Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Scarborough Gets Served

How can Scarborough work as a professional news gatherer and still sound like he believes in Santa when engaging in a conversation about international politics?

Take a break from the pundits and try reading a book for a change. I pray your patience will survive the journey.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

the future of news

I've become quite a fan of ANP since I found out about them in July. Cutbacks of the major news outlets in addition to huge budget cuts of public media companies has created a vacuum of media news content. The internet is to be the new center for distribution of investigative journalism/ documentary content. This democratizing shift not only makes media more accessible, but allows for a development of a new interconnected media that allows viewers to have an active role in developing stories. Even though the reach of sites like ANP are nowhere near the reach of the cable news networks, the potential for massive audiences larger than that of CNN is there.

The move to the internet as a means of media distribution also frees companies of the traditional censorship and ratings groping seen in traditional broadcast. Smaller budgets and audiences with longer attention spans spells for better quality.

Viewer support and viral social video networks for small media projects like ANP will ensure the growth and self sufficiency of ANP and others like it. Enjoy your new world of media and don't settle for less.

reason wins today.

Narcy's song, The Real Arab Money actually made a difference.

read more here.

Narcy's reaction

more thoughts later.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Remembering Vahdat

It's been a while since I've talked about Warring Factions. The project is currently sitting in the in-boxes of multiple film festivals. I have been really careful not to over step my festival run. I have multiple tentative screenings for the film which will be released once the film makes it's first big screening.

I wanted to post some raw audio from the film which we filmed inside of Zurkhuneh Vahdat in Tehran. Vahdat means unity and in this case it's referring to the concept of unifying humanity in the spirit of Divine unity.

These two audio tracks were recorded during a demonstration of young varzeshkaran, "athletes", who were coached by Agha Fattahi who was also my teacher. The morshed was a young man whose name escapes me at the moment but I remember that he was one of the most technically talented morsheds that I met in Tehran.

Zurkhuneh Vahdat pt.1 -

Zurkhuneh Vahdat pt.2 -

Monday, December 01, 2008

Steps Towards Reconciliation

*photo courtesy of Reuters: Atef Hassan

Today Iran and Iraq exchanged prisoner remains for the first time since 2003. Steps of reconciliation like these are needed in the Muslim world, where conflicts of the past have a major effect on the policies and sentiments of the present. The Iran-Iraq war was one of the bloodiest contemporary wars in the Middle East and it's legacy is constantly downplayed by Western media sources. For there to be any type of healing and dignified sovereignty in the region there must be an open relationship between Iran and Iraq without interference of 3rd parties (i.e. the US).

read more

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I saw Handala at the On the Boundary conference at Baylor. I was able to meet the film's producer Peder Wiegner and one of the main subjects of the doc, Lucia Pizarro. Handala takes an interesting look at the occupation and deserves a wide audience. The film also focuses on the growth of non violent resistance movements within Palestine and Israel in addition to foreign organizations that are active in the occupied territories. Handala relates that the ultimate security and peace to the region is a one state solution and not the "roadmap" to a two state myth that will never go anywhere.

Lucia Pizarro, a Mexican convert to Judaism from Catholocism, is one of the subjects to the film that I had the honor to meet. She explained to me the dark irony of her Israeli citizenship. She told me that as a Mexican, she has absolute no connection to Palestine whatsoever. However, her Israeli citizenship and identity as a Jew has given her more rights than a native Palestinian who cannot even live in the land which his or her father lived. Lucia's work with ICAHD (Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions) has gotten her forcefully removed from the site of a Palestinian house reconstruction but has never landed her in an Israeli jail like it has her Palestinian co-workers.

is currently screening on a grass roots level to small cinemas, universities, and community centers. Screening information is available on the film's blog.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Red Bull BC One Recap

This was the first bboy battle that has ever been streamed live on the internet, so that in itself is a bit of a milestone. Paris was a perfect venue for the event because Bboy culture is alive there more than it ever was in the US. Parisian culture mixed with the poor immigrant presence in France is a perfect environment for an art like Breakin.

