BM in Persian Music, University of Art, Tehran; AD in Piano Performance, Trinity College, London; MM and DMA in Composition, College-Conservatory of Music, Cincinnati. He lives and works in Tehran as an independent artist.

About Warren Friesen
Warren Friesen on Facebook

Further read: Duluth News Tribune | Duluth’s Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra set to bridge cultures with new work

Sources: Minnesota Public Radio News, Hooshyar Khayam | Biography, Duluth Reader | A musical blowout at the end of July 2015

Iran puts on remarkable show at RoboCup 2015 in China

The 19th RoboCup Tournament took place from July 19th to July 23rd, 2015 in Hefei City, East China with more than 2000 participants from 47 countries. The Iranian teams achieved three first places, three second places and two third places along with top spots at technical challenges and other awards.

Many Iranian High Schools participated at the event. At the 2D Simulation RoboCup Soccer Competition, Phonix from Atomic Energy High School was awarded Best New Team, finishing 10th. At the same competition HERMES from Allameh Helli Highschool was 5th and Genius2015 from Ghazal High School, Shiraz was 11th.

Detailed results for top Iranian teams

1) RoboCup Rescue Competition
Rescue Simulation: 1st S.O.S (Amirkabir University of Technology, Iran), 2nd MRL (Mechatronic Research Lab, Islamic Azad University of Qazvin, Iran), 3rd SEU_Jolly (China)

Rescue Robot: 1st MRL (Iran), 2nd iRAP_Junior (Thailand), 3rd YRA (Islamic Azad University of Yazd, Iran) // Innovative User Interface Award: Hector Darmstadt (Germany) and MRL (Iran).

2) RoboCup Soccer Competition
Humanoid League – Adult Size: 1st THORwIn (USA), 2nd Baset Adult-Size (Baset Pazhuh Tehran Cooperation, Iran), 3rd HuroEvolution AD (Taiwan) // Technical challenges: 1st Baset Adult-Size (Iran), 2nd HuroEvolution AD (Taiwan) and CIT Brains Adult (Japan), 3rd THORwIn (USA)

Humanoid League – Teen Size: 1st Team Parand (Parand Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran), 2nd HuroEvolution TN (Taiwan), 3rd AUT-UofM (Amirkabir University of Technology – University of Manitoba, Iran – Canada) // Technical challenges: 1st HuroEvolution TN (Taiwan), 2nd place shared between WF Wolves & Taura Bots Teen (Germany & Brazil) and AUT-UofM (Iran & Canada)

Small Size: 1st CMDragons, Carnegie Mellon University (USA), 2nd MRL, Qazvin Islamic Azad University (Iran), 3rd ZJUNlict, Zhejiang University (China) // Technical challenges: 1st ER-Force (Germany), 2nd ZJUNlict (China), 3rd MRL (Iran)

Middle Size: 1st Water (China), 2nd TechUnited Eindhoven (Netherlands), 3rd ARES (China) // Technical challenges: 1st MRL (Iran), 2nd NuBot (China), 3rd Tech United Eindhoven (Netherlands)

2D Simulation: 1st WrightEagle, University of Science and Technology of China (China), 2nd HELIOS2015, Fukuoka University, Osaka Prefecture University, (Japan), 3rd Gliders2015, University of Sydney and CSIRO (Australia) // Best New Team: Phonix (Atomic Energy High School, Iran).

About RoboCup
RoboCup is an annual international robotics competition aiming to promote robotics and artificial intelligence research, by offering a publicly appealing, but formidable challenge. The name RoboCup is a contraction of the competition’s full name, “Robot Soccer World Cup”, but there are many other stages of the competition such as “RoboCupRescue”, “RoboCup@Home” and “RoboCupJunior”. The official goal of the project is “By the middle of the 21st century, a team of fully autonomous humanoid robot soccer players shall win a soccer game, complying with the official rules of FIFA, against the winner of the most recent World Cup.”

Other related articles: The other Iran | RoboCup

Sources: RoboCup 2015 | Results, Mehr News Agency | News 1, Wikipedia | RoboCup, Mehr News Agency | Photos, RoboCup Humanoid League, Mehr News Agency | News 2

John Speraw, U.S. men’s national volleyball team head coach: “Iranians are wonderful people”

“My first impression was that everyone here has been incredibly hospitable. Everyone has been very nice. They have gone out of their way to make sure that we had really nice experience here. I think we have enjoyed it tremendously.”

“We had the opportunity to get out into the city one day. We went to the [Milad Tower] and learning a little more about Tehran, and I think that is good for us. We went to a nice lunch on the [Darakeh] hills. I think we wanted to do those things because I think we are all aware that the portrait of the relationship between Iran and the United States is inaccurate in the media. Probably on both sides, my guess.”

“What I know and have known from spending time with Iran and the United States both last year and this year is that the relationship between the people is not reflective of the relationship between our governments and that the Iranian people are wonderful people and have treated us kindly.”

“I think we have shown the same because America is a wonderful country with wonderful people too. Yes, it a great place, so the message we would bring back is this: it was a great trip and we look forward to coming here again. And I think we have much better understanding of what the environment is both inside the arena and outside.”

Iran coach Slobodan Kovac added: “I want to say something about this. We want to return this hospitality (Mr. Speraw said about); last year we stayed in the USA for more than fifteen days. Everything was perfect. They gave us the maximum things to prepare for world championship.”

Read all posts on this blog related to USA-Iran here: https://theotheriran.com/category/usa/

IRAN - USA -- USA & Iran national coaches at the press conference before the match

Speraw and Kovac in press conference before the match on June 19 (Photo credit: FIVB)

About John Speraw and Slobodan Kovač
John Speraw is an American volleyball coach. He is the head coach of the United States men’s volleyball team and UCLA. He was the former coach of UC Irvine volleyball program where he led the team to three national titles in six years. Speraw graduated from UCLA in 1995 with a B.S. degree in micro-biology and molecular genetics.

Slobodan Kovač is a Serbian former volleyball player and current coach. He is coaching Iran men’s national volleyball team until the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Previously competing for Yugoslavia, he won a bronze medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and won his first gold medal with the Yugoslav team at Sydney at the 2000 Summer Olympics.

Source: FIVB | World League 2015 | News, Wikipedia | John Speraw, Wikipedia | Slobodan Kovač, TPA | US national volleyball team visited Milad Tower, Tasnim News | Photos

Iranian actress’ Motamed-Arya portrait displayed at UN exhibit in New York (Photos)

A portrait of the acclaimed Iranian actress Fatemeh Motamed-Arya is displayed besides 15 international figures at a multimedia exhibition titled ‘The Transformative Power of Art’ at the UN Exhibits in New York. The exhibition features sculptures and large fresco portraits of artists who have stood up for human rights.

Motamed-Arya, 54, is involved in humanitarian activities and helps raise funds for different charities. Her latest gesture is putting up her Crystal Simorgh award, presented to her for the role of best actress in ‘Gilaneh’ in 2005, on sale to support people deprived of a home in Iran. She has been nominated nine times for the best actress award at the Fajr International Film Festival and won the Crystal Simorgh four times. She had a role in Rakhshan Bani-Etemad’ celebrated film ‘The Tales’ and played the lead character in ‘Nabaat’, Azerbaijan’s nominee for the Best Foreign Language Film in the 2014 Academy Awards.

The objective of the exhibition – curated by painter and sculptor Fabrizio Ruggiero – is to demonstrate that art creates bridges where politics divide. It takes place under the United Nations “2015: Time for Global Action” campaign, primarily destined to raise awareness about climate change and our fragile ecosystems.

The sculptures are made of many natural elements and the 16 accompanying portraits represent people from all continents who, during their lifetime, contributed to the common good of humanity in one way or another and have transformed the way we think. The men and women who are represented never lost sight of the most vulnerable.

They are: Pierre-Claver Akendengué (Gabon), Maya Angelou (USA), Joan Baez (USA), Audrey Hepburn (UK), Vassily Kandinsky (Russia), Umm Kulthum (Egypt), Gong Li (China), Miriam Makeba (South Africa), Edgar Morin (France), Fatemeh Motamed-Arya (Iran), Okot p’Bitek (Uganda), Satyajit Ray (India), Sebastião Salgado (Brazil), Wole Soyinka (Nigeria), Ngugi Wa Thiong’o (Kenya), and Malala Yousafzai (Pakistan).

Sources: IRNA | News, United Nations | News

Volleyball: World League 2015 – Iran wins against previously unbeaten USA

Shahram Mahmoudi scored 17 points to lead Iran to a 3-0 (25-19, 29-27, 25-20 victory over the previously unbeaten USA. The first leg in Los Angeles ended with a 3-1 triumph for the USA. Today’s match report: FIVB | World League 2015 | News

Iran is in Pool B with Poland, Russia and the US. Previously Iran defeated twice Olympic champion Russia on home soil but lost both games to Poland early June in Czestochowa, Poland. At the 2014 World League Iran finished on 4th place behind USA, Brazil and Italy.

Other related Iran-USA articles: The other Iran | USA

Sources: FIVBPress TV | News, TPA (Tehran Press Agency) | US national volleyball team visited Milad Tower, Fars News Agency | Photos, Tasnim News Agency | Photos, IRNA | Photos

Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian: First Iranian artist to have a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim, New York

Farmanfarmaian, now 92, is a renowned Iranian visual artist known for her geometric style and mirror sculptures. She became the first Iranian artist to have her work featured in a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim; a retrospective, spanning four decades of work: “Infinite Possibility: Mirror Works and Drawings 1974–2014”, organized by the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto, Portugal.

In 2011, Vogue — where she worked early on as a freelance illustrator — featured her when she was the subject of an art book. “Whatever time I have left, I want to make art,” she said in the Vogue interview. “And I hope it will be worthwhile to see it.”

Contemporary Iranian art has a decades-long history in the West — though artists are now exhibiting their work with increasing frequency in the United States and Europe.

From September 2013 to January 2014, the Asia Society in New York exhibited Iran Modern. The show featured a diverse body of work from numerous artists that spanned the three decades leading up to the revolution of 1979.

In January and February of this year, the Taymour Grahne Gallery presented Traveling Demons, a collection of colorful and haunting pieces by Malekeh Nayiny, who was born in Tehran and currently lives in Paris.

