Sunday, December 06, 2009

A Stroll Through The Tenderloin

ten·der·loin (tender-loin)
n.

1. The tenderest part of a loin of beef, pork, or similar cut of meat.
2. A city district notorious for vice and graft.









Thursday, October 29, 2009

Holiest of Things

photo by David Gilkey/NPR

I commissioned this poem in 2004 for a video I did about children in Palestine. A friend of mine who I had been blessed to meet named Samer Tamimi is an amazing poet who is originally Palestinian. His poem is what remains from the project.

Download and share.
(Right click --> Save target as)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The RZA and Hip Hop Spirituality



I had become a fan of the Wu-Tang Clan when I was fairly young, hearing "Protect Ya Neck" on the radio in the early/mid 90s after the release of their first album. A few Wu-Tang songs circulated on the homemade mix tapes my older brother made from the radio that I listened to, years before I even purchased a Wu Tang album. By 97 and the arrival of the second Wu-Tang album, "Forever" I was all ears. Since getting my dad to drive me to a Sam Goody after school was way out of the question, a friend of mine bought the CD for me the day it came out. I listened to the album in one session and it left me rapping the lyrics for years to come in addition to asking a lot of questions about the world.

When I heard the opening verse from "Impossible" it left me searching for more..
Fusion of the five elements, to search for the higher intelligence
Women walk around celibate, livin irrelevant
The most benevolent king, communicatin through your dreams
Mental pictures been painted, Allah's heard and seen
everywhere, throughout your surroundin atmosphere
Troposphere, thermosphere, stratosphere
Can you imagine from one single idea, everything appeared here
Understanding makes my truth, crystal clear...
The RZA's lyrical career is by no means one that is squeeky clean nor void of hypocrisies and contradictions. In fact, RZA's use 5 Percenter teachings generally tunes me out of his philosophy. However, his verses have generally served as encouragement for his community and his listeners to seek knowledge, read, expand their vocabulary and to calculate actions, seeing life as a chessboard.

RZA's new book looks like an interesting read but more importantly, books authored within the hip hop community, though rare, reach an audience that may have never picked up a book. The desire for knowledge is shared by all people, but without credibility in the culture of the audience, words will fail to stick.

RZA's humility in the above video is commendable for a rap artist and he has definitely sparked my attention as he did before in 97. I look forward to reading The Tao of Wu.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Open Indie May Bring Bucks Back To Filmmakers



Indie filmmakers who choose to distribute their work on their own (like myself) are at a serious disadvantage relative to films with high end distribution. On the other hand, audience opportunity to interact with filmmakers and artists as well as hold screenings of indie movies are much better than films distributed by a third party.

OpenIndie.com is an opportunity for indie film audiences to find movies they want to see and/or screen, and be informed about showings in their area, all while the filmmaker has a chance to benefit financially from each viewer.

As much as the internet has democratized cinema, image makers are still searching for ways to monetize their content in a way that stays accessible to the internet audience. Open Indie may be part of the answer... we'll see.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Maz Jobrani's Message About Warring Factions



If you want to support an independent film like Warring Factions you
can do a few things.

1. Spread the word. Write a blog, make a phone call, send an email,
tweet, text message, and/or carrier pigeon to your friends about the
movie. Additionally, I have started a Facebook event publicizing the
release here [Link]

2. Buy the DVD. Downloading the film is great but having the DVD is
much better for sharing and holding screenings for communities and
friends. The DVD also includes features which are not included when
you download the film. When you buy the DVD be sure to donate at
least another $10 to help with future projects.

3. Donate. Films are expensive to produce but documentaries that have
a message should be made to inspire change and not to make profits..
To make future films I rely on the people to support my efforts
financially. Just as mainstream movies are financed by large
conglomerated companies, my films are made with the support of many
people who want to do their part in voicing for change.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Remember Election Day?

So on my way leaving the polling place for the Iranian presidential elections I saw this fun little bunch protesting outside. This particular lady cursed at me and called me an "akhoond" (another word for a mullah) so I took a picture of her. I guess my beard was longer that day : /


Funny thing is, I still see these people standing on the corner Veteran and Wilshire wasting their time holding "Where is my vote?" signs. Irony.

