Come to the Levantine café on a Saturday night and enjoy a lively evening of storytelling and passionate conversation, when six writers from diverse Iranian/Iranian American backgrounds come together in the spirit of entente. A new anthology represents an important step in the evolution of Iranian American writing, and offers a bridge between two countries whose governments are engaged in a cold war. Following the popular film Argo which has had an injurious affect on US-Iranian relations (as if they weren't bad enough already), the Levantine Cultural Center will present authors Gina Nahai, Ari Siletz, Zohreh Ghahremani, Shideh Etaat and the two editors of Tremors, Anita Amirrezvani and Persis Karim, reading from the anthology. This program presented by the Levantine Cultural Center and the Friends of the West Hollywood Library. Listen to a KQED podcast.
[Los Angeles—MAR. 20, 2013] Entering into the Persian New Year, the Levantine Cultural Center presents a masterpiece, Shahnameh: The Epic of the Persian Kings, a new illustrated edition of the classic work by the great 11th-century Persian poet Abolqasem Ferdowsi. Created by award-winning graphic artist and filmmaker Hamid Rahmanian, this new prose translation of the national epic is illuminated with over 500 pages of illustrations. Rahmanian will share images and text from the book as well as discuss the continued relevance of this powerful classic for a new generation of readers.
This show is seriously funny. If you love to laugh, if you need to laugh, you'll dig the Sultans of Satire with its satirical insights and fresh perspectives on American and Middle Eastern life. The revolving cast features Marie-Thérèse Abou-Daoud, Omar Elba, Nöel Elgrably, Amir K., Sheno Khal and Mona Shaikh. The Sultans of Satire is the longest-running Middle Eastern stand-up comedy show in the U.S. Features some of the best young stand-up comedians today who just happen to be of Arab, Lebanese, Palestinian, Egyptian, Iranian and Moroccan heritage from diverse faiths. Tickets/info 323.413.2001. Watch video clips at sultansofsatire.com.
Entering into the Persian New Year, the Levantine Cultural Center presents a masterpiece, Shahnameh: The Epic of the Persian Kings, a new illustrated edition of the classic work by the great 11th-century Persian poet Abolqasem Ferdowsi. This new prose translation of the national epic is illuminated with over 500 pages of illustrations, created by award-winning graphic artist and filmmaker Hamid Rahmanian. The spectacular images in this edition were created from elements culled from thousands of illuminated manuscripts, lithographs, and miniatures dating from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries: each page is a new work of art and exquisite collage of traditional forms. Translated and adapted by Ahmad Sadri, this new edition retells the mythological and epic stories of the original poem in prose format. This event features santoor maestro Hamid Saeidi, and is cosponsored in part by Robert Reza Amin.
To celebrate the month of March and the advent of the Persian New Year or Nowruz, the Levantine Cultural Center presents two feature-length documetaries from 2012 that celebrate the Iranian people. The Green Wave, directed by Ali Samadi Ahadi and distributed in the U.S. by Red Flag Releasing, is a powerful political film that reveals what happened during the 2009 election protests, when millions of people took to the streets. The Iran Job, directed by Till Schauder, is a great basketball movie about an American from the Caribbean who leads an Iranian team in Shiraz. In both films the people of Iran are the heroes. The Green Wave (80 ms) screens at 6:30 pm; The Iran Job (93 ms.) screens at 8 pm.
By Jordan Elgrably
Recently, I had the rare pleasure of experiencing Monajat—a concert by the American Iranian Jewish singer, composer and cultural anthropologist Galeet Dardashti. Monajat took place on the campus of UCLA, in the Fowler Museum's Lenoir Auditorium. It was an unexpected fusion of Persian classical singing, piyutim (Hebrew spiritual chanting in a poetic mode), Arab and Persian instrumentation, and jazz-like jamming. The concert was bathed in video projections (prepared by Dmitry Kmelnitsky and Lustre) behind the musicians and on two sides of the audience. The immersion in Iranian and Jewish culture—and Arab and American world music culture—was total.
By Omid Arabian
Awards season is upon us again, and two of the most lauded films of the year deal with American involvement in the Middle East. At the top of seemingly everyone's list is Zero Dark Thirty—an account of the CIA's hunt for Osama Bin Laden, as told by director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal (Oscar winners for 2009's The Hurt Locker). The film has dusted up a sandstorm of controversy, with various politicians outraged by its suggestion that torturing prisoners was instrumental in the eventual discovery and capture of Bin Laden. On the critical front, however, the film is being almost unanimously praised for (among other things) its unflinching, objective, bias-free approach to historical events. As if such a thing were possible.
With Monajat Galeet Dardashti, inheritor of a Persian musical legacy from her grandfather, famed classical singer Yona Dardashti, presents a multi-sensory musical performance to kick off a weekend exploring Iranian Jewish cultural history, as part of the ongoing "Light and Shadows" exhibit. Monajat features live music layered with an electronic soundscape and dynamic live video art in a performance that re-imagines the poetic, repentant Jewish prayers of Selichot. A talkback with Dardashti follows the performance.