And while Farmanfarmaian’s work was at the Guggenheim, the works of famed sculptor Parviz Tanavoli was on display at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College. Like Farmanfarmaian, Tanavoli is also the first Iranian artist to have a solo show at that space.

Shiva Balaghi co-curated the Tanavoli exhibition, and is a visiting scholar in Middle Eastern studies at Brown University. As one of the few academics in the country who specializes in Middle Eastern art history, Balaghi is quick to debunk notions of an Iranian art renaissance in the U.S., despite its recent popularity in the American art world.

“A reemergence is not really true,” she told BuzzFeed News. “The fact that there’s a growing interest in the West is key, not that this art hasn’t been made before.” Balaghi’s theory is that art institutions are beginning to look beyond Iran’s current political climate and explore the country through its art.

“It’s almost like museums are taking on this cultural diplomacy role,” she said. “There’s a cultural life in that country that continues and flourishes, one that doesn’t have to do with nuclear negotiations.”

Related articles to Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian:
Iranian Roots | Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian – Iranian Artist (Bio)
The Huffington Post | 90-Year-Old Iranian Artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian Gets Her First Comprehensive U.S. Exhibition
The Guardian | Infinite Possibility: Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian

Source: BuzzFeed News | This Iranian Artist Is Making History At The Guggenheim

Interview with US Jazz saxophonist Bob Belden (first American musician to perform in Iran after 35 years)

Before the New York-based multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer Bob Belden brought his band ANIMATION to Tehran, Iran, last month, it had been more than 35 years since American musicians had performed in the Middle Eastern country. Belden and his group performed to a sold-out, ecstatic audience of appreciative fans at Tehran’s Vahdat Auditorium and also got the chance to see parts of the country and meet with local residents.

Here parts of the Interview with the bands lead Bob Belden:

Did you have any resistance or other challenges from either American or Iranian officials?
BB: We never met nor saw any American officials and the Iranians officials we met and worked with were fantastic; a beautiful sense of humor, visionary, erudite and very open about our music. No challenges at any point during our stay in Iran. None! Smooth sailing from day one till we left on day nine, excepting some logistical issues beyond our control (huge traffic jams and the lingering effects of jet lag). Actually the only real challenge we had was eating all of the food that was laid out before us for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The city of Isfahan gave us credit to purchase gifts to take back home.

Where did you perform and what was the venue and the audience like?
BB: We had three gigs, only one with ANIMATION. The first “gig” was at a private school in Isfahan where young kids (ages 6-14) learn classical Iranian music. We listened to them perform and then jammed with them at the end of the informal concert. The second gig was only myself and Pete Clagett on trumpet and we performed at the Azadi Sports Complex in Tehran during the World Greco-Roman Championships. What was significant about that gig was the group we played with: eight Iranian musicians including three women in the group. We performed the traditional Iranian national anthem (“Ey Iran”) but what made this moment special was the inclusion of women at a sporting event in a Muslim country. Never happened before. Our final gig, the gig that was our purpose for being in Iran, was held at the old Tehran Opera House now named Vahdat Hall. A classical opera house by German design, the acoustics and the sound system were perfect. The stage crew was first-rate all the way. Great gear and a fantastic Iranian-American engineer Hamidreza Maleki recorded the event.

Were the Iranian people welcoming to American musicians?
BB: Incredibly welcoming. Everywhere we went the people we met we very happy to see us and then astounded that we were musicians and then euphoric that we played jazz. The word jazz means a lot to people outside the U.S. And we did come in contact with a lot of Iranians from all walks of life. We hung out at a Starbucks in Isfahan and met a lot of younger Iranians and we ended up posing for a lot of photos with those at the cafe. The Starbucks is not official but a personal note to Starbucks in the U.S.: huge market in Iran for your coffee and brand! (I don’t drink coffee but the cafe also had tea!).

There’s a photo of the audience giving the band a standing ovation. What did the people you spoke to there say about the music?
BB: The applause spoke for everyone at the concert. We got a lot of hits on Facebook from Iran and even people from the audience posting photos and sending pictures to the guys in the band. We did not go there to find exacting understanding of what we played (this does not exist in the U.S. either) but to find a common need for expression. Everyone in the audience at the hall just enjoyed the music outright and, most important, the Ministers of Culture and Guidance were in the front row applauding not only our concert but their effort to bring us there. We all made the gig!!

What was your perception of the Iranian people’s understanding of and appreciation for jazz?
BB: There has been a gap of information as to the specific development and nature of jazz in the U.S. since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Mostly the Iranians have been exposed to Europeans as the travel restrictions were not as difficult for musicians from Europe. That is why in Europe what we did is not deemed so important. I can’t speak for an entire country’s understanding of any music so I have no real idea of their appreciation of what anyone in the U.S. calls “jazz.” But it did not matter as the music culture in Iran is very deep and is thousands of years old. So they could relate to us based on pure musicianship, beyond the contextually limited language of jazz.

Did you get a chance to interact with Iranian musicians, and if so, what did they tell you?
BB: We interacted with some kids in Isfahan and also some classical musicians in Tehran. As this was an expeditionary trip we could not meet with musicians en masse. We did play with Iranian musicians at the Azadi Sports Complex. We did meet some Iranian musicians backstage at our concerts with the promise of returning to work with and record with Iranian musicians.

What would you like Americans, many of whom have been taught that Iran is not a U.S.-friendly nation, to know about the country and its people now that you’ve seen it first-hand?
BB: Perception is easy to create. Misperception is hard to break. In the U.S., for the most part since the Iranian Revolution, Iran has been subjected to a political and cultural analysis that is always shone in a negative light. It was as if thousands of years of history were negated to a footnote and the only history we intend to maintain in the U.S. is from 1979 onwards. This myopic view is not based on logic but composed of a systemic ignorance of global culture that is enabled by a weak education system in the U.S. and intense partisan calibrations meant to maintain a dark cloak of intrigue about Iran by people or entities that have agendas not expressed in their public statements. But a country is also made up of people, actual human beings, and this is what is most important for American citizens to understand. At the human level Iranians are the same as Americans. They eat food, they drink water, they have children and send them to schools. The parents fret over their kids just as parents here. People work for a living, they go to the movies, watch TV, ride the subways or buses to get to and from work. Young women scream at rock concerts for their favorite band. The traffic is similar to Los Angeles. English is spoken openly and quite well. Street signs are in Farsi and English. Magazines are in English and there are English newspapers. They have their own Burger Kings (called King Burger!), KFCs and pizza joints mixed with traditional Iranian food. And we ate at a truck stop that was emblazoned with the words FAST FOOD. For jazz musicians the words Truck Stop and Fast Food make you homesick!!

We could not sum up an entire country’s psyche in a week’s experience inside the country. Iran is a glorious and complicated country that lives in many different worlds at the same time, from the ancient to the modern. The people we met and worked with are beautiful people by any cultural definition. Sincere charm, subtle elegance and a very cosmopolitan demeanor were common in many of the people we met. Iran possesses a graceful and pastoral understanding of Islam. What we understood from being in an Islamic country is that if you use common sense and display an open respect for others then there is no problem at all reconciling the two views.

Source: Jazz Times | Bringing cultures together in peace

Iran’s Chaharmahal & Bakhtiari Province: Helen Protected Area

Helen Protected Area is located in the central Zagros Mountains, in Chahar Mahal and Bakhtiari Province. With approximately 30,000 hectares of oak trees, the area is home to a wide variety of species, including brown bears, leopards, wildcats and eagles.

This region derives its name from Helen’s Mountain, a 3,136m mountain peak named in honor of Helen Jeffreys Bakhtiar of Boise, Idaho, in commemoration of her work as a public health nurse in Iran in the 1950’s. She was a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy and traveled to Iran to serve as a public health nurse as part of President Truman’s Point Four Program. The rural improvement project sent American experts in agriculture, health and education to work in villages in less-developed countries.

Related articles:
Payvand News of Iran | Mountain in Iran Named for American Nurse,
NPR | A Monument to an American’s Selflessness in Iran

Sources: IRNA | Photos, Tishineh | Helen Protected Area (in Persian), Iranian.com | Helen’s Mountain

5th International Urban Film Festival underway in Tehran, Iran

Tehran, Iran - 5th International Urban Film Festival 1 - PosterIran’s 5th International Urban Film Festival is running from May 24 to June 2 in eleven movie theaters across Tehran.

More than 360 productions will take part in this year’s national and international competition sections, presenting short and feature-length films, as well as documentaries and animations from Iran, China, Egypt, the US, Britain, Palestine, Switzerland, Italy, Serbia and other countries.

The festival is also holding filmmaking, cinematography and scriptwriting workshops for cinema enthusiasts of all ages.

International cineastes Krzysztof Zanussi, Dina Iordanova, Deborah Young and Caroline Otto are scheduled to hold several master classes at the Mellat Cinema Complex during the 5th International Urban Film Festival.

Zanussi, 76, is a renowned Polish filmmaker and screenwriter. Zanussi, whose work was noticed during his activities in the amateur film movement in the 1950s and 1960s, is also a professor at the Silesian University in Katowice.

Iordanova, a professor of film studies at University of St Andrews, focuses on transnational cinema, global film industries and film festivals, as well as on Eastern European and Balkan cinema.

American film critic Young is an editor of the Hollywood Reporter, and Film Comment Magazine. Based in Rome, Italy, she has reviewed films from around the world since the 1990’s, when she was appointed Rome bureau chief for Variety.

Active as a screenwriter and director Otto is a member of the Federation of Scriptwriters in Europe (FSE). She was also the head of the script funding commission of the German film board during 2009-2013.

Sources: Press TV | News, Tehran Times | News

Video: Awarded Iranian American Chef Ariana Bundy’s beautiful introduction to Persian cuisine on TV at Nat Geo People on May 8th

Iranian American Chef Ariana Bundy TV Show in NAT GEO People Ariana's Persian Kitchen 2Ariana Bundy, an award winning Iranian-American chef and cookbook author of ‘Pomegranates & Roses’, visits the vast and fascinating country of Iran to re-discover her heritage. From the lush green mountains of the Caspian sea, to the golden deserts of Yazd, Ariana eats her way through Persian delicacies in Bazaars, pastry shops, restaurants, and people’s homes.