Dear crazy people on both sides,
Please stay at home watching Persian satellite, the rest of us are going to try to move forward from this election and learn from what happened. In the meantime let's stop locking up and getting locked up, it will be good for everyone.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

It's Been A Long While


As you may have noticed the frequency of my posts diminishing, I should explain for myself... I am still alive but have been working on a variety of different projects that sometimes my own wife can't keep up with...

A few upcoming things you should look out for...

My coverage of Freestyle Session 12 on Dipdive... sure to be the hotness so keep checking for it.

The release of Warring Factions on DVD... I'm not giving a concrete date but I'm aiming for Eid time (end of Ramadhan).
........................................................................................

In the meantime, here's a message to take home:

Act like you know better, because you do.
Tell the truth and shame the devil.
Don't be afraid of the truth but be aware of the consequences.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mujahideen Email Recruiting and Another Visit By DHS


I recently received an message on my personal email address reading...
"I am an Engineer and Scientist with the Mujahideen Forces in Afghanistan.

I have a financial proposition that will benefit both of us greatly and if interested do indicate by replying for more directives.


Eng.Mohammad Fadhil."

FYI to the Feds... If you want to email prospective jihadis you may at least want to Salaam a brother.

Maybe not so coincidentally, this email was received one day before I was stopped (again) by the homies at Homeland Security in Seattle doing a "follow up" interview regarding my 2008 stay in Iran and the subsequent detention in Atlanta.

Since I visited Canada for less than 5 hours on an Alaskan cruise my name had to be processed by DHS. Due to my federal celebrity status I was flagged for an "examination" and a detailed search of my and my wife's belongings.

I would rate this last run in with Homeland a 7 whereas my last experience in Atlanta was closer to a 2. This time we were able to request a female agent to search my wife's luggage and were free to use the bathroom. We were even offered a small continental breakfast which was really the typical cop doughnut breakfast. The whole ordeal lasted a little longer than 2 hours from the time I was woken up in our stateroom to be interviewed till the officer hailing us a cab outside the port.

I hope this last run-in with DHS proves to them that they are wasting time and resources by interviewing me every time I re-enter the US.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Islamist Crazies Alive and Well on the Internet



I found this video via Views From The Occident. The video is a type of eulogy for Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, a militant Salafi terrorist who was killed by a US airstrike in 2006 and demonstrates the fact that Salafi terrorists are still around and have added tacky video editing as a part of their training. Iraq's recent resurgence of violence has been alarming as well as disheartening to see that Iraq's sovereignty looks lengths away from the foreseeable future.

The militant Salafist movements of Iraq are still strong despite a reduction in violence from 2006 and 2007. Reasons for this include the vast numbers of Sunni Iraqi's disenfranchised by the US invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the unlimited supply of radical Sunni extremists living everywhere from Kashhmir to London. This not so efficient network of radical Salifis provides moral and/or financial support to similar groups in conflict zones (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc).

The US military's current strategy is building alliances with Sunni tribes to combat Salafi terrorist groups from the community level and cutting off their recruitment base. However effective these efforts may be in the short run, a long term solution can only be provided by the global Muslim community itself. Salafi strategies of financing Islamic mosques and dawa with the condition that it be headed with Salafi ideology creates an incredible base of Muslims who are complacent to Salafi violence around the world. Not until the dangers of militant Salafism/Wahabism becomes a major discourse in the global Muslim community will there be a significant reduction in the global networks of Islamist terrorists.

Related Reading
Is Iraq Sliding Back Into Chaos?
Frontline Analaysis of Wahabism
The Decline of Knowledge and the Rise of Ideology in the Modern Islamic World

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

There's No Going Back


The controversy surrounding the Iranian presidential election has not only done damage to Iran but has also polarized the Shia community abroad on the issue. Iranian nationals within the Muslim community have either recognized the election results as legitimate, sided with the Supreme Leader's decision to end any probing into election fraud, or have voiced discontent with the regime's unwillingness to investigate the election results.

As demonstrations in Los Angeles have attracted majorly those who would not identify with the values of the Islamic Republic (most protesters don't even use the current flag of Iran when demonstrating), those identifying with those values have debated the outcome of the election fiercely.