On a production note, the segments that were produced to air before the battles were cool but really awkward. The directing of the extra segments are downright poor. The only portion of the pre battle footage that felt natural was the underground battle in Paris and Lilou playing soccer with kids in a park. The production of the battles were great but had some faulty directing choices in the early battles.

The battles themselves were dope and looked great in the high quality flash player on the site. The bboys this year were probably the best of any of the previous BC Ones. I went into it looking forward to seeing Just Do it, Taisuke, and Kid David.

I had seen Just Do it (Germany) from a couple clips on the internet and was really impressed by his dynamic flow and creative blow ups. I think the judges should have given him the win in the first round over Cico because even though Cico's power is incredible, all of his enders were either flopped or he just quit early. His presentation was quite low and his tops were non existent. In the judges defense, Just Do It was holding back a lot. A newcomer to the BC One should know that if you're battling someone like Cico you have to come 100%. If he would have came as hard as he did during his German qualifier he could have taken it to the finals.

Kid David has only been around as a newcomer to the big scene for about a year. I met Kid David when he was much younger in 2005 when he came to Tucson for a 2 on 2 battle.
Jesus and I showed up to this battle with some ridiculous outfits which Jesus still claims to this day messed up his performance. We lost to them in the finals after running into the crowd while flopping a double team we came up with called the 2 man coin. Kid David is the protege of Roxrite, who is one of the smartest battlers and one of the original stack style bboys. Kid David has developed his style and has more character than most. I wanted to see Kid David go further but Lil Ceng's execution of some of the most difficult power tricks I have ever seen knocked David out early in the event.

I favored Taisuke from Japan to win the whole thing this year after I saw him at Freestyle Session 11. His beat rocking skills and character in addition to being well rounded with power and tricks make him the model for an amazing bboy. He showed a lot of great battle strategy in the early rounds but eventually fell flat in the finals where it seemed like he was running low on juice and moves. The final battle was a bit disappointing overall because of the fatigue of both competitors. 1 on 1 battles are incredibly difficult and can only be won by bboys with endurance and a full arsenal of moves. Wing of South Korea definitely showed that he had those ingredients.

My dream for next year, is to have a bboy from Iran in the BC One but it's going to take a lot of training to get there. If I go back within the next year, I will train the someone to be the next BC One competitor, God Willing.

*all photos courtesy of Red Bull BC One

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A New Page

It looks like what seemed very unlikely has just happened... More comments to come after I figure out what this all could mean for the world.

لا حول ولاقوة إلا بالله

but I hope this is right

Karl Rove predicts Obama to win

McCain is going to win the election

I apologize for this prediction blog but I feel like it's something that I have to say.
This election season has been quite interesting and unique considering that Barack Obama has gotten so far as a Presidential Candidate. However, my prediction that Obama will lose today is solely based on my cultural and media observations. I would say that the media frenzy surrounding Sarah Palin was a major turning point for the Republican party. Even though the Obama camp was able to out fundraise the Republicans, Sarah Palin attracted more press than they could have ever paid for. The way TV producer's drooled over Palin's presence was testament to the fact that this woman was TV gold in front of the camera.

Now you may be saying, "Palin has gotten a lot of publicity for looking unintelligent and unqualified so that should hurt the Republican campaign." This would be a great argument in a country that didn't elect George W. Bush twice. No matter how unintelligent the candidate may be, many of the voting public do not base their decisions on the issues most rational people would. From what I

have seen in the last year, those who will be voting McCain this election are either;
a. People who who put adherence to conservative interpretation of social issues before anything else.
b. Wealthy Americans who fear that new fiscal plans may threaten their standard of living.
c. People who see a person of color in office as a threat to the fabric of American (read "white") values.
Sarah Palin's media phenomenon has further perpetuated the appeal to "real" Americans who may not have all the right answers at the right times but they represent someone "we wouldn't mind leaving our kids with" and "are a friendly, familiar face we can trust."
There are many Americans who wouldn't trust a black man with their kids, what makes us think they would elect him into the highest elected office?
I'll say that I hope and pray that I am wrong about what I have said but don't be surprised if McCain wins. Barack Obama winning the election would be a major turn in America for the better, not because Obama is capable of changing the whole country but the election of a man of color into the presidency would give hope to millions of people who feel they will never be able to accomplish much nor be treated as equals. In addition, Obama winning could bring us a tad closer to an America that sees more people like Cynthia McKinney in Congress.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