Cooking alongside local women in palatial homes, countryside and in villages. She meets chefs, bazaar traders, farmers, food bloggers and home cooks and recreates the recipes she picks up along the way in her home in Dubai, by using common ingredients and short cuts to create exotic feasts.

About Ariana Bundy
TV Chef and cookbook author Ariana Bundy was brought up in New York, London, Switzerland and Paris. She inherited her love of food and cooking from her grandparents – who grew cherries, plums, apricots, apples, wheat and barley, bred sheep and goats for dairy, and had beautiful vineyards producing prized grapes – and from her father, who owned the first fine-dining French restaurant in Iran and later in Beverly Hills.

Ariana was Head Pastry Chef for the Mondrian Hotel in LA. Graduate of Le Cordon Bleu and Le Notre in Paris, she trained at Fauchon Patisserie and attended the European Business School in London. She has cooked for celebrities such as Tom Hanks, Nicole Kidman, President Clinton, Brad Pitt and Madonna to name a few.

 

Sources: Payvand News of Iran, Tehran Times

UCLA Celebration of Iranian Cinema 2015

UCLA Celebration of Iranian Cinema 2015The UCLA Film and Television Archive is pleased to once again explore the diverse currents of Iranian cinema with its annual series highlighting recent and classic films from Iran and the Iranian diaspora.

The Program “UCLA Celebration of Iranian Cinema”, funded by the Farhang Foundation, will take place from April 25, 2015 to May 16, 2015 at the Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood Village, Los Angeles, USA.

Film directors Rakhshan Banietemad (4/25), Shahram Mokri (4/26), Kamran Heidari (4/27), Sepideh Farsi (5/8), Zhinous Pedram (5/10) and Amir Badie (5/16) will be attending in-person to discuss their work.

In the wake of Asghar Farhadi’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar win for A Separation in 2011, the depth and breadth of Iranian cinema today continues to amaze even as the challenges faced by its filmmakers remain of concern.

While established masters continue to make their unique voices heard, including writer-director Rakhshan Banietemad, whose award-winning Tales opens this year’s series, newer filmmakers continue to captivate.  Farhadi’s influence can be felt in a number of outstanding, tightly-wound contemporary dramas by emerging directors (Melbourne, I’m Not Angry), while others are charting radically different paths visually and narratively (Fish & Cat, 316).

Screening schedule:

Saturday, April 25
Bani-E'temad, Rakhshan - Film 2014 - Tales (Ghesse-ha)TALES (Ghesse-ha) / 7:30 PM /
In person: Rakhshan Bani-Etemad (DIR)
Iran, 2014 / 91 min. / DIR: Rakhshan Banietemad /
CAST: Fatemeh Motamed Aria, Peyman Moaadi, Baran Kosari

Winner of the Best Screenplay award in Venice, writer, writer-director Rakhshan Banietemad’s return to fiction filmmaking is a tour-de-force portrait of a people and a society at the breaking point.

Sunday, April 26
Dormishian, Reza - Film 2014 - I'm not angry (Asabani nistam!)I’M NOT ANGRY (Asabani nistam!) / 3:00 PM

Iran, 2014 / 110 min. / DIR: Reza Dormishian /
CAST: Baran Kosari, Navid Mohammadzadeh, Reza Behoudi

Director Reza Dormishian’s second feature bluntly depicts the seething frustrations of a generation through the emotional and personal struggles of a student activist trying to get his life on track.

Mokri, Shahram - Film 2013 - Fish & Cat (Mahi va gorbeh)FISH & CAT (Mahi va gorbeh) / 7:00 PM /
In person: Shahram Mokri (DIR)
Iran, 2013 / 134 min. / DIR: Shahram Mokri /
CAST: Babak Karimi, Saeed Ebrahimifar, Siavash Cheraghipoor

With Fish & Cat, writer-director Shahram Mokri emerges as an original new voice in Iranian cinema, blending bravura technical skills with a boldly absurdist, apocalyptic vision.

Monday, April 27
Heidari, Kamran - Film 2012 - My name is Negahdar Jamali and I make westerns - PosterMY NAME IS NEGAHDAR JAMALI AND I MAKE WESTERNS / 7:30 PM /
In person: Kamran Heidari (DIR)

Iran, 2013 / 65 min. / DIR: Kamran Heidari / CAST: Negahdar Jamali

Utterly unexpected and thoroughly charming, director Kamran Heidari’s debut documentary about an amateur filmmaker in southwestern Iran explodes preconceived notions and illuminates the universal power of cinema.

Friday, May 1
Mirkarimi, Reza - Film 2014 - Today (Emrouz) 2TODAY (Emrouz) / 7:30 PM
Iran, 2014 / 88 min. / DIR: Reza Mirkarimi /
CAST: Parviz Parastui, Soheila Golestani, Shabnam Moghadami

Iran’s official submission for Oscar consideration, writer-director Reza Mirkarimi’s tense, powerful drama unfolds over a single day after a cab driver allows himself to be drawn into the personal crisis of a woman who jumps into his backseat.

Saturday, May 2
Attaran, Reza - Film 2014 - Red Carpet (Farshe Ghermez)RED CARPET (Farshe Ghermez) / 7:30 PM
Iran, 2014 / 80 min. / DIR: Reza Attaran /
CAST: Reza Attaran, Marc Ansari, Susan Parvar

One of Iran’s most famous comedians, Reza Attaran, takes on Hollywood and the international media in this hilarious but gentle satire.


Wednesday, May 6

Yazdanian, Safi - Film 2014 - What's the time in your world (Dar donyaye to sa’at chand ast) - Poster 2WHAT’S THE TIME IN YOUR WORLD? (Dar donyaye to sa’at chand ast?) / 7:30 PM
Iran, 2014 / 101 min. / DIR: Safi Yazdanian / CAST: Leila Hatami, Ali Mosaffa, Ebrahim Zamir

Leila Hatami stars as Goli, a woman who returns to her hometown after decades living abroad to find a mysterious guide waiting to take her on a journey of self-discovery suffused with romantic melancholy.

Friday, May 8
Farsi, Sepideh - Film 2014 - Red Rose - PosterRED ROSE / 7:30 PM / In person: Sepideh Farsi (DIR)
France/Greece/Iran, 2014 / 87 min. / DIR: Sepideh Farsi / CAST: Mina Kavani, Vassilis Koukalani

Writer-director Sepideh Farsi ingeniously employs a single setting to dramatize the vicissitudes of political idealism in intimate and deeply personal ways amid the explosive passions of the Green Revolution.

Sunday, May 10
Haghani, Payman - Film 2014 - 316 - Poster316 / 7:00 PM
Iran, 2014 / 72 min. / DIR: Payman Haghani / CAST: Sara Vazirzadeh (narrator)

Writer-director Payman Haghani reflects on recent Iranian experience through one woman’s singular passion for shoes with a film as beguiling as it is moving.

Preceded by:
PINK NAIL POLISH / In person: Zhinous Pedram (DIR)

Iran, 2014 / 6 min. / DIR: Zhinous Pedram

Slowly, cautiously, a young girl makes her way out into the world in director Zhinous Pedram’s beautifully shot paean to girlhood.

Friday, May 15
Javidi, Nima - Film 2014 - MelbourneMELBOURNE / 7:30 PM
Iran, 2014 / 91 min. / DIR: Nima Javidi / CAST: Payman Maadi, Negar Javaherian, Mani Haghighi

Writer-director Nima Javidi’s remarkable debut feature is one of the most nerve-wracking, nail-biting, what-would-you-do ethical thrillers in recent memory.

Saturday, May 16
Shahid Saless, Sohrab - Film 1974 - Still life (Tabiate bijan) - PosterSTILL LIFE (Tabiate bijan) / 7:30 PM
Iran, 1974 / 93 min. / DIR: Sohrab Shahid Saless / CAST: Zadour Bonyadi, Mohammed Kani, Hibibollah Safarian

Winner of the Silver Bear at Berlin in 1974, Still Life tells the story of an elderly railroad employee forced into retirement, and confirmed Sohrab Shahid Saless as a “leading visionary of his generation.”

Preceded by:
MOHSEN BADIE: ARTISAN OF CINEMA / In person: Amir Badie

Iran, 2009 / 45 min. / DIR: Aziz Saati / CAST: Naser Malek Motiei, Bahman Farmanara, Houshang Kavoosi

This heartfelt tribute pays homage to Iranian cinema pioneer Mohsen Badie, founder of what film scholar Hamid Naficy described as “perhaps the best film lab in Iran.”

Sources: UCLA Film and Television Archive | UCLA Celebration of Iranian Cinema, Farhang Foundation

Iranian film “My Name Is Negahdar Jamali And I Make Westerns” by Kamran Heidari

“My name is John Ford and I make westerns” this is how John Ford introduced himself at the American Film Directors’ Association gathering. Negahdar Jamali, an Iranian from Shiraz introduced himself the same way when I first met him without knowing John Ford that well.

“MY NAME IS NEGAHDAR JAMALI AND I MAKE WESTERNS” he introduced himself with self-confidence and without any weakness in his statement; not in the Monument Valley or in the Grand Canyon but in Shiraz and the deserts surrounding the city. He has been making Western films continuously for the past 35 years under hard conditions, and this film is about the struggle with his family, friends and society to make what he likes the most in his life “Western Movies”.

While “My Name is Negahdar…” might begin as an oddity it soon evolves into a moving tribute to a man who will let nothing separate him from his art. “I almost fell into the trap of making a social documentary but then I realised that with this film cinema is the only thing that matters,” said Heidari.

“It is about a man and his love for cinema and for making cinema. His love for cinema is just so pure. He doesn’t want to make money out of them, he just wants to make these films and he puts everything he has into it,” he said. “It’s inspiring and a lot more honest to just tell his story.”