Those defending the legitimacy of the election have sited the disconnection of the liberal "elite" from the masses of Iranians outside of Tehran as the cause of mass protests and an overall attitude of being sore losers in the election. In addition, Iranian voices of opposition have been dismissed by this group as supporting foreign enemies (Mossad, MKO, CIA, etc) bent on the collapse of the Islamic Republic. For some this may be a class conflict but when it comes down to it, is a question of transparency.

Iranians voicing their criticism of the elections have been harshly criticized by even non-Iranians who admire the institution of the IRI and intend on doing their part in what they feel is upholding the Islamic Republic and/or their loyalty to a Marja Taqlid.

Iranians who have aligned themselves with their government in the past and are now questioning its methods have seen this election as the breaking point for their trust in their leaders. The widespread media censorship, communication lockdown, police/ Basij/ military brutality against civilians has eroded the trust of Iranian nationals for their government.

At this point, I believe that some Mousavi supporters would have preferred Ahmadinejad to have won the election fairly and transparently rather than the current situation which has spiraled out of control on both sides. However, we find ourselves at the point of no return and there is no easy solution to all of this, so let's stop acting like the answer is going to come from out of the sky.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Where is the order?


At present Iran is in unrest. The mass reactions of the elections are that of dismay and those who feel they have been disfranchised and stripped of their voice have taken to the street. I have not been relying on one source of news media for my information about the election aftermath, rather a network of personal contacts in Iran, blogs, Twitter, and media coming directly from the streets.

Some have claimed this unrest is at its heart a struggle between Rafsanjani and Iran's Supreme Leader, Seyed Ali Khamenei, while many have been saying that the final numbers were a blatant robbery of the election because a Mousavi victory would skew the vision of the current regime.




Whatever be the case, the type of violence and unrest seen in Iran at the moment has the potential to be a huge step backward for establishing a legitimacy for the Islamic Republic and may eventually be a death sentence for the nation. The blocking of SMS messaging, limiting Internet access, filtering social media and the charade of state broadcast media has given Iranians and the rest of the world the image that Iran is insecure and willing to go great unethical lengths to keep their population quiet. Enemies of Iran will (and I'm sure already have) use this unrest for their own agendas, however, if allegations of voter fraud are false, then there is no harm in seeing the ballots and having an observed recount.

Related Reading:
Polls Before Elections
New Unrest is a Coup
Rejecting Charges of the Northern Tehran Fallacy
Stealing the Election
Report Purporting to Show Rigged Elections Flawed

Friday, June 12, 2009

Election Day is Here





I write you as I walk out of the door to vote in the 1388 elections in Los Angeles. A lot of the young Iranians I know have been excited to participate this year and have been active in viewing the presidential debates as well as reading about the candidates and their policies. It's unfortunate that there seems to be anti Islamic Republic demonstrators at the polling places in Los Angeles. Of all days and places, they choose to protest at polling places. Very counter productive if you ask me.

After a few phone calls with family in Tehran, it seems Iran is the right climate for massive participation. The current economic downturn, inflation, and sentiments of those who have felt imposed on by harsh morality enforcement, all have combined factors in this years increased participation in the presidential elections.

I'll refrain from posting speculative reports of which of the candidates is ahead in the polls. We'll have to see what happens tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wifey Gets A Blog


I'm glad to say that my wife Fatemeh has started a blog. She is an amazingly talented author, poet, and person who I will spend the rest of my life with, God willing. As a filmmaker who tends to make personal work, you will undoubtedly be seeing more of her in my work and more of me in hers. I hope you enjoy her as much as I do.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Pope is Not A Celebrity Endorsement Deal

In response to this, I would have to say that this is one of the more shameless acts in Israeli politics. While the hype regarding the Pope's "controversial" visit to Israel has been generally focused on whether the Pope has anti-Jewish sentiments, Netanyahu has tried to use the Pope's visit as an endorsement for Israel while Christian Arabs are treated as second class citizens. Netanyahu feels he can use the leverage of Pope Benedict XVI's Nazi German youth past to get a condemnation of Iran for it's "destructive" intentions and statements. Netanyahu's attempt to incite a new crusade against Iran has no rules or boundaries.