On my way to Baylor

I've been invited to give a talk on Tuesday at Baylor University as a part of their conference, On The Boundary. I'll be speaking about Jihad in America so I'm sure there should be a turnout of curious Texans and Baylor students to hear me try to string sentences together, God willing. I'll be speaking at 9am at the Center for Jewish Studies for all of my Texas readers. I'm the only non-professor speaking so etemas dua to the fullest :)

I'll probably be posting the audio of my presentation next week so stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Best Selling Trash vol. I

Walking through a bookstore is a painful experience for most Muslim Americans. This is one reason why.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Post Traumatic Stress and Love

...The Americans gave the slender young woman from Fallujah a job as an interpreter and a room to live in. She earned $1,050 a month, more money than she had ever seen before. But she would never go home to see her family again.

I gave myself bruises listening to this story on my way home from work.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ramadhan Thoughts

For those that don't know, Ramadhan is a time which Muslims fast from food and drink during daylight hours. However, there is more to the month than the tradition of abstaining from food and drink. This year has been unique for me because it has been my first Ramadhan outside of the Islamic community that I grew up with. Organizing an Islamic program, picking up food, cleaning up the place of gathering has been something I have done for the last few years of my life an now I am in a new stage. Due to recent events in my life, I have been exposed to a different Ramadhan experience. For the first time, I am realizing the value of family and gathering more frequently in this month. The daily schedule is revised in this month to be conducive to spiritual growth and family bonding. Waking up in the morning before the time of the morning prayer increases the moments the devote spend in reflecting their lives in relation to the Divine. The pangs of
hunger during daylight hours brings the believer to a
state of humility while drawing attention to their motives for making such a sacrifice. As the time for the night prayer comes close, the believer waits with anticipation of dedicating his or her fast to God and reaching out towards the Infinite in the form of formal prayer.

This month is also designed as a time for self reflection but one cannot take advantage of it completely without making time for such spiritual exercise. It was not until the night of the 21st that I realized the magnitude of prayers that are said in this month and the effect of the Divine promise to answer those prayers. At the end of a 20 hour work shift, a call to an Islamic television station from Iran painted this picture clearly. Laying in bed a man desperately sought spiritual guidance in his time of passing. His cancer had escalated to a stage which he felt more productive in asking his Creator to take him from this life than asking to be cured. His greatest disappointment being that he was unable to partake in fasting even though his condition made him exempt from it. His heartache was one based in his inability to reach his Creator in a way that his fellow Muslims took for granted.

As the month comes to a close I realize that love for proximity to Greatness is the greatest of wealth.

*photo courtesy of Deviantart

An apology

I felt I needed to share this. It's worth the read.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Leila Khaled Hijacker

Taking a break from the madness for 62 minutes last night meant watching Leila Khaled- Hijacker

Palestinian- Swedish filmmaker Lina Makboul shoots Leila's legacy and contemporary life in Jordan, including herself as a woman who used to idolize Leila in her childhood but had mixed feelings about her in her adult life.
The film is a short and sweet 62 minutes but needs to be seen. Unfortunately the film is only available on Region 2 DVD which means if you're in the US it can probably only be viewed on your computer. Buy the film on the website.

Saturday, August 09, 2008


20:25 Said [Moses]: "O my Sustainer! Open up my heart,

قَالَ رَبِّ اشْرَحْ لِي صَدْرِي

20:26 and make my task easy for me,

وَيَسِّرْ لِي أَمْرِي

20:27 and loosen the knot from my tongue

وَاحْلُلْ عُقْدَةً مِّن لِّسَانِي

20:28 so that they might fully understand my speech,

يَفْقَهُوا قَوْلِي

20:29 and appoint for me, out of my kinsfolk, one who will help me to bear my burden:

وَاجْعَل لِّي وَزِيرًا مِّنْ أَهْلِي

Saturday, July 26, 2008

To the fans..

While waiting on my DVDs I got an official publicist for the film.

The trailer was posted on digg, so make sure to go digg it up.