My Name Is Negahdar Jamali And I Make Westerns (trailer):

Director: Kamran Heidari
Cast: Negahdar Jamali
Movie type: Documentary
Photography: Kamran Heidari
Editor: Bahman Kiarostami
Sound recorder: Sasan Kaveh
Sound mix: Kamyar Behbahani, Farshid Zarmehr
Music selection: Ennio Morricone, Hamid Saeed
Production Manager: Tahereh Alavizadeh
Producer: Mehrdad Monavarian
Color, SD-Video, 16:9, 65 min, 2012, IRAN

Sources: Iranian Film Festival in Germany, The Daily Star Lebanon, My name is Negahdar Jamali and I make westerns (Photos), Kamran Heidari Official Site | Films

Winners of 2015 Farhang Short Film Festival in Los Angeles, California

Maryam Farahzadi’s The Role of Each Fret (Iran) was this year’s winning short film and awarded the top prize of $10,000. Commotion (Osyan) (Canada) by KAJART was the runner up and recipient of the $5,000 award. Rounding out the top three was Ali Azimi’s & Arash Ashtiani’s Prelude (Pishdaramad) (UK), which nabbed the $3,000 award.

Nearly 100 short film were submitted this year, representing a diverse range of genres and styles and hailing from Canada, Germany, Iran, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

“We could not be more pleased with the results of this year’s film festival,” said Mark Amin, Farhang Foundation board member and Film Festival Committee chair. “The top three submissions came to us from various corners of the world, each demonstrating a unique talent for expressing a very keen understanding of Iranian culture. We congratulate the winning filmmakers and thank our panel of jurors for their dedicated service.”

The 2015 festival jury included Hassan Ildari, an assistant professor at Emerson College; Beejan Land, an actor and award winning playwright; Shaeda Moghaddam, President of Triangle Road Entertainment; Shaun Toub, a veteran actor appearing in hit films including Bad Boys, Iron Man, and the Oscar-winning film Crash; and Mark Amin, Chairman and CEO of Sobini Films and Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Farhang Foundation.

Since inception in 2009, the Farhang Short Film Festival has called on filmmakers from all backgrounds and walks of life to submit short films that explore, capture, or celebrate some aspect of Iranian culture.

Maryam FarahzadiMaryam Farahzadi
Born in 1990, Maryam holds a BFA in graphic design from Faculty of Fine Arts (University of Tehran). She has been working as an animator and character designer in “Pouya Negar” animation studio for 5 years and has taken part in different animation projects for Iranian national TV in addition to some personal projects.

The role of each fret by Maryam Farahzadi (1st prize):

 

KajartKAJART
Kajart is a creative production studio based in Toronto, Canada. Formed by four friends (Hajar Moradi, Kajeh Mehrizi, Taravat Khalili, Vahid Fazel) whom share a similar taste of arts. One of our prominent works besides art & design is to make animation films. We love and enjoy giving life to objects and materials, and we always look for a new challenge in technique, concept and style.

Commotion (Osyan) by Kajart (2nd prize):

 

Ashtiani, ArashArash Ashtiani
Born on August 1983 in Tehran, Iran. He attended script writing classes of Nasser Taghvaei, an acclaimed Iranian film director/writer, followed later by participating in a workshop given by Abbass Kiarostami and made his first short film during that time. He later moved to London to study Filmmaking at London Film School. “Only sound Remains” his graduation film was nominated for a BAFTA award along number of other nominations. He has made short films, documentaries and music videos since his graduation and is currently writing his first feature script.

Azimi, AliAli Azimi
Leader of the band “Ali Azimi and the Needs”. An Iranian rock and alternative band with all British musicians. He also was the singer-songwriter of the band Radio Tehran which became noticed after their first album 88, released in the Persian year 1388. Born and raised in Tehran, Iran. Ali Azimi began his interest in music at a young age. Coming from a musical family, he self learned to play the Piano and studied classical guitar with Kazem Moazen. Ali got his bachelors in engineering at Tehran University and Masters in United Kingdom in the same field.

Prelude (Pishdaramad) by Ali Azimi & Arash Ashtiani (3rd prize):

About Farhang Foundation
Farhang Foundation is a non-religious, non-political and not-for-profit foundation established in 2008 to celebrate and promote Iranian art and culture for the benefit of the community at large. The foundation supports a broad range of academic activities in Southern California by funding university programs, publications and conferences. The foundation also supports diverse cultural programs such as the celebration of Nowruz and Mehregan, theater, dance performances, film screenings and poetry reading in Southern California. And, in cooperation with various cultural and academic institutions, Farhang Foundation funds major programs and exhibitions about Iran and its culture.

Source: Farhang Foundation

Video: Impressions of US musician Bob Belden on Iran

The audience members in Tehran’s Vahdat concert hall rose from their seats, clapping wildly as the frontman Bob Belden, a fun-loving New Yorker with a predilection for loud shirts, rested his soprano saxophone on a nearby stand.

“We love you Bob!” someone shouted in English from the balcony after Mr. Belden, 58, finished his third song of the night. A Grammy Award-winning producer, composer and jazz performer, he smiled broadly. “It is an utter honor to be here in Iran,” Mr. Belden said, drawing even more cheers.

The concert last Friday was the first by an American musician in Iran since the 1979 revolution.

View Bob’s impressions on Video (Playlist: 4 short videos – keep on watching):

Officials from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance sat in the front row, nodding their heads to renditions of tunes by Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and Mr. Belden’s own compositions. The Iranians who filled the 1,200-seat theater clapped and cheered. They recorded video with their mobile phones of Mr. Belden and his four bandmates, who did little to suppress their own enthusiasm, waving, smiling and taking their own pictures of the audience.

The Tehran gig was the end of a short, wild tour through a country that officially considers the United States its enemy, but where people go out of their way to please guests, especially when they are American.

“This guy comes up to me, an Iranian; asks me where I’m from. I say, ‘America!’ He says, ‘I love you!’ ”

Mr. Belden said before Friday’s concert. “I tell him I’m a jazz musician. He says, ‘I love jazz!’ ”. “Everybody is nice to us here,” he added.

Source: The New York Times | Rebirth of the cool: American music makes a return to Iran

Interview with Thomas Erdbrink a New York Times Journalist working in Iran

Erdbrink, Thomas and van Broekhoven, Roel - Onze Man in Teheran

Thomas Erdbrink and Roel van Broekhoven in Iran

Thomas Erdbrink and Roel van Broekhoven, the director of the series on the Dutch television channel VPRO, answered some of your questions about living and reporting in Iran.

Q. What do you think Americans and Iranians would be most surprised to learn about each other if we could sit down for dinner in each other’s homes?
A. For starters, the Americans would learn that crisp rice from the bottom of the pot in which it is cooked is a delicacy here. In fact, Iranians love it so much that whole families fight over it during lunch, the main meal of the day in Iran.

Around the dinner table it’s all about family in Iran. Relatives come together often, especially these weeks, as Iranians celebrate their new year, which started on March 21. If they were to visit America, they’d expect food courts in shopping malls. These have also sprouted up in Tehran and other cities.

I guess what they’d learn is that, across the world, families are really not that different. They all like to sit down together, eat and talk. — Thomas Erdbrink

Q. Is there a Sunni population there or other minorities? How are they treated?
A. My mother-in-law, who taught me to speak Persian, is an Iranian Kurd. She is a proud and strong woman, loves Iranian Kurdistan just as much as she loves Iran. Kurds are Sunni, but not like Arab Sunnis. Her husband is Shia. They have been happily married for almost 38 years.

Now while there are issues for religious minorities, such as Christians, Zoroastrians and Jews, they are in much better positions compared with minorities in other countries in the region.

In Iran, those minorities have their own members of Parliament and are granted their places of worship. There are dozens of synagogues in Tehran, and thousands of Jews here — the most in the region after Israel. — T.E.

Q. How does an average Iranian feel about Jews and Israel?
A. Iran’s leaders often call for the end of Israel, calling the country a “tumor” that needs to be removed. They are against Zionism, the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in Israel. But Iran’s leaders almost never speak out against Jews.

Why would they, as Iran is home to the largest population of Jews in the Middle East after Israel? Where Jews have left most other countries, thousands have remained in Iran, where they are not persecuted. Ordinary Iranians have no specific ideas about Jews, though some Iranians might have the same prejudice you would hear elsewhere in the world.
Continue reading the main story

The policies of Israel are, however, widely despised here. Many Iranians might not feel drawn to Arab issues, but last summer’s war in Gaza turned many moderate Iranians against Israel. The speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Congress also made many Iranians angry, as they heard him trying to undermine the nuclear deal that so many people here are hoping will happen. — T.E.

Q. You try to bring perspective in our view about Iran. How do Iranians look at our Western society? Is there any perspective, despite the government-controlled media?
A. Over the past decade, riding a wave of technological changes such as the wider availability of the Internet and satellite television, and inexpensive travel, Iranians have become more in tune with the world. Many Iranians in the cities are up-to-date on the news, the latest music and trends. Generally, Iranians know that in the West, contrary to what many here believed in the past, the streets are not paved with gold. Still, state television is the largest medium in the country and has the widest reach. Its broadcasts are often anti-Western and highly ideological. — T.E.

Q. Have these reports been vetted/censored in any way by the Iranian authorities?
A. No, there was no censorship, nor were the films vetted or seen before they were first broadcast on Dutch television.

We worked with a local production company. They organized permission for us to visit the places and people we were interested in. Sometimes they told us some locations or people they didn’t want us to come and film, or it was impossible to visit.

On the whole, we were pretty free to film whatever we wanted. There was no demand to see what we did film, or to show them the edited material in advance. Of course, Thomas has been living there long enough to judge what stories we could tell. — Roel van Broekhoven

Q. Are you free to discuss anything you want with friends and acquaintances? Do they share their views on politics, government, society, religion freely with you, or is there a culture of fear?
A. Step into a shared taxi here in Tehran and your fellow passengers will start talking about everything, from the weather to the effect of the sanctions to their opinion of the president. People talk very freely here, in small groups. There is no culture of fear. But that definitely doesn’t mean that everything can be said, all the time, not only politically, also culturally. — T.E.

Q. Is there a start-up or tech community in Tehran? What are entrepreneurs like?
A. Yes. There is the Tehran start-up weekend, which brings together tech entrepreneurs. Iran has a large number of highly educated engineers, some of whom are doing quite well in tech. Iran’s Amazon is called Digikala. There is Fidelio, a restaurant guide, and many more. — T.E.