The Pope's visit to Israel could do a lot to bring international attention to the Palestinian plight but unfortunately is doing little for anyone in the region.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Noor Film Festival Screening Recap


It's been over a week since the screening at Noor and I am finally getting around to writing about it. My film screened on a Saturday afternoon and in true "Persian" fashion, 70% of the audience was 20 minutes late. I'm glad that my film was preceded by a 20 minute short.

Overall, audience reaction was by far better than any other screening. Every scene of nuanced humor, emotion, or frustration was followed by laughter and/or applause. I think the best received scene was that which Iranian bboy Hossein Battle is speaking about Iran- US relations. In the film Hossein mentions that "the US is not our big brother or cousin to tell us what do do," after which the whole audience hooted and applauded his comment. Regardless of Iranians varying opinions on Iran's current regime, the vast majority believes in an Iran that is sovereign and independent from the West in its decision making.


After the screening I was honored to hear such positive feedback from Reza Badiyi who has achieved a lot in the industry, especially as an Iranian-American. His feedback, more than anyone else at the festival meant a lot. Also, in attending the festival I was happy to meet Faramarz K Rahber who directed Donkey in Lahore and won 3 awards at the festival including Best Director. It meant a great deal to hear the filmmaker who won Best Director saying my film was his favorite in the festival.

The next day during the award ceremony Warring Factions was nominated for Best Documentary and Best Story/Idea. I was honored to be nominated at the festival and I sincerely thank everyone who passed out fliers, sent facebook messages, and told friends about the screening and the film. This festival has opened up a few more doors for the film and I hope to be screening again in LA since I was approached by so many people asking when the next showing was.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

LA Premiere... Less Than One Week Away


After a lot of planning and hard work it seems my film is finally playing in LA. As exciting as the screening in NY was, this upcoming screening at Noor Film Festival on May 2nd holds a special place.

Noor is one of the only Iranian film festival in the US. Considering my film is concerning Iran, it is appropriate to be seen by an Iranian audience and can definitely be appreciated by young Iranian American viewers.

My work on the film up and my challenges in getting it made, including becoming a terror suspect along the way, has lead up to this screening in LA. My plans for my next steps are unsure, but I recognize that this is a new world we live in which requires a new strategy to spread the hope of reconciliation.

I won't do my big reveal until later, but know that what I do will be surprising but more effective than the traditional path, God willing.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Wackest Obama Move Yet



Obama Exempts CIA Torture Staff
When we don't hold people accountable for their actions we are no better than dogs..

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Same Stuff Different Headline

Bloomberg says: Iran Sanctions Would Be Frozen By U.S. for Talks, Envoys Say

Upon actually reading the article I found this crucial sentence... "The Obama administration won’t impose additional sanctions on Iran if it freezes nuclear development work and joins talks over the future of its program"

In other news, Iran clones the first goat in the Middle East.. take that Arab states!


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Iran Nears Final Stages of Nuclear Fuel Cycle


All of this amidst talks of more negotiations... it's going to be a long week.

Shias In The Gulf React To Discrimination


Shias (Shiites) in Eastern Saudi Arabia have always suffered repression and discrimination in their country in addition to the millions of Shias who are discriminated against as visiting pilgrims to holy sites. Sheikh Nimr, a Shia leader in Saudi, public declared for the secession of the Shia majority eastern portion of the country. Sheikh Nimr made the declaration in February shortly after serious violence between Saudi religious police and Shia pilgrims in the holy city of Medina.



New statements from Shia leaders denouncing the calls to secede have been labeled by some as an act of complacency to the discrimination of Shias in Saudi. Even though I disagree on the notion that the eastern province should secede, I agree that these types of statements are a detriment to any serious progressive dialogue on the issue of discrimination.



Additionally, I resent the fact that NPR falls for the rhetoric that accuses Iran of using Shia-Sunni tensions as a way to increase their influence in the region. Iranian nationalists who dream of having Bahrain as Iranian territory again are out of touch with reality and do not represent the nation. It is possible for Shias to be upset about something without Iran's influence. Just ask Shias in Iraq who have a variety of political viewpoints, many of which have no desire to form a super-Shia state with Iran.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Iran Delegate Criticizes Afghanistan Troop Surge

At a Hague meeting on Afghanistan attended by US's Richard Holbrooke and Iranian representative Mohammad Mehdi Akhoondzadeh, the Iranian rep stated that, "the presence of foreign forces has not improved things in the country, and it seems than an increase in the number of foreign forces will prove ineffective." The delegate added that resources should be focused on building Afghanistan's military forces.

