THE PERSIAN CONNECTION
September 21, 2017, 7:00 PM
The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Building, USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex, 900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007
The SCA Alumni Screening Series and Samuel Goldwyn Films invite you and a guest to a special screening of
The Persian Connection
Written & Directed by SCA Alum Daniel Y-Li Grove
Story by Reza Sixo Safai
Produced by Patrick Grove, Reza Sixo Safai, Seth Caplan
Starring Reza Sixo Safai, Helena Mattsson, Nikohl Boosheri and Gregory Kasyan
Followed by a Q&A with Reza Sixo Safai, Nikohl Boosheri and Gregory Kasyan
Thursday, September 21, 2017
The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108
900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007
FREE ADMISSION. OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. RSVPs REQUIRED.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, 2016 Twin Cities Film Fest, 2016 DTLA Film Festival
Now Available On Demand
About The Persian Connection
As a child soldier, Behrouz (Reza Sixo Safai) miraculously survived the Iran-Iraq War to be squirreled away to the streets of Los Angeles. After two decades under the ruthless Iranian mobster Cirrus Golshiri (Parviz Sayyad), Behrouz leaves the underworld to follow his American Dream of becoming a “Real Estate Man”. But after a chance encounter involving a high-stakes poker game, he is brought back into the life he left behind and accused of stealing from his former boss. Behrouz and his Russian girlfriend Oksana (Helena Mattsson), must hunt down missing drugs as events from his past and present clash spiraling out of control. PERSIAN CONNECTION is an electric neon-noir fever dream set in the Persian opium underworld of Los Angeles.
Provided courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films. Not rated. 103 minutes. English.
In making THE PERSIAN CONNECTION our collective goal was to take you on a ride into the dark heart of the American Dream. Inspired by the life and struggles of an immigrant veteran of the Iran/Iraq war, THE PERSIAN CONNECTION re-imagines the classic noir as a neon-lit subversive fairytale in a hero’s quest to make sense of religious yearning in the godless dream factory of Los Angeles. Populated by a vagabond collection of dreamers, the film is infused with a lush electronic soundscape designed as a cinematic cocktail of poetry, drugs and violence. “So let’s take a little trip, baba...”
We started this journey just over four years ago. Reza Sixo Safai, who had performed outstandingly in my short A Better Place Than This, came to me with an idea. Reza told me the story of his uncle – an Iranian immigrant and veteran of the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88). He volunteered to serve on the front lines because he thought it extremely unfair that people of privilege could abstain from doing so. But he miraculously survived the war and immigrated to America where over the years he managed to live some semblance of the American Dream. A job. A house. A family. Yet sadly he was unable to come to terms with what he had seen and the person he had become. During the press tour for the Sundance winning film Circumstance, Reza received a phone call. His uncle had commit suicide.
Los Angeles is an immigrant city replete with such stories. From the Bolshevik Revolution to the Vietnam War to the current Syrian Civil War, she has taken in swaths of people forsaken by their homelands due to revolution, war and genocide. Her geography mirrors modern geo-politics: Koreatown, Little Ethiopia, Little Armenia, Tehrangeles, etc. For unlike other major cities, L.A. affords space. Affordable housing. Real estate. The kernel of the American Dream. A dream sold by her very own dream factory – Hollywood and the “culture industry,” the nexus of American soft power and a lightning rod to displaced migrants and creative dreamers alike.
Our dreamer Behrouz is plucked from the Iranian warfront and thrown into the Technicolor urban jungle of the Hollywood Hills. Replacing one dream of Paradise with another. For L.A. is where all come to shed their cultural baggage and grow a skin adorned with self-styled aesthetics, icons and ideology. Where ids live on sleeves and egos are formed in the veil of appearances, L.A. is a cultural swap meet and a kaleidoscope of becoming where identity is performed and meaning is self-created.
THE PERSIAN CONNECTION is filled with such performers: a real estate man come James Dean nihilist; a former prostitute turned Cyndi Lauper romantic; a Russian gangster gone Hollywood tribal. “We’re all Americans now. Yankee Doodle Dandy.” “But Paradise doesn’t last forever...” Between the cracks and the crevices, beneath the picturesque hotel pools and Sunset views there still remain the haves and have-nots. Like an opium-induced fever dream the film transports us through layers of a multifaceted Los Angeles, dark, colorful, moody, absurd, violent, obscene, uncanny and sublime.