Q. Can Iranians have Gmail accounts? Can artists do business w/Americans?
A. Google still blocks its business email accounts in Iran, as part of American-imposed sanctions. The answer to this question is written on such an account, which I can only access using software that makes it look as if I — an employee of an American news organization — am actually online in San Jose, Calif. For artists, there are no restrictions, but credit cards are blocked under U.S. sanctions, as are international bank transfers. — T.E.

Sources: New York Times, Nrc.nl, Image: VPRO | Programmas | Onze Man in Teheran

Awarded film “13” by Iranian director Hooman Seyedi will be screened on Tiburon International Film Festival in California, USA

Struggling to deal with his parent’s divorce and constant abuse at school, thirteen-year-old Behmani lashes out. He finds solace in a group of older street kids. They treat him as an adult and as one of their own. He soon gets in over his head when he becomes entangled in their own complex lives. Not truly understanding the consequences of his involvement within the group and their affiliates, Behmani finds himself stuck amid a murder. The film is a burst of youthful rage and an indictment of modern adolescence.

13 (Sizdah) / Dir: Hooman Seyedi / 2014 / Iran / Drama / 90 min
Cast: Amir Jafari, Azadeh Samdi, Rima Raminfar, Amir Jadidi, Navid Mohammadzadeh, Vishka Asayesh, Yasna Mirtahmasb

Venue: Tiburon Playhouse Theater, 40 Main Street
Showtime: Saturday, April 11, 2015 @ 08:30 PM

Awards
– 2014 Busan International Film Festival: New Currents Award
– 2014 Warsaw International Film Festival: NETPAC Award

About director Hooman Seyyedi
Born in 1980 in Rasht, Hooman Seyedi holds diploma in Graphics. He has made few short films and tele-movies. 13 is his debut feature film.

Sources: Payvand News of Iran, Tiburon Film Festival

Meet Our Man in Tehran : Dutch New York Times Journalist in Iran

Erdbrink, Thomas - www.lindanieuws.nl (image)Dossier: Thomas Erdbrink
Date of birth: Jan. 27, 1976
Hometown: Leiderdorp, Netherlands
Lives: Tehran
Education: B.A. in journalism, Hogeschool of Utrecht
Employment: Tehran bureau chief, The New York Times

Life Experience: I moved to Iran in 2002 and I’ve been married since 2003 to Newsha Tavakolian, a well-known Iranian photographer and artist. In 2008, I became the bureau chief for The Washington Post, where I was succeeded in 2012 by Jason Rezaian, my colleague who has been jailed without charge since July.

When I tell people that I have lived in Iran for 13 years, they’re often shocked. How, they ask, can one live in a country where angry mobs roam the streets denouncing Westerners, burning flags and shouting “Death to America”? Are you not afraid?

No. I am not.

Iran is more modern, livable and friendly than some portrayals would have you believe. The country’s modernity goes beyond symbols, such as the number of skyscrapers in Tehran, or the fact that Porsche sells more cars here than anywhere else in the Middle East.

Dutch New York Times Journalist Thomas Erdbrink - Iranian photo journalist Newsha Tavakolian

Dutch New York Times Journalist Thomas Erdbrink – Iranian photo journalist Newsha Tavakolian

In the time I’ve been living and working here, Iranian society, under the influence of the Internet, satellite television and inexpensive transportation, has undergone fundamental changes: Iran became an urban country, with 70 percent of its people living in or near cities. Illiteracy has been almost wiped out. More than 60 percent of university students are women. More than 150,000 highly educated Iranians leave the country each year. The Internet, though censored, is widely available, as is software to get around those censors.

I live here with my wife and our cat in a three-bedroom apartment in a 26-floor residential building, constructed before the 1979 revolution by an American company. Newsha has been my guide to this complex society, and she continues to be my most important critic. I have made many Iranian friends and I learned to speak Persian, which makes it easy for me to get around in this city of 12 million. And though I am married to an Iranian woman, I am a Dutch citizen and my visa is good for only six months at a time.

I am an accepted foreigner, but I am a lonely foreigner, too. Iran is a very isolated country and there are only a handful of Westerners living here.

After four years of requests to the Ministry of Islamic Guidance and Culture, the same office that allows me to work here as a correspondent, I received a special permit to film for five weeks a documentary series with the Dutch director Roel van Broekhoven for the VPRO network in the Netherlands. The reaction to the series in the Netherlands, a small, liberal European country whose citizens enjoy looking beyond its borders, was overwhelmingly positive.

Iranians are used to foreign media portraying their country as sinister — from the movie based on Betty Mahmoudi’s book “Not Without My Daughter” after the 1979 revolution, to Ben Affleck’s Academy Award-winning film “Argo.” People here — especially those in power — would rather showcase the country’s natural beauty, ancient culture, hospitality and great food.

“Why doesn’t the West understand how nice we are?” one Iranian official asked me. “If only they see our beauties they will love Iran.”

Iran has some very impressive sights, but for me the real attraction is its people. You will meet some of them in this series as we examine together complicated issues that illustrate how Iran is slowly changing.

Related article: The other Iran | Newsha Tavakolian – Iranian photojournalist

Sources: The New York Times | Meet our man in Tehran, Thomas Erdbrink’s Photo: Linda.

“Seekers of Light” opera performed at Boston museum by joint Israeli-Iranian band

BOSTON — Surrounded by a rotating crowd of 2,200 onlookers in a museum courtyard, Israeli and Iranian musicians premiered scenes from “Seekers of Light,” an opera written by Boston-based Matti Kovler.

[…]

The local pool of Israeli and Iranian talent, combined with an invitation to stage a musical installation at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston’s first Hanukkah festival, proved irresistible to Kovler, who decided to premiere seven scenes from “Seekers.” […]

According to the composer, the full opera will premiere in 2017 at a theater under construction in Prague, designed in part with “Seekers” in mind. For this week’s teaser performance, Kovler conducted and accompanied fourteen musicians playing classical and Persian instruments, with most vocals in Hebrew and Persian.

Playing the lead role of “Sabbatai’s soul” was Iranian musician and Berklee student Parham Haghighi, who wore a full-length white robe and burgundy scarf and sash. […]

A long way from his original home, Haghighi chanted Hebrew while surrounded by Jewish families at an American Hanukkah celebration — something Kovler called “a miracle in itself.”

“Some of the musicians arrived from Iran just two months ago and speak just a few words of English,” said Kovler. “The existence of this ensemble is very much in the spirit of Hanukkah and the freedom to seek out light in one’s own way,” he said.

30th Fajr International Music Festival in Iran – Photo gallery (part 2)

Some of the performers shown in the photo gallery below were covered earlier in this blog. To get some back ground and more photos or videos, please click:
https://theotheriran.com/tag/music/

Click on a photo to open in original size, and navigate through the gallery.

Sources:
IRNA| Photos 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,
ISNA | Photos 1, 2, 3
Tasnim News | Photos 1, 2

US American saxophonist and Grammy Award winner Bob Belden: “I will never forget Iran”

American saxophonist Bob Belden, who gave performances with his band Animation in Tehran, says he will never forget Iran.

Trumpeter Pete Clagett, keyboardist Roberto Verastegui, drummer Matt Young, and bassist Jair-Rohm Parker Wells are other members of ‘Animation’ who accompanied Belden in the Tehran performances.

In his short speech before the concert, he expressed his happiness to have been visiting Iran, adding that he and his companions found love and happiness in the presence of the Iranian audience. The musician also referred to their trips to the historical cities of Isfahan and Shiraz and added that they were delighted to see the cities and meet their good people.

In addition, Belden said that during their trips, they met several young Iranian musicians who were very talented. He asserted that he liked Iran and its people very much and especially enjoyed Persian kebab.

He called music the common language among all nations and said that he has found many friends through music in different countries. His speech was followed by performances of several pieces, some of which were from his Grammy nominee compositions.

Speaking of his interest in visiting Iran again, he said that he would download their performance in Tehran on internet sites to let other people watch and see where the concert was performed.

The 30th edition of Fajr International Music Festival ran from February 13 to 20 in different venues across the Iranian capital Tehran.

About Bob Belden:
James Robert Belden (born October 31, 1956) is an American saxophonist, arranger, composer, bandleader and producer. He is noted for his Grammy Award winning jazz orchestral recording titled The Black Dahlia. He is also a past head of A & R for Blue Note Records.

Sources: Payvand News of Iran, Wikipedia | Bob Belden

Works by three US American painters exhibited at Tehran’s Ovissi gallery

"Winter Opera" by Fernando DeOliveira

“Winter Opera” by Fernando DeOliveira

An exhibition displaying works by three U.S. abstract painters are currently underway at Tehran’s Ovissi Gallery. Thirteen works by Sheila Rice, Fernando DeOliveira and Brian Xavier will be on display until December 17 at the exhibit.

“My work is about the flow of joy and consciousness that animates my inner world,” DeOliveira wrote in a catalogue for his exhibition, which was held at the Alternative Art Space in Boston from December 2 to 7.

“I am an emotional person who believes that we can meet through art, and my art attempts to share my emotions and perceptions with each viewer in a very personal, intimate way,” he added.

Ovissi Gallery is located at 7 Azar Alley, Nateq-Nuri St., Gol-Nabi St., Pasdaran Ave.

The works are scheduled to another exhibition, which will open at Tehran’s Sheis Gallery on December 18.

The exhibition will run for five days at the gallery, which can be found at 10 Shirzad Alley, near Daneshju Park, Vali-e Asr Ave.

Source: Payvand News of Iran

International Conference on Shakespeare Studies held in Tehran, Iran

Prof. Stephen Greenblatt: “I never thought that Shakespeare would become my magic carpet to the land of Persia”

The First International Conference on Shakespeare Studies was held on November 26 to 27, 2014 in Iran.

The conference, organized by the Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures from the University of Tehran, explored themes such as ‘Shakespeare and Political Discourse’, ‘Shakespeare under the Iranian Eye’, ‘Shakespeare and Adaptation’, ‘Radical Shakespeare’, ‘Shakespeare and Mysticism’ and ‘Shakespeare and Popular Culture’.