Mr. Akhoondzadeh also mentioned Iran's willingness to combat drug trafficking and reconstructing Afghanistan's infastructure. Afghanistan's drug problem has shown to be Iran's problem as well. Iranian officials say the drug war has cost their nation over $600 million in the last two years. Drug clashes have claimed 3,700 Iranian security officials and injured 11,000 in more than 12,000 clashes between traffickers and police officers between 1989 and 2003, according to Iranian statistics cited in a UN report.

Is an Iranian Nuclear Option Good For The Middle East?


Haneen Zubai, elected representative of an Arab party to the Knesset has welcomed Iran's alleged quest for a nuclear weapon as a means of providing a balance to Israel's regional military domination.

Not that I believe that Iran is developing nukes but I'm sure the Knesset had to pick their jaws off the ground after reading Ms. Zubai's interview.

Shuruq Festival Screening Recap


Shuruq Festival screening this last Wednesday went very well. Much thanks to Amel and Ayman for making things happen. We filled the room out despite fears of campus security interupting the over capacitated festivities.


Question and answer was predominatley questions about my incident with Homeland Security and bboys in Iran. It would be great for Hossein Battle from the film come to screenings to speak about breakin in Iran but we'll see who from Iran we can bring for the next big screening.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Obama Nowruz Message?


Earlier today I said to myself, "Man it would be a good idea for Obama to make mention of Nowruz or call up President Ahmadinejad and wish him a happy new year."

1/2 of those things actually happened! UNPRECEDENTED and WELL DONE!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Haft Seen


S
tarting the new year with positive energy and productivity is often challenging, but it's a must.

Seeing as I will be in NY this time next week I'm excited to attend Shuruq.

Starting my life in Los Angeles has been a big change from my life in Tucson. I miss my friends but I'm glad my parents have followed me here.

Stress can kill.. I sincerely believe that.

Some things in cannot be presented literally. It won't speak to the heart.

Strength of the heart does not necessitate strength of the mind.

Struggles of the past will always resurface in the present.

Miranda July Lectures on Art.Cult

After finishing this Miranda July lecture I wanted to start writing up a storm. Her talent is amazing and incredibly natural.

“you’re not as bad as you think you are but you’re not as good either.”

Monday, March 16, 2009

US downs Iran drone. Khatami drops out of race.

US jet fighters have shot down an unmanned aircraft in Iraqi airspace. This is one of the first of reported military actions during the relative silence of allegations that Iran has been intervening in Iraqi affairs.

Former President Seyed Mohammad Khatami drops out of race. There are reports he will back former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi. Mr. Mousavi was prime minister of Iran during the 1980's, and was reportedly a close confidante to Ayatollah Khomeini.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Colbert's Non Consensual Iranian Suit Endorsement



This speaks for itself. Big ups to the Colbert Report research team.

FBI Shoots Itself in the Foot with Muslim Americans


My experience with the feds isn't the brightest of paintings but don't take it from me... This article sheds a lot on the current landscape of the relationship of the Muslim American community and American intelligence agencies.
In 2007, Niazi reported suspicious behavior by a new Muslim convert in his mosque, who he said was talking about jihad and suggested planning a terrorist attack in conversations with others at the Islamic Center of Irvine. He and a mosque official filed a report with the Los Angeles field office of the FBI. The FBI then told mosque officials that they were investigating the matter, and the mosque successfully got a three-year restraining order against the individual.

Niazi reported that FBI officials later contacted him to ask him to be a paid informant. When he refused, he said they threatened to make his life "a living hell." Niazi was arrested last week on charges related to lying on his immigration documents and was released yesterday on $500,000 bail.