I want to try to go back to Iran within a year depending on what happens with Warring Factions. I thought a random image from Iran would be appropriate to sum up how I feel right now.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Busy Bees

Haven't had an update for a while but I'll give you the rundown.

I have relocated to the city of angels (yeah right).

The press screeners have officially been sent to be manufactured.

The Warring Factions site is up and running along with a new trailer and it's waiting for you to come enjoy it. Big props to Randall French for cutting an amazing trailer and Tom Madrid for working crazy hard on the site.

I have been sending some home printed screeners to a few fests with upcoming and/or passed deadlines.

A new myspace page should be up tonight.

Get ready for the next step, and if you haven't already done it, subscribe to this blog by email on the right.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Monday, June 23, 2008 and update is currently set to redirect to this blog but it will soon be the new home for the film. There will be a new trailer in addition to production stills.

The final touches are being made on the film (subtitles, titles, etc) and I will be exporting for the DVD with Tom Madrid who is designing the DVD menus and website.

I'm aiming to send away for duplication by Friday (inshAllah).

Friday, June 20, 2008

DVD commentary

Sat down with JorDan Fuller a few nights ago to record a director's commentary which will reside on the screener DVD. I figured if I didn't do it now, I would never have time to do it later.
JorDan is directing his new short which will be shot in Mexico in July.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

DVD Screener cover

I've been excited about this for a while. The poster is designed by Marcos Oliva who is also designing my DVD art. I will be making a run with Discmakers for my festival and press screeners. For screener inquires email js.mashouf (at) gmail
Screeners won't be ready for another 2 weeks

Sunday, June 08, 2008


It feels good to be at this stage of coloring the film. I'm working with Post Supervisor at the U of A, Bob Demers, to give the picture the fine touches with Color.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Wrapping it up

I would say that one of the biggest challenges in making this film is deciding how to end it. So much has happened in the course of developing and executing that ending the film is a major ordeal. When does this film end and the next begin?
My last two sessions of feedback were great yet incredibly different. One feedback made me feel like it was great and ready to be in the can. The second feedback made me feel like taking another month to breathe.
I'm not sure which way it will go but I do know that I am very happy with what I do have. Stick around to see what happens.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sean Bell

As disappointed I was to hear the news of the final verdict of the Sean Bell case, I cannot completely grasp the feeling of utter disappointment and frustration that Black Americans must have in wake of this injustice. I found one of my favorite artist's thoughts on the verdict to be enlightening.

"I live less than fifteen blocks from the Sean Bell crime scene. Where today Friday April 25th the police officers have been acquitted on all charges. My limbs feel paralyzed and my body is numb. Although I know the power of not living one life in fear, I admit to feeling kind of nervous about going to the gym this morning, knowing the police and undercover presence will be at terrorist level. One of the superiors of the N.Y.C. detectives stated, "these police officers did not wake up that morning to commit a crime", but on the flip side of that, Sean Bell on the eve of his wedding did not go out that night to be killed. Every time a tragedy like this occurs it cuts deep. People know how big a sports fan I am, and I often use sports analogies in my writing. So here we go, this one goes out to preverbal hood! The system has adjusted its defense and its offense in accordance to your everyday game plan. Our objective is obvious, WIN THE GAME OF LIFE AT ALL COST! Healthy, free of sickness and depression, poverty. Happy with love in your heart for your family and your seeds. Inspired to show your kids how to succeed by example. Free, free to walk, free to think clearly free to hug your children. But sadly, WE ARE GETTING BLOWN OUT! It's not even close. Let me speak for myself. I struggle to stay optimistic because its not only about me I have compassion for all those in the struggle. Up until last year this time I just got my health insurance situation straight and was paying out of pocket for asthma medication and I'm sure most of the people out here who will read this blog can relate. At least to the point where you remember not having health insurance if you do now. You don't know stress until your contemplating going to the hospital during an asthma attack because you don't have insurance. We are losing in all facets of the game my dude, and I'm pissed, I'm ten times the soar loser that Kobe Bryant is. I HATE TO LOSE! As an emcee I feel like one of the many coaches in the game right now, we have to change the game plan. It's only halftime. We have to (hustle) smarter.
We have to encourage education in our children so that if they're called to take the stand at a trial they can express their sentiment clearly and articulately. I guess this is an outcry to all the other coaches and managers out there, any ideas on how we can at least get the tie for overtime."