Tehran, Iran - University of Tehran, Conference on Shakespeare Studies 2014 - 00Professor Stephen Greenblatt took part in the conference and delivered a keynote speak focused on Shakespeare and the human condition on November 26. He is one of the world’s most celebrated Shakespearean scholars and best known for Shakespeare biography titled Will in the World: How Shakespeare became Shakespeare, which was on the New York Times Best Seller List for nine weeks. In 2012 he won the Pulitzer Prize for his book, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern.

“I never thought that Shakespeare would become my magic carpet to the land of Persia” said Harvard scholar Prof. Greenblatt when he expressed his enthusiasm for Iran and Persian cultural and historical heritage during the conference.

Prof. Mark Burnett from Queen’s University in Belfast, was another keynote speaker whose discussion focused on cinematic representations of Shakespeare in Iran. He talked about an Iranian adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet entitled Doubt (Tardid), a 2009 Iranian Crystal Simorgh-winning film directed by Varuzh Karim Masihi.

Iranian scholar Hossein Elahi Ghomshei, author and lecturer on literature, art and mysticism, also spoke at the conference.

The event was organized by Dr. Ismail Salami and Dr. Maryam Soltan Beyad, professors at the University of Tehran.

Source: Iran Front Page

Iran-USA Simultaneous Art Installation: A Portal Between Tehran and New York City

Shared Studios is launching the first public installation of Amar Bakshi’s Shared Studio project “A Portal BetweenTehran & NYC: Open for Conversation” by conversing through a live audio-visual connection with an individual in Tehran.

Portals are shipping containers equipped with specialized communications technology. Individuals enter one at a time and converse with a person in the other location as if they were in the same room. Simultaneous text translation is available. This first pairing unites the Lu Magnus Gallery in NYC and the M-40 Studio in Tehran.

OPEN FOR CONVERSATION
DECEMBER 5 – 19, 2014
Special Open Hours: 7:30A – 1:30P, Mon – Sun
LU MAGNUS GALLERY and M-40 STUDIO TEHRAN

Each individual is invited to enter a Portal and converse with whoever happens to be in the Tehran location, or with someone in particular upon advance request. To schedule your visit, please visit SHAREDSTUDIOS.SCHEDULISTA.COM

Powerful new technologies allow us to connect across boundaries as never before; yet we too often use them to cocoon ourselves in our own cultural, political, or ideological communities. Portals puncture hardened stereotypes of the other by facilitating one-on-one encounters. They serve as a catalyst for conversation between communities that would not typically engage with one another due to language barriers, technological limitations and hardened stereotypes of the other meeting people whom they only hear about unidirectionally in the news.

Visit the gallery for special Q&A sessions with the artist and the following New York guests:

Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld (Fri Dec 5, 1:00pm-2:00pm)
Yale Law professors and bestselling authors Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld. Chua’s books include Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and World on Fire. Rubenfeld’s books include The Death Instinct and Freedom and Time.

Jonah Bokaer & James Koroni (Sat Dec 6, 1:30pm-2:30pm)
Jonah & James perform a curated dance live in the New York space, streamed live to Tehran.

Fareed Zakaria (Mon Dec 8, 10:30am-11:30am)
CNN host, Atlantic Monthly writer and bestselling author of The Post-American World and The Future of Freedom

Morgan Spurlock (Wed Dec 10, 10:00am-11:00am)
Documentary filmmaker whose titles include Supersize Me and The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.

Tania Bruguera (Thu Dec 11, 1:30pm-2:30pm)
Tania Bruguera is a Cuban installation and performance artist.

Rob Storr (Fri Dec 12, 9:00am-10:30am)
Robert Storr is the Dean of the Yale School of Art. Formerly, he was Senior Curator at the Museum of Modern Art.

Mohsen Namjoo (Sat Dec 13, 1:30pm-2:30pm)
Mohsen Namjoo is an Iranian artist, songwriter, singer, music scholar and setar (traditional Persian lute) player based in California.

Nicky Nodjoumi (Sun Dec 14 – Dec 15, 11:30pm)
Nicky Nodjoumi’s works are conceived of as theatrical stages, where compositions of figures both serious and ridiculous, in the words of Phong Bui, “house meanings without irony, narratives without stories, humor without morality, above all creating a space that heightens the awareness of old and new history.”

Keller Easterling (Wed Dec 17, 9:00am-10:15am)
Architect, professor and author of books including Extrastatecraft: the Power of Infrastructure Space and Enduring Innocence: Global Architecture and Its Political Masquerades.

Sources: Shared Studios, Lu Magnus Gallery, Spacesmith

 

Business Insider – Jewish Australian writer Ben Winsor about visiting Iran

There's a lot to see in Tehran, but make sure you get out to see the Darband waterfalls and the nearby ski resorts, all popular with the locals.

There’s a lot to see in Tehran, but make sure you get out to see the Darband waterfalls and the nearby ski resorts, all popular with the locals.

While Iran is seen by some in the West as a country full of crazy fundamentalists hell-bent on America’s nuclear destruction, the reality you’ll see inside the country couldn’t be further from the truth.

The fact is, the majority of the Iranian public love Westerners — Americans in particular — making Iran one of the safest countries on our list even for female travelers. Opinion polls show the majority of Iranians hold a favorable opinion of Americans, making Iran second only to Israel as the most supportive population in the Middle East.

The Azadi tower (freedom tower) is an impressive gateway to the city, built to symbolize 2,500 years of Persian culture.

The Azadi tower (freedom tower) is an impressive gateway to the city, built to symbolize 2,500 years of Persian culture.To travel as a Westerner is to be routinely stopped on the street and welcomed by curious and generous Iranians. When I was there last summer I was constantly offered with cold drinks, invited to parties, and given free tours by locals.

 

There is a ton to see there: cheap ski resorts in the Alborz mountains north of Tehran, ancient clay-baked mosques in Kashan, the stunning central square of Isfahan, the Tatooine-like ruins of Na’in, and the ancient ruins of Persepolis near Shiraz.

While Western sanctions mean you can’t use your Visa or MasterCard in the country, you won’t have to take much cash. All expenses — including transport, food, and accommodation — amounted to less than $200 for my 11-day trip last year. 

Inexpensive, air conditioned buses run frequently between most cities, and a full falafel sandwich will often only set you back 25 cents. There’s amazing rosewater ice cream almost everywhere in summer for about 10 cents a cone.

persepolisJohn Moore/GettyPersepolis, literally “city of the Persians,” was the capital of the first Persian empire 2,500 years ago.

Iran is safe for female travelers. Iranian women dress fashionably, and the level of respect on the streets could be considered high even by Western standards. However, it is mandatory to wear a headscarf in public at all times. Headscarves are skimpy, colorful, and barely attached in Tehran, but in regional areas more conservative coverings are the norm.

Nain Na'in IranThe old city of the tiny town of Na’in.

Source:

Iran’s president has more cabinet members with Ph.D. degrees from U.S. universities than Barack Obama does

Iran-cabinet members with Ph.D. degrees from U.S. universities

Iran-cabinet members with Ph.D. degrees from U.S. universities

“Take, for example, Rouhani’s chief of staff, Mohammad Nahavandian. He spent many years in the United States and has a Ph.D. in economics from George Washington University. Or Javad Zarif, the foreign affairs minister and chief negotiator in the recent nuclear deal between Iran and six global powers. He studied at the University of San Francisco and completed his doctorate at the University of Denver. For five years, he lived in New York and was Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations. Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, has a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from MIT. Mahmoud Vaezi, the communication minister, studied electrical engineering at Sacramento and San Jose State Universities and was enrolled in the Ph.D. program at Louisiana State University (he ultimately earned a doctorate in international relations at Warsaw University).  Other cabinet members have advanced degrees from universities in Europe and Iran. Abbas Ahmad Akhoundi, the transportation minister, has a Ph.D. from the University of London, while President Rouhani got his from Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland. The new government in Tehran, in other words, might well be one of the most technocratic in the world.”

Source: The Atlantic | The Case for Giving Iran’s Scholar-Diplomats a Chance

Other surprising articles regarding Iran and the US: The other Iran | Tag | USA

Jewish Australian Ben Winsor: Truth about Iran – Facts that may surprise westerners

mosque in iran

Isfahan Iran, Naghsh-e Jahan Square

Since the Iranian revolution and hostage crisis of 1979, Iran has had antagonistic relations with the U.S. and other Western nations, with little official communication between heads of state, fierce rhetoric on opposing sides, and increasing sanctions.

Given this history, it’s not surprising that many Westerners fail to appreciate ways in which Iran is a relatively advanced and even liberal state.

It certainly took me by surprise when I traveled there last year.

A Positive Opinion Of Westerners

Opinion polls show the majority of Iranians hold a favorable opinion of Americans, making Iran second only to Israel as the most supportive country in the Middle East.

To travel as a Westerner in Iran is to be routinely stopped on the street and welcomed by curious and generous strangers. You will be given cool drinks, invited to parties, and offered free tours of anything nearby.

Young Iranians get their hands on iPhones despite the sanctions, use VPN software to hack past their regime’s ban on Facebook, and watch American TV shows and movies online.

As reported in The Atlantic, a clear majority of Iranians want the current Iranian–U.S. nuclear talks to succeed. If talks fail, however, many expect that moderates like the current president would lose power to religious hardliners.
[…]
Related articles: https://theotheriran.com/tag/foreigners-in-iran/

Better Gender Equality Than Some Countries

Unlike in Saudi Arabia, a close U.S. ally, women in Iran have the right to vote, drive, and travel alone. Women have served in parliament and in cabinet, though they are banned from running in presidential elections, and they attend universities, though some have restricted them from taking certain courses.

The issue of women’s rights highlights the conflict between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani — who is on the more moderate end of the country’s religious-conservative ruling clique — and the country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

On International Women’s Day in April, Rouhani spoke live on television and criticized those who consider women a threat, saying Iran had “a long way to go” and that he “will not accept the culture of sexual discrimination.”

Iranian mother, daughter and some christmas trees

Iranian mother, daughter and some christmas trees

Articles on Iranian women: https://theotheriran.com/tag/women/

Birth Control

After the Iran–Iraq war, when focus shifted from conflict to the economy in 1988, the same Ayatollah who legalized sex-changes issued a ruling making birth control free and widely available. He was convinced a high birth-rate would be bad for the economy.