[Read more]

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fighting Addiction With Varzesh Bastani



I came across this video on YouTube about a program in Tehran that uses Varzesh Bastani as a way to rehabilitate drug users. The man who is speaking in the clip, Reza Rezai, wears a t-shirt that reads "Always Exercise, Never Become An Addict" and mentions briefly that Varzesh Bastani is not only a physical exercise but a conditioning of the spirit. Mr. Rezai also goes on to speak about family and upbringing in staying away from drugs but I want to focus on his previous statement.

Just as drug addiction is a physical illness, it is also a spiritual deficiency that needs to be replenished. Varzesh Bastani, or "the exercise of heroes" has a strong theme of spiritual unity that can be derived from the multitude of rhythms and vocals performed by the "morshed." Just as the trainer transitions from each physical exercise he is driven and inspired by the morshed's lyrics and rhythm.

In my limited experience with those who abuse drugs, their initial problem which leads them to drug use is generally a feeling of having no purpose and a spiritual void. Both physical and spiritual exercise can have a profound effect on those who abuse drugs or who are at risk. I'm unsure if this program is still active in Iran but I hope it is still alive and well.

Good Lord


When I saw Brother Ali in 2002 opening for Slug in Tucson I never thought he would become one of my favorite rappers. I was way wrong.

Good Lord indeed

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Gaza is a "Closed Zone"


Yoni Goodman, the Israeli director of Academy Award nominated Waltz with Bashir created the short animated film Closed Zone to make a statement about the plight of Gaza's civilians.

I applaud him for making this given the obvious consequences of making such a film as a an Israeli and a Jew.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Media Plays Iranian Nuke Scare

The media games continue in covering Iran's nuclear ambitions. I was alarmed to see this floating at the top stories today before the rebuttal from Defense Secretary Robert Gates was included in the story. With all of this coverage on Iran and nuclear capabilities, why is it so rare that we see a mainstream broadcast media channel actually speak in depth about what building a nuclear weapon actually entails? Probably the same reason so few media outlets did critical reporting on Iraq's weapons prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

[Read up here]

In other Iran hype....

Annette Bening attempts to mend US-Iran ties


Iranian-American journalist jailed

Islamic Finance Laughing All The Way To The Bank

"Islamic financial institutions, he said, had not been hit as hard as their western counterparts because they did not invest in toxic assets.

Banks run in accordance with Muslims laws on interest payments and the sharing of credit risks are seen by many as fairer than traditional banks, less focused on profit and kinder to the communities they work in."

One can't help but laugh at a world that consistently insults the Islam as a backward religion and savage culture and then takes a lesson from that same tradition in the form of finance. Let's not forget that modern mathematics, chemistry, physics, biology, and medicine were all revolutionized by the Muslim world when the West was just poking around in the dirt. Muslims may have their fair share amount of problems but we still have things to contribute to those who wish to listen.

[read more]

Excited About TV?



I've been looking forward to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon for about a month since I've been following the blog. I'm not a huge fan of Fallon but I would tune in (or at least check the site) often to see the Roots.

Jimmy is taking TV to the next level incorporating social media into the show more than ever before. This is the first time I've been excited for TV in a while.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

NYU Screening March 25th -- PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Amel Ahmed
email: Amel.Ahmed (at) gmail.com
phone: 718-613-9779

Justin Mashouf
WarringFactions.com
487 S Ogden Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Phone: 520-245-6079
http://WarringFactions.com
js.mashouf (at) gmail.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Iranian-American Terror Suspect To Screen Iran Film at NYU
New York, NY -- March 25, 2009 -- Muslim-American filmmaker Justin Mashouf will be screening his feature documentary, "Warring Factions," on March 25th as a part of the annual New York University Shuruq Festival. 24 year old Mashouf will be screening the 70 minute documentary in addition to speaking about his experiences in Iran, his detention by Homeland Security and the confiscation of his video footage on suspicion of terrorism.

"Warring Factions" is Mashouf's first feature length documentary. Filming began in April 2007, capturing his experiences as a multi-ethnic Iranian American exploring his Muslim identity in a post 9/11 world. In the wake of rising international tensions, he is cornered into answering the question, "Where is your loyalty, America or Iran?" Shot in both countries, Mashouf's journey throughout the film uses his love for break dancing as a way of bridging an American culture with Iranian youth. Additionally, he becomes a student of the traditional Iranian martial art of "Varzesh Bastani" and seeks to understand the sentiments of the religious conservative generation of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.
As voices in the Obama administration deliberate their official Iran policy and media outlets have fueled the perception of a nuclear standoff, "Warring Factions" is a call to (dis)arms. By combining documentary and studio reenactments, Mashouf looks at the blurring of world borders, and the looming threat of another war in the Middle East.