-Pharoah Monch

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Iranica and Finkelstein

I saw a talk on the Encyclopedia Iranica project at the U of A. Multiple members of the UA faculty have contributed articles to the ongoing project. The website needs a better design but the articles beat Wikipedia for sure.

I also had the chance to shoot a casual discussion with Norman Finkelstein earlier this week when he came and spoke at the University. I'll share the link when the event organizers let me know where it's internet home will be.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Terrifying: USA vs Al-Arian

I came across this documentary a few months ago and have been waiting for its DVD distribution in the US. Looks like Link TV will be airing it a few times in May but they have also made the whole thing available online as well.
An excerpt from the summary:
In February 2003, the FBI arrested university professor and political activist Sami Al-Arian in Tampa, Florida. Charged with supporting terrorism, he was placed in solitary confinement for 2 1/2 years before he received a trial.

The film follows Sami, his wife Nahla and their five children through the 6 month long trial and the difficult period after the verdict. It is a personal story of a family, who like many Muslims in the USA today, are fighting against increasing stigmatization and discrimination in a post 911-climate.

The film deals with themes of freedom of speech, and the right to a fair trial. It also shows how the media influence public opinion and how the USA`s fear of and fight against terrorism can threaten civil liberties.

The scariest thing about this story is that Dr. Al Arian is still in prison to this day. This film rang very close to home for me especially after my ordeal in Atlanta. Stay tuned to their website, buy it, and screen it.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

update after a while

So if you're wondering, I'm not dead. I'll share a few thoughts with you to prove it.

. Picture locking a film is like deciding when it's time to ask someone to marry you.

. Hillary's recent statements regarding her far fetched hypothetical situation with Iran have amazed me. I liken her statements to a child playing the hypothetical threat game..."if you have Superman powers, I'll hire Lex Luther to pull out the kryptonite." In addition, mentioning Iran as a country that would use nuclear weapons without even having them is absurd, or would it be worse if she said the same thing to North Korea? This display of fear-mongering and war drumming is just the type of thing that the world should see as being dangerous to the security of the world.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Iran Footage: Learn English

Catch the end for a few hilarious moments of an English learning show on Iranian television.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Prof. Aslan on War with Iran

I have to disagree with him towards the end because a new conflict and batch of US at war propaganda would boost McCain's polls.

Monday, March 31, 2008

final shoot

It feels good to have it all shot but I won't be satisfied until I'm looking at it in picture lock.

photos by Lexi Obara

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Open Source: now part of democratizing film

Ever wanted to write a screenplay? Now you can do it for free with celtx, a free screenwriting software that is growing into a pre production software as well.
Put it on paper.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy 1387

نوروز مبارک
This message is a few days late but better late than never. A few thoughts.
1. Praying in the airport can be one of the most awkward moments but one Salaam a'alaykum from a Dallas airport employee made my whole day.
2. My New York trip was great and the feedback I got on the rough cut makes me much closer to mentally shaping this film.
3. Shooting the breeze with Ridz in NYC was chill. He'll be doing the title sequence for Warring Factions.
4. People need to stay awake about the war that is still happening in order to prevent another from happening.
5. I finished another 2 Shariati books this week. His ideas are just as important now as they were when he was speaking. We need another Shariati in 2008. Study up.
6. Spending time with family is like therapy sometimes.
7. Wielding fear is the key to McCain campaign. Stay prepared for the scary diversion from the truth.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

My welcoming committee to the US part VI

Most of the reports I have written on people have been ok but a few have been bad. A few people ...,” he paused remembering those cases, “Let's just say they didn't go home.”

Officer T then asked me about every name that was associated with my papers asking me the ages, locations, and education levels of each in addition to whether any of them had ever been in the US or wanted to come to the US. The languages I speak eventually came up in the interview.

Would you ever consider doing this?” he said, meaning working for Homeland Security.

Never.” I said confidently.

Not even if they paid you $80,000 a year.”

They could never pay me enough to work for them.”