With family planning sessions provided to all newlyweds, the birth-rate fell more than half, allowing parents to invest more in their children’s education and giving women the chance to gain ground in the workforce. More than 60% of Iranian university students are now women, with numbers even higher in some science and engineering courses, the BBC reported.

An American Ally?

Iran has found itself partially aligned with the West in fighting groups like the Taliban in Afghanistan, and jihadists in Iraq and Syria.

After 9/11, Iran supported overthrowing the Taliban in Afghanistan and assisted NATO with strategy and the formation of a new government.

Iran also had no great love for Iraq’s regime, having fought a brutal war against Saddam Hussein in the 1980s. Backed by the Reagan Administration at the time, Hussein used sarin gas and other chemical weapons  on thousands of Iranian soldiers.

The dynamic changed in 2013, however, when Iranians elected President Rouhani, a reformist who has staked his presidency on mending ties with America.

Iranian policy in Iraq has now also refocused with the rise of Sunni ISIS jihadists. Iran worries that ISIS is destabilizing the region and jeopardizing the current pro-Iranian governments in Iraq and Syria.

Kurds battling ISIS in northern Iraq report that Iran was the first country to respond when they requested support.

Related articles: https://theotheriran.com/tag/usa/

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-truth-about-iran-2014-9#ixzz3GW9CEQAj

Italy’s former ambassador to Iran: No, Iranians Don’t Hate You

Roberto Toscano - Italy’s ambassador to Iran, 2003-2008

Roberto Toscano – Italy’s ambassador to Iran, 2003-2008

In 2004, when I was Italy’s ambassador to Iran, I had the occasion to tour the country together with a couple of American friends, at the beginning rather hesitant to come and visit, but then overwhelmed by the hospitality and politeness that are so typically Iranian and even more by the “extra” of both hospitality and politeness that came out when people realized that they were American.

One episode has remained marked in their memory (and in mine too): at the end of a visit to the tomb of the poet Saadi in Shiraz a mullah, who had been listening to the English translation of our guide, and had asked him where those tourists were from, went up to my friend, shook his hand, said (in English) “God bless you” and left.

[…] Most people who have seen the recent movie Argo […] are convinced that what they see is contemporary Iran: still hostile, still radical, still violently and massively anti-American. The truth is rather different. Certainly the regime finds in anti-Americanism a sort of marker of identity […] What is interesting, however, is that anti-American rhetoric is not focused on what America is, but on what America does. […] the 1953 Anglo-American coup against Mossadeq or the support given to Saddam in its 1980 aggression against Iran.

The fact is, however, that this regime narrative, and the hostility toward the U.S., is not really shared by the majority of Iranians. […]

Iran — and this will surprise the average American — is not a closed country, and its citizens can travel abroad, if they get the necessary entry visas, of course. In the second place, educated Iranians (not a narrow minority, differently from other countries in the area) have access to reliable information about the world and also about the U.S., in spite of the attempts of the regime to filter “subversive” material in both TV programs and internet traffic. […]

Actually, I found that in Iran there is a lot of admiration for America: not necessarily for its policy, but for its economy and for its culture, wildly popular especially among Iranian youth. […] A strong proof of the fact that America is not hated by Iranians came with September 11, when thousands of Iranians went spontaneously to the streets for a candlelight vigil in homage and solidarity to the victims of the attack on the Twin Towers.

The lack in Iran of the generalized and often virulent anti-Americanism that characterizes Middle Eastern populations is something that Americans traveling in Iran, even in the present tense political situation, can testify. Not only is there no hostility toward American citizens, but instead we see curiosity and friendship at the same time, though often combined with criticism for specific U.S. policies and behavior.

Definitely crowds chanting ‘marg bar Amrika’ (death to America) are today both very rare and not very much convinced: they tend to be formed by activists bused to the demonstrations. […]

Many, if not most Iranians, may be fed up with the regime, especially in its present incarnation in President Ahmadinejad, but they are a proud, patriotic people. They have problems with their leaders, but not with their country, especially in the event of an external attack.

The full article: The Huffington Post | Roberto Toscano | No, Iranians don’t hate you

Series American couple in Iran: Traveling to Iran as Americans

Audrey hanging with a group of Iranian women in Masouleh.

Audrey hanging with a group of Iranian women in Masouleh.

Traveling to Iran as an American citizen may sound complicated and dangerous. It’s not. We’re here to dispel the myths and answer the questions piling up in our inbox based on our visit to Iran just a few weeks ago.

Our aim in the following Q&A is to answer actual reader queries and to help demystify the process of traveling to Iran.

Are American citizens legally allowed to visit Iran?
Although the United States has imposed sanctions against Iran, there are currently no restrictions on American citizens visiting Iran as tourists. Currently, about 1,000-1,500 Americans visit Iran each year. […]

As an American, how will Iranians treat me?
Iranian people were often shocked to discover that we were American and that we were able to get a visa to their country. Once this fact set in, they often went over the top in welcoming us — everything from cordial greetings, to smiles, hugs, gifts and invitations to homes — especially when our guide was out of sight. We joke that it’s the closest we’ve felt to being rock stars.

Iranian University Students - Esfahan, Iran

Read the whole article if interested in details about getting a visa and organizing the trip:
Uncornered Market – Travel and Life Adventure | Traveling to Iran as Americans

Anyhow the blog is just great:
Uncornered Market – Travel and Life Adventure | Travel | Iran

Volleyball: Iran wins vs World League Champion USA in third match in Irvine, USA

Group photo of Iran and US volleyball teams

Group photo of Iran and US volleyball teams

After falling in two previous matches to the U.S. men’s national team, Iran earned a 3-2 victory in the USA Volleyball Cup on Friday night.

Amir Ghafour had 26 points in the 24-26, 26-24, 25-27, 25-20, 15-9 victory at Viejas Arena at San Diego State. The four-match exhibition series concludes Saturday night at UC Irvine.

 
Other sports related Iran news: https://theotheriran.com/tag/sports/

Series American couple in Iran: Audry’s cites on Persepolis: Ancient Persia, Modern Lessons

Although Persepolis is one of Iran’s top archeological and tourist sites, I was careful to keep my expectations in check before visiting. After all, what would remain of the 2,500 year-old capital of the Achaemenid Empire? Amidst crumbled columns, I found great detail that blew me away and a surprising connection to the present.

Gate of All Nations - Persepolis, Iran

Gate of All Nations – Persepolis, Iran

When I first entered Persepolis through the Gate of All Nations, I was struck by the scale of it all – the statues, the columns, the great stone. I tried to imagine the process of transporting the raw materials to this place, constructing the city and palace, and fashioning it all without the mechanical means we have today. […]

Persepolis eastern staircase leading to Apadana Palace, all 23 subject nations represented.

Persepolis eastern staircase leading to Apadana Palace, all 23 subject nations represented.

Like a camera lens, my eyes began to focus on stone-carved details — hair, faces, beards, hats, and clothes, gifts carried in hands. That you could still make out every curl in a beard, eyelash on a camel and softened skin of soldiers holding hands — 2,500 years later – struck me as truly spectacular. […]

And it went on like this, through the citizens of each member nation — Egyptians, Assyrians, Indians, Tajiks, and so on. Each was easily identifiable, their physical appearance and cultural trappings preserved in stone from 500 B.C. […]

It was the whole of these details that to me seemed to define the character of the Achaemenid Empire: a multi-ethnic ancient empire built on respecting – if not maintaining — the diversity of many cultures amidst a unifying loyalty to one king. […]

Persian and Median soldiers holding hands, leading the way to the king.

Persian and Median soldiers holding hands, leading the way to the king.

Cyrus the Great’s Human Rights Charter
While it was Darius the Great who built this palace at Persepolis, it was his father-in-law – Cyrus the Great – who attempted to set the foundation of mutual respect within the Achaemenid Empire. In his Babylon Cylinder (539 B.C.), Cyrus put forth some of the first recorded mentions of human rights, an expression of tolerance, and of religious, linguistic and racial equality across the empire.

History tells us that great civilizations have come and gone, risen and fallen, ascended and crumbled. The pity of the great Persian empire — 23 nations under one roof and the nascent echoes of human rights — was that a great man came and went well before his time. […]

Head over to: Uncornered Market – Travel and Life Adventure | Persepolis to see all photos, and read the whole text.

Iranian Mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani: The first woman to win the “Nobel Prize of Mathematics”

Maryam Mirzakhani

Maryam Mirzakhani is the first woman to ever win the Fields Medal – known as the “Nobel Prize of mathematics” – in recognition of her contributions to the understanding of the symmetry of curved surfaces. […]

Mirzakhani was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. As a young girl she dreamed of becoming a writer. By high school, however, her affinity for solving mathematical problems and working on proofs had shifted her sights. […]

She became known to the international math scene as a teenager, winning gold medals at both the 1994 and 1995 International Math Olympiads – she finished with a perfect score in the latter competition. Mathematicians who would later be her mentors and colleagues followed the mathematical proofs she developed as an undergraduate.

After earning her bachelor’s degree from Sharif University of Technology in 1999, she began work on her doctorate at Harvard University under the guidance of Fields Medal recipient Curtis McMullen. […] —By Bjorn Carey for Stanford University

Interesting Interview with Mirzakhani by The Guardian:

G: What are some of your earliest memories of mathematics?

I grew up in a family with three siblings. My parents were always very supportive and encouraging. It was important for them that we have meaningful and satisfying professions …

In many ways, it was a great environment for me, though these were hard times during the Iran-Iraq war. My older brother was the person who got me interested in science in general. He used to tell me what he learned in school. My first memory of mathematics is probably the time that he told me about the problem of adding numbers from 1 to 100. I think he had read in a popular science journal how Gauss solved this problem. The solution was quite fascinating for me.

G: What experiences and people were especially influential on your mathematical education?

I was very lucky in many ways. The war ended when I finished elementary school; I couldn’t have had the great opportunities that I had if I had been born 10 years earlier. I went to a great high school in Tehran – Farzanegan – and had very good teachers. I met my friend Roya Beheshti during the first week of middle school. It is invaluable to have a friend who shares your interests, and it helps you stay motivated.