WEDNESDAY MARCH 25, 2009 AT 7:30PM

Where: Annual New York University Shuruq Festival
245 Sullivan Street
Furman Hall, room 214
(Furman Hall is located at 245 Sullivan Street, between Washington Square South and West Third Street. It is two blocks east of the West Fourth subway station (A,C, E, B, D, F and V lines). Minetta Parking is the nearest parking facility (122 W. 3rd St. between 6th Avenue and MacDougal St., 212-777-3530), however here is a link to additional nearby parking garages: http://www.nyu.edu/about/parking.html )


When: Wednesday March 25, 2009. 7:30pm

Justin will be available for interviews in New York City from March 23rd till March 30th

Contact:
Amel Ahmed
Amel.Ahmed (at) gmail.com
phone: 718-613-9779

Justin Mashouf
js.mashouf (at) gmail.com
Phone: 520-245-6079


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Removing the Silence on Domestic Violence


I saw this today after I heard Sheikh Hamza Yusuf on NPR speaking about the recent beheading of the wife of the founder of Muslim TV station Bridges TV. The sermon itself is nothing new to be heard in Islam however, domestic violence in Muslim societies are plagued by cultural baggage and backward traditions that sometimes masks themselves as "Islam."

Sheikh Hamza's talk on NPR breaks it down fairly well in terms of cultures that will avoid "shame" by any means necessary, which is a dangerous and destructive behavior.

The dialogue is ongoing and needs to keep rolling.

A Music Video Worth Watching?


A++ from me for sure. I'm sure much of my having gone into film was from the hundreds of music videos I watched as a kid but to be honest, most music videos I see now are quite wack. Now that the main venue of distribution for music video is the internet, there is a loss of replay value like that of videos in the 90s. I remember slamming tapes into the VCR as fast as possible to record my favorite videos as they came on. It was unpredictable when the video would play so there was a constant checking of the channels waiting for that moment.

Now that music videos are readily available and are being made by every other YouTube user it is rare that one stands out enough to want to watch the whole thing and/or share with others. This is definitely one of the exceptions.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bank Bailout Party Fund


This article made me so furious, I just about put all my savings in my mattress. This kind of irresponsible behavior should not be tolerated from a company that should be nationalized at this point.

.read more.

Hoochie music makes more hoochies?

"Listening to music with degrading sexual lyrics could prompt teenagers to start having sex at an earlier age, a US study suggests."

Why am I not surprised?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Big Time Busy


So it looks like Warring Factions will be screening at NYU in late March, God willing. The date is confirmed for March 25th so stay tuned for more news.

In the meantime check out some of my recent random reading materials.

Should All War Criminals Be Brought To Justice?


Is Google Making Us Stupid?

Iranian Music: An Unexplored Territory

Analyzing Visual Medias

Siftables Rock

Monday, February 02, 2009

Propaganda Before Our Feature Presentation



I saw this at the theater before seeing Slumdog Millionare Saturday night. I must say I lost my lunch a bit and couldn't help but heckling. I'm glad the theater was mostly comprised of South Asians.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Turkish PM Calls Peres On His Nonsense


It's good to see someone like Tayyip Erdogan calling out Peres on the crimes of his nation. Now if there were another dozen leaders willing to do the same, the blank check to violate human rights wouldn't look so appealing.

Experimental Bboying Forum: Free and Paranoid Android





I stumbled upon this forum earlier today at work. PA had told me about this forum when he went to IBE last year but I never got to see it until now. Paranoid Android was a big name in Arizona bboying from about 2004-2006 and influenced a whole generation of bboys from AZ and California. In 2003 that PA was training Law and was the brains of Circus Runaways. I was working at a high school at the time and I had them all over for a late night practice.

