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World Premiere of MARYAM at Los Angeles Independent Film Festival

Press release
March 2000

Maryam , written and directed by Ramin Serry, takes place in 1979 and is the story of Mary (Mariam Parris), an Iranian-American teenager, pursuing fun and romance in the New Jersey suburbs. Mary's world is radically transformed, though, when Ali (David Ackert), her fundamentalist Muslim cousin, comes to live with her family at the same time Americans are taken hostage in Iran. American backlash against Iranians and Ali's disclosure of the family's dark history force Mary to come to terms with her own unique, culturally-divided identity. It is a poignant and often funny movie, exploring prejudice and betrayal, ultimately celebrating cultural diversity and the power of family. Maryam is set for its World Premiere as part of the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival on Friday, April 14th with an encore screening on Sunday, April 16th. (Click on images to see larger photos)

The film closely mirrors Ramin's own experiences and for it he drew heavily from his past. Ramin's parents, both physicians, immigrated to the US from Iran in the early '60's, embarking on their medical careers. Ramin was born and raised outside of Chicago, growing up exposed to both his family's traditional Persian culture and to the American suburban culture of his environment. He distinguished himself early in school, regularly playing the lead role in school plays and winning awards for his drawing talent. But when American hostages were taken in Iran and the American backlash against Iranians took hold, Ramin suddenly found himself the target of fellow classmates' prejudice and hatred. During this period, several of his cousins escaped to the US and came to live with Ramin and his family. Ramin's struggle to fit in with Americans while simultaneously learning