Our school was close to a street full of bookstores in Tehran. I remember how walking along this crowded street, and going to the bookstores, was so exciting for us. We couldn’t skim through the books like people usually do here in a bookstore, so we would end up buying a lot of random books. Also, our school principal was a strong-willed woman who was willing to go a long way to provide us with the same opportunities as the boys’ school.

Later, I got involved in Math Olympiads that made me think about harder problems. As a teenager, I enjoyed the challenge. But most importantly, I met many inspiring mathematicians and friends at Sharif University. The more I spent time on mathematics, the more excited I became.

G: Could you comment on the differences between mathematical education in Iran and in the US?

It is hard for me to comment on this question since my experience here in the US is limited to a few universities, and I know very little about the high school education here. However, I should say that the education system in Iran is not the way people might imagine here. As a graduate student at Harvard, I had to explain quite a few times that I was allowed to attend a university as a woman in Iran. While it is true that boys and girls go to separate schools up to high school, this does not prevent them from participating say in the Olympiads or the summer camps. […]

G: What advice would you give those who would like to know more about mathematics – what it is, what its role in society has been, and so son?

This is a difficult question. I don’t think that everyone should become a mathematician, but I do believe that many students don’t give mathematics a real chance. I did poorly in math for a couple of years in middle school; I was just not interested in thinking about it. I can see that without being excited mathematics can look pointless and cold. The beauty of mathematics only shows itself to more patient followers.
Source: The Guardian

Excerpts of an article by Erica Klarreich published in Quanta Magazine that shows some other interesting aspects about her personality:

With her low voice and steady, gray-blue eyes, Mirzakhani projects an unwavering self-confidence. She has an equal tendency, however, toward humility. Asked to describe her contribution to a particular research problem, she laughed, hesitated and finally said: “To be honest, I don’t think I’ve had a very huge contribution.” And when an email arrived in February saying that she would receive what is widely regarded as the highest honor in mathematics — the Fields Medal, which will be awarded today at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Seoul, South Korea — she assumed that the account from which the email was sent had been hacked.

Other mathematicians, however, describe Mirzakhani’s work in glowing terms. […]

As a child growing up in Tehran, Mirzakhani had no intention of becoming a mathematician. Her chief goal was simply to read every book she could find. She also watched television biographies of famous women such as Marie Curie and Helen Keller, and later read “Lust for Life,” a novel about Vincent van Gogh. These stories instilled in her an undefined ambition to do something great with her life — become a writer, perhaps. […]

In her first week at the new school, she made a lifelong friend, Roya Beheshti, who is now a mathematics professor at Washington University in St. Louis. As children, the two explored the bookstores that lined the crowded commercial street near their school. Browsing was discouraged, so they randomly chose books to buy. “Now, it sounds very strange,” Mirzakhani said. “But books were very cheap, so we would just buy them.”

To her dismay, Mirzakhani did poorly in her mathematics class that year. Her math teacher didn’t think she was particularly talented, which undermined her confidence. At that age, “it’s so important what others see in you,” Mirzakhani said. “I lost my interest in math.”

The following year, Mirzakhani had a more encouraging teacher, however, and her performance improved enormously. “Starting from the second year, she was a star,” Beheshti said. […]

In 1994, when Mirzakhani was 17, she and Beheshti made the Iranian math Olympiad team. Mirzakhani’s score on the Olympiad test earned her a gold medal. The following year, she returned and achieved a perfect score. […]

After completing an undergraduate degree in mathematics at Sharif University in Tehran in 1999, Mirzakhani went to graduate school at Harvard University, where she started attending McMullen’s seminar. […]

She started going to McMullen’s office and peppering him with questions, scribbling down notes in Farsi.

“She had a sort of daring imagination,” recalled McMullen, a 1998 Fields medalist. “She would formulate in her mind an imaginary picture of what must be going on, then come to my office and describe it. At the end, she would turn to me and say, ‘Is it right?’ I was always very flattered that she thought I would know.”
Read on here: Quanta Magazine

Other interesting articles on Mirzakhani in iranianroots.com:
http://iranianroots.com/?s=Mirzakhani

Series American couple in Iran: A Poem to the People

Iranian Hospitality on Train from Iran

Iranian hospitality on train from Iran to Turkey

My heart sank as I watched the news from Iran this morning, scenes of the British Embassy being charged by an angry mob in Tehran. It saddens me – angers me, really – that narrow groups like this who define the world’s perception of Iran and the Iranian people are in reality such a small percentage of the country’s population.

My experience tells me they are the outliers, yet circumstances conspire to convince us on the outside to see them as the norm.

I thought back to all the people we met across Iran, from families in small mountain villages to shopkeepers on the busy streets of Tehran, virtually all of them welcoming us Americans – the supposed enemy — almost always with open arms and quite often bearing gifts. I remembered our conversations with Iranian people of all ages who longed for engagement — not only with us, but with the rest of the world.

I felt like yet another door closed on them today.

Continue to read the whole story here:
Uncornered Market – Travel and Life Adventure | Iran: A Poem to the People

Series: An American Couple in Iran

Audrey and Dan at Persepolis

Audrey spoke to IranWire about how the country defied all her expectations:

What was your overriding impression of the country and its people?
We felt very welcome in Iran and were impressed by the level of hospitality shown by ordinary Iranians that we met on the streets, in markets, anywhere. Additionally, the ancient sites, the architecture and the deep history. […]

Where did you visit during your trip to Iran?
We spent the first two weeks on a small group tour with G Adventures where we visited Tehran, Hamedan, Kermanshah, Ahvaz and Susa, Shiraz (and Persepolis), Yazd, Esfahan, Abyaneh and back to Tehran. Then we had a private guide for a week where we visited Rasht, Massouleh, Ardabil, Tabriz, Kandovan and the St. Stephanos Church near Jolfa. […]

When you continued your travels, and eventually went back to the U.S., what was the most commonly asked question about your time in Iran?
“Was it safe for you?” Many Americans only see Iranians when they appear on the news, and this is usually during demonstrations or political speeches. They don’t realize that there is a whole other Iranian world outside of this. So we would surprise American friends and family when we joked that Iran was the place that we felt most like rock stars because of the kindness and attention we felt. We told stories of being invited to tea by strangers or people buying us gifts. […]

What was your favorite place in Iran? Do you have one memory that stands out for you?
Our top three places: Shiraz: Beautiful mosques and sights, and we found the people to be incredibly friendly and warm; Persepolis: Impressed not only by the engravings and ruins, but also the history and multiculturalism of the Persian Empire that we learned about while there; Northwestern Iran, especially Tabriz and the Armenian Monastery.

Continue to read the full article: IranWire | An American Couple in Iran

American athletes get star treatment in Iran: “USA, USA” chants for US athletes

“People look at me like I have two heads,” said James Ravannack, describing the reaction he gets when he explains to people what a fabulous time he had in Iran. Ravannack, president of USA Wrestling, told Al-Monitor that he “can’t wait to go back” and wants to take his family along to stay for a month. […]

For Americans, who tend to view Iran through the lens of the 1979 hostage crisis or President George W. Bush’s “axis of evil” speech, going to Iran and actually meeting its people can be mind-blowing.

Robby Smith, 27, the number one US heavyweight Greco-Roman wrestler, told Al-Monitor that the reception he got from Iranian fans was “the most incredible I’ve ever experienced.” […]

The Iranians kept chanting, “ ‘R. Smith’ and ‘USA, USA!’ ” Smith said. The same thing happened after he came from behind against an Armenian wrestler and when he returned, in plain clothes, toward the end of the event. “Thousands of Iranians chanting ‘USA!’” […] Fraser, who estimates that he has visited 50 countries in 19 years with USA Wrestling, said, “Iran was, if not the top, then at the top” of all of them. He added, “[Iranians] are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. They treated us like royalty.” […]

This reporter was present in 1998 when US wrestlers returned to Iran for the first time since the 1979 revolution. The US flag was displayed in Tehran’s Azadi stadium — not burned as usual in an anti-American demonstration — and Iranian fans cheered as much or more for the Americans as they did for their own team. […]

A unique feature of the recent trip to Iran by the US wrestlers is that their current team leader — a Minneapolis wrestling enthusiast named Christina “Kiki” Kelley — is a woman. […] Kelley, who like the other members of the US delegation, had expected a grim, strict Islamic state, came prepared with ultra-conservative black clothes — which elicited giggles, she said, from many Iranians. Asked to participate in the opening ceremonies for the competition, she changed into red, white and blue.

“I kept my head bowed until we were two-thirds of the way around, when I realized that men were standing and that they were not booing, they were cheering,” […]

Kelley was invited by her Iranian hosts to stay an extra six days, which gave her a chance to travel to Isfahan and to go to schools, an orphanage and numerous cultural sites, including a private art collection at the parliament in Tehran. She, like Ravannack, said she wants to go back with her family and is also considering becoming a sports and cultural ambassador to Iran if the US government decides to appoint one.

Source: Al-Monitor | US athletes get star treatment in Iran, Facebook | Steven H Fraser | Photos, Muftah | Iran and the United States Wrestle with Love

The American Soccer Coach on Iran’s Bench

FBL-WC-2014-IRI-TRAINING

Dan Gaspar coaches Iran’s goalkeepers for 2014’s Football World Cup in Brazil

[…] “It’s been a fantastic experience these last three years in Iran,” Gaspar tells TIME. “I’ve never felt being an American was a detriment. I have found it interesting, and everyone has been very respectful.” […]

“It’s quite a challenge. We look it as an advantage — our guiding principle has always been team above individual,” says Gaspar. “We have established a team that is humble, committed, that’s willing to follow a discipline that we have created.” […]

Read the full story here: Time | The American Soccer Coach on Iran’s Bench

Harvard Business Review: What It’s Like Being a Business Traveler in Iran

With a sense that a new dialogue may be happening between this remarkable culture and the West, about a dozen CEOs from the U.S., U.K., and Canada with extensive experience in emerging markets persevered to take a closer look. […]

Throughout our ten days this month in Tehran, the religious center of Qom and historic Kashan, Isfahan, and Shiraz, little of what we experienced was expected. […]

We almost immediately learned that Iran is an astoundingly lovely place, with very little of the deep poverty one sees intertwined into the societies of most emerging markets. We visited some of the greatest historic and cultural centers we have ever seen. There is an excellent education system – their engineer