PA always had a mixed reputation in Arizona but I've always respected him for his contributions to bboying and taking the time to actually articulate his ideas to people.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Obama Inauguration and Gaza Ceasefire


Tomorrow is the beginning of a "New Day" in America's history. One cannot help but observe the public hope of change, however, I hope this word is not only remembered as a catchy campaign slogan of another American president unwilling to reverse the tide of destruction that has plagued American policy for years.

On the rolling credits of the worst American presidency in history Obama's challenges ahead of him are countless. Nevertheless, the American public must stay vigilante in never allowing such a flagrant disregard for international law and human rights in addition to blatant war profiteering and corporate favoritism.

Obama is being inaugurated on the funeral pyre of Gaza and the broken pieces of hope for reconciliation of Palestinians and Israelis. This ceasefire may mark a temporary halt in bombings but the violence of a destroyed Gaza still yields the smell of charred victims trapped in the rubble. Israel's goals to defeat or weaken Hamas has been lost as millions of Arabs and Muslims around the wold have been further motivated to acts of irrationality against Israel and the West. Obama's silence during the mercilless asault on Gaza has hinted to confirm the fears of "Other people" who suspected Obama would be just another player in a game they are not invited to and are not included in the rule book.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Gaza Update

GAZA IN CRISIS: THE MEDIA SHUTOUT
A teleconference/ podcast Sponsored by the Arab and Middle Eastern Journalist Association (AMEJA)




Israeli forces shell UN headquarters in Gaza


"GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip January 15, 2009, 04:20 pm ET · Israel shelled the United Nations headquarters in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, engulfing the compound and a warehouse in fire and destroying thousands of pounds of food and humanitarian supplies intended for Palestinian refugees."


"U.N. officials said the shells that hit the compound contained white phosphorus, which is believed to have been responsible for burns suffered by some Palestinian civilians during the war."

Foreign Press Urges Israel Boycott
"JERUSALEM (AFP) — The Foreign Press Association on Thursday urged its members to boycott Israeli army photos and video footage to protest at the shelling of a media building in Gaza City that wounded two cameramen."

What Does Web 2.0 Have To Do With Gaza?
"And since Israel barred all journalists from entering Gaza, the media and public have largely relied on non-traditional sources for information about the growing crisis. Traffic to the online magazine Electronic Intifada (EI) - whose contributions come from journalists, academics, humanitarian workers and activists on a pro-bono basis - has more than doubled in two weeks."

Greeks Prevent Arms Shipment To Israel


"WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US military has to had to cancel a planned shipment of munitions from a Greek port to a US warehouse in Israel due to objections from Athens, a Pentagon spokesman said on Tuesday."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Dr. Mossadegh Sits Down With Mashouf


Moharram in Downtown Los Angeles




The Moharram procession in downtown LA are an interesting cultural phenomenon. The mostly South Asian attended and organized event happens every year near Broadway and 6th and attracts Shias from around Southern California. In the two years I have attended there has been a large turnout of people from over a wide range of ethnicities including Indian, Pakistani, Iranian, Afghani, Iraqi, and Lebanese all reciting "noha" or lamentations in their own languages and traditions.

In comparison, the Los Angeles procession is much smaller to the New York City version, which has been going for over 20 years. This year in New York, a friend of mine let me know that there was the largest English component to the procession to date. This development of a unique movement of English "azadari" mourning traditions is a transition to an organic religious culture of the English speaking West. The shift is a much needed advance for second and third generation Shias who are shying away from the languages of their immigrant parents.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Commemoration Of A Timeless Battle



Latest images from the city of Karbala, Iraq for the commemoration (not celebration) of the events of Ashura.

This time of year has always been a time of self reflection and striving with great effort to contribute to the commemoration in my own way. Now living in California in addition to no longer being a student, I deeply appreciate those times I spent every night in a small crowded house of people to lament the events that took place in Karbala.

This Moharram has been a drought in comparison to previous years. Time has been short and programs have been far away. I feel like the expression of Moharram fulfills a thirst of the heart that cannot be quenched by anything else. My hope is that by this time next year I will be working on my Ashura project again since I started it 4 years ago.

Norwegian Doctor Reports From Gaza




When will this madness stop? When will the world be content with the amount of destruction inflicted?