You don't really like the government do you?”

Can you tell?” After I said this an awkward silence fell in the room. “How much longer is this gonna take and where am I gonna sleep in here?”

How long does it take to fast forward through each of those tapes?”

Probably about 5 minutes.”

You said there was 15 so times that by 15 minutes. I'll be back.” He stood up and left the office in the direction that he left before.

He returned in 5 minutes with a grim face. “I got some bad news for you. I know I told you that we were going to review the footage here but my supervisor is not having it. I'm sorry. He really thinks there is more to this.”

I looked at him with the attempt to express how angry I was without making sound.

I know your pissed,” he said in consolation. “If you want to punch a hole in the wall I won't say anything.”

Putting a hole in the wall won't help me keep my tapes. I know I should probably call a lawyer but I want to ask you that if I start making noise about wanting a lawyer will it help me keep the tapes?”

You don't want to do that. Your case is not closed. Like I said before, your whole case can be flipped against you, easily. You might never get them back.” That statement chilled me to the bone.

Well you may just be saying that to shut me up but it seems like your giving me sincere advice.”

I am,” he said.

Officer T opened his desk drawer to find a plastic seizure bag with a zip top and various lines and numbers.

This is a seizure bag. Most things that are put in these are destroyed but I'm writing here that these are being held for review. Okay?” He put the tapes into the bag and made me sign a chain of custody receipt releasing the tapes to him.

These will stay in your hands?”

No, but whenever the custody changes you should be notified at the number you leave on the form”

Officer T separated the receipt from it's white page and gave me the yellow carbon copy page.

I was released along with both of my passports at 10:30 pm.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Thursday, March 06, 2008

WF at 2008 New York Arab & South Asian Film Fesitval

2008 New York Arab and South Asian Film Festival - TRAILER from jawad metni on Vimeo.

The promotional cut of the first 3 minutes of the film is playing at the NYASAFF
Special thanks to Sarah Rahbar for forwarding the DVD screener to the show curator, Swati Khurana
The Stories We Tell Curated by Swati Khurana................ Tuesday, March 11, 8pm
This video program will feature short, experimental works by South Asian and Arab artists whose work reveals the tenuous nature of story-telling. The videos will be a combination of home movies as necessary fictions, excavations of propaganda and other effective formats of lie-spreading, documentary efforts at revealing the 'real', the stories that performances and performativity can tell, and narrative films where the act of telling the story becomes the narrative.
Festival Program Link

Monday, March 03, 2008

Public Rough Cut Screenings

Rough cut time!

Tomorrow at SMU @ Dedman Life Sciences Room 132 6:30pm

Wednesday at Baylor @ Barfield Drawing Room 5:00pm

P.S.  Never set a dowry like this guy.

Friday, February 29, 2008

My welcoming committee to the US part V

Who did you stay with in Iran?”

My uncle.”

What's his name and where does he live?”

Houshang Mashouf, Sarhang Sakhai and Hafez St. Building ...”

How old is he? Has he ever been to the US?”

He's 68 I think. He's never been to the US.”

Why not?”

He can't get a visa. He tried for a few years but could only get a visa to Canada so everyone went there to visit him. I never met him until I went to Iran in 2006.”

I'm sorry to hear about that.”

I'm surprised you wouldn't know that it is very hard for Iranians to get visas to the US.”

Let me tell you something. We don't know very much. We are given something called 'cultural sensitivity training.' It's actually a packet about this big.” He took his thumb and forefinger and displayed the size of the packet, which from how wide his fingers were was probably around 20 pages.

He continued, “I know that when I handle your Koran, that I shouldn't put anything else on top of it and that if I'm sitting with my legs crossed, I shouldn't face the sole of my foot towards you.”

That's unfortunate, because if you knew a little more you may be able to understand what is normal behavior and what is suspicious... which is your job.”

So what's in the film?” He asked obviously changing the subject.

A lot of stuff. Me with my family, me break dancing with kids in Iran, some footage from the Zurkhoone, which is a traditional exercise or martial art.”

It says here you went to a military base.”

I did not remember visiting a base but was reminded when he slid me a copy of my expense records with the entry "Taxi to Zurkhune Qasr Firuze on military base- 3000 Toman." I regretted writing those two words that were intended to remind me of which Zurkune I went to.