THE PERSIAN CONNECTION is about immigrant others who dream their way up the Technicolor Hollywood Hills. From martyrdom, Jihad and the child’s foolish vision of Paradise to individual liberty, freedom and the romantic and nihilistic pursuit of the American Dream.
Daniel Y-Li Grove
About the Guests
DANIEL Y-LI GROVE (Writer/Director/Producer/Alum)
Daniel is a writer, director and producer who was born in Singapore and grew-up between Singapore, Jakarta, Sydney and Los Angeles. A BETTER PLACE THAN THIS – his award winning short about the Hangman of Singapore’s Changi Prison – continues to broadcast nationally on PBS and marked the first creative collaboration between the writer-director and his creative partner Reza Sizo Safai. They followed up with Executive Producing the beloved Sundance hit A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT under their newly formed Black Light District label. Previously Daniel’s screenplay for the short BLACKBIRD, about inner city Latinos at the age of sexual awakening, was a finalist for the 2011 Student Academy Awards for Best Dramatic Short. During his Master of Fine Arts at the University of Southern California he was a recipient of the Panavision Young Filmmaker Award, the Eastman Kodak Film Grant and the Jeffrey Jones Scholarship for Screenwriting. Daniel has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Sydney where he read philosophy, journalism and film studies. At the time he was heavily involved in the Sydney University Dramatic Society (SUDS) – the oldest living theatre group in the Southern Hemisphere – where he played the John the Baptist in Oscar Wilde’s Salome and produced numerous Harold Pinter plays. He previously worked as a journalist in Sydney, Singapore and Beijing. THE PERSIAN CONNECTION is his feature film directorial debut.
REZA SIXO SAFAI ("Behrouz"/Producer/Story)
Reza Sixo Safai co-starred in the 2011 Sundance Audience Winner CIRCUMSTANCE, prompting the Huffington Post to declare that he “deserves to be a frontrunner for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar." The film went on to win key awards at OUTFEST, Rome, Madrid and NYC New Fest, in addition to earning a Spirit Award Nomination for Best Film. Since Reza's short film THE MARIO VALDEZ STORY took home 2nd place at Cannes and the award winning short A BETTER PLACE THAN THIS, in which he starred, became PBS' flagship film, he has been a mainstay in the US indie film scene as both an actor and producer in many films including MEET ME IN MONTENEGRO, PREVERTERE and SHAH BOB with legendary Iranian actor Parviz Sayyad. The first film from his newly minted shingle Black Light District, which he co-founded with his partner in crime Daniel Grove, was the Sundance sensation A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT, the world's first Iranian Vampire/Western that made many top 10 lists for 2014 including Newsweek, The New Republic and Salon. In addition to winning a Gotham Award, the film received Spirit Award Nominations for Best First Film, Best Cinematography and the "Someone to Watch" Award. Along with Elijah Wood, Reza executive produced and played Rockabilly. His next leading role will be in the French/Thai co-production A BETTER PLACE THAN THIS, a feature adaptation of the award winning short, also to be directed by Daniel Grove. The script was an SFFS/KRF finalist along with Sundance winner FRUITVALE STATION and SXSW winner SHORT TERM 12. Reza produces along with French producer Raphael Benoliel ("Midnight in Paris", "Les Miserable"). THE PERSIAN CONNECTION is Reza's 2nd collaboration with Daniel Grove.
About the SCA Alumni Screening Series
The School of Cinematic Arts invites you to an exciting free screening series featuring a dynamic selection of new feature films by SCA alumni and faculty throughout 2017. All screenings and events will be free of charge and open to the public, although we do ask for an electronic reservation for each screening, which can be made through the website for each individual screening.
Check-In & Reservations
This screening is free of charge and open to the public. Please bring a valid USC ID or print out of your reservation confirmation, which will automatically be sent to your e-mail account upon successfully making an RSVP through this website. Doors will open at 6:30 P.M.
The USC School of Cinematic Arts is located at 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Parking passes may be purchased for $12.00 at USC Entrance Gate #5, located at the intersection of W. Jefferson Blvd. & McClintock Ave. We recommend Parking Structure D, at the far end of 34th Street. Metered street parking is also available along Jefferson Blvd.
Name: Matthew Meier