Yes but I only went to work out. You know how military bases have gyms that guests can come work out? That's what I did.”

Where was it?”

I have no idea. It was in Tehran. We went there at night.”

You understand how this could be flipped on you?” He said.

I don't understand. Because I went to a military base?”

You went to a military base and received para military martial arts training.”

I laughed to myself at how ridiculous that sounded and then feared the actual notion of that being made into a case.

With fear in my heart and a condescending tone I said, “Are you serious?"

Sunday, February 24, 2008

My welcoming committee to the US part IV

I returned to the general holding area where I made small talk with a man from Brazil and another man from Iran. When talking with the Iranian man we both silently acknowledged the routine matter of our situation as Iranians returning to the US even though mine was a bit exceptional. After another half an hour of waiting, Officer T returned with all of my other belongings and a binder filled with xeroxed copies of my documents.

We moved into a small disorganized office with two desks with computers and a few chairs. I sat across from his desk.

Now we have a lot of questions,” he said. “But before we get started do you have any questions?”

No,” I said in my best poker face.

Most people ask us why they are here.”

I guess that's a good question,” I replied.

Our other departments view travel histories, backgrounds, occupations and then tell us who we should be talking to. What we do is interview and do an initial evaluation. So let's get started. First of all what were you doing in Iran?”

I was there to visit family and work on my documentary film.”

You said you were staying in Tehran. Did you go anywhere else?”

I went to Qom which is about an hour away,” I said preparing for the onslaught of new questions.

What did you do there?” He said this while starting a new page in his notebook made for my file.

I was there to visit a religious shrine and do some shopping. I can tell you what I bought there but you already saw all of it.”

You didn't visit any training camps while you were there?”

No, nor did I see any 'training camps.' I didn't go to Pakistan.”

He looked at me and saw that I was visibly offended of the notion of going to the kinds of terrorist training camps shown on television at any mention of Al Qaeda.

Are you working with the Iranian government in any capacity? Did you meet anyone in high levels of the Iranian government?”


Who is Alexander Kluge?”


Alexander Kluge. We found his name in your things.”

Where in my things?”

In your notebook. Who is he?” He said this while showing me the copy of the pages in my notebook.

You see, I'm a filmmaker and I use that notebook to write down ideas. So anything you see in there might not make any sense to you. Alexander Kluge is the name of a filmmaker that one of my professors recommended.”

Ok. But now you see how this is going to work.”

This is going to take forever,” I whined.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My welcoming committee to the US part III

My luggage was all taken out and searched by Officer T who was now wearing latex gloves while sorting through my belongings. After sorting my things into three main piles, Officer T instructed me to pack up my belongings in the pile containing clothing. The other two piles consisted of CDs, DVDs, my laptop, cell phone, Ipod, and digital still camera. The other pile consisted of my magazines, papers, notebooks, and film documents. Officer T collected both piles with difficulty and carried them to another area in which I never saw.

I was made to wait in a general holding area where others were being singled out from the customs line. I sat there for about two hours while Officer T, backed up data and made photo copies.

About 45 minutes into my waiting I asked another Homeland Security agent whether I could use a bathroom or not. A blank face fell on this agent.
“Let me check,” he said. I wondered how many people were denied this request and hope I wasn't one of them. A few minutes of waiting inspired me to display to this man that I had a plastic water bottle and I was ready to use it. I got his attention and shook the bottle over my head.

“Any word yet on the potty break?” I said sounding like Ward Cleaver.

After checking with my holding officer who was in an undisclosed location at the time the other agent instructed me to use the bathroom within the customs area. I was given a foot long red plastic square with the words “BATHROOM PASS” on it to take with me to the lavatory.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My welcoming committee to the US part II

I was instructed to collect my luggage from the carousel and bring it to a table and to include all of my carry on and items on my person. This area was in plain view of the baggage carousels and a general holding area for those being singled out by customs. I asked Officer T if there was anyway I could make my connecting flight to Tucson in an hour and he said that I wouldn't be making my plane.

Can I make a phone call to my folks to tell them I won't be making my flight.”

We'll see,” he said.

The two officers began removing the contents of my bags and separating clothing from papers and any electronic and optical media.

The other officer asked me a question as he opened the camera case. “What religion are you?”

I'm a Muslim,” I said.

Did you go to any religious schools when you were there?”

I sarcastically replied “Of course.”

Oh boy,” he sighed. After this comment the officer was called away by another officer and I never saw him again.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

My welcoming committee to the US

As some of you already know, my arrival from Iran to the US was quite an encounter. Now that I feel safer about telling the story I will release it to you.

On 1/13/08 I was exiting Air France 0388 from Paris to Atlanta at 3:45pm. Upon exiting the aircraft into the jet way I noticed that there were two homeland security officers in uniform checking passports. I found this odd considering my last international flight had no such passport check before the customs line. One of the officers, who I will call Officer T, was a tall white man with a military haircut. The other, who I will call Officer C, was a man who resembled Tone Loc with a police uniform on. After looking at my passport Officer T looked over to the other officer and told me to follow them into an elevator which went directly to the customs baggage claim area. Both officers stopped checking passports and accompanied me in the elevator. During this time my passport stayed in their hands. The other officer inquired as to what the contents of my metal case carry on was.

“A camera. I'm a film student.”

He followed that response with “Oh yea? Have you ever seen that movie The Kingdom” in a semi threatening tone.

I replied, “No.”

To be continued...

Monday, February 04, 2008

this news is good news

From what I hear I will be getting a call from the feds this week about my film.  I wonder if they took notes I can use for editing.  (sarcastic LOL)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

one lawyer closer

One lawyer closer to getting this situation handled. Unfortunately for me the law doesn't apply to certain people.

More later.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

waiting for..

5 weeks of footage
Months of research
Now I'm waiting for a phone call.
If I don't get that phone call you will learn more about what I'm talking about.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Propaganda at its worst

If you haven't heard yet, tiny speedboats can "threaten" huge American warships. I smelled hoax immediately when I read this story. Unfortunately the international press picked up this story and went to town without any critical commentary of such a ludicrous idea. I'm glad that I am far from the broadcasts of Fox News who were probably designing a new animated title for the "Battle of Hormuz."

Let's see some more theatrics like we saw at the UN in 2003 with the "satellite images" of nuclear- WMD- terrorism pie ovens.

It's really cold here.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Preparing for Moharram

Tehran is preparing for the annual commemoration of Moharram. Many bazaar shops are selling banners, flags, posters, and other items referencing Imam Husayn. The colorful feathers and shields are designed to be fit on large alams and displayed on the street. The appendages of the alam are meant to represent the heads of the Imam and his followers which were placed on the tops of spears after the battle and paraded to Syria. The alam is generally operated by someone from a Zurkhane who can lift such a huge device.

Friday, January 04, 2008


We have shot at 4 different zurkhanes in the last week. Every time we go to a new place we are invited to another. I have been learning the different styles and training along with the regulars at each of them. Morshed Hamid and Omid's wife's uncle, Daie Husayn, have been my trainers. Shooting in these spaces is a major challenge and not being behind the camera for the majority is a bit stressful.

Tehran vs Mashad

Monday night was the madness. Upon arriving to the gym about 10 bboys from Mashad came to practice. The obvious battle ensued, Tehran vs. Mashad. I'll give it to some of the Mashadi guys for being on the beat more and a few of them have some footwork but for the most part Tehran's power and blowups overpowered them. I was excited to be a part of the battle with the Tehran team. After the battle we talked about forming a national team composed of bboys from both sides to train for BOTY and IBE. The sports federation here will sponsor the team if we can get our act together.

Me and the Mashadis.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Shooting in Tehran

Shooting in Tehran has been challenging but exciting to say the least. Our camera operator, Agha Valadkhani, is amazing and has worked on some serious shoots here in Iran. In addition is mustache is cooler than most people's lives. We acquired an official liaison, Agha Sayfi, who has been tagging along for the last few days. Our days have been packed with locations. Between shooting all of the city footage, working out in the zurkhane, and bboying my body is quite upset with me. Unfortunately, I officially ran out of Advil this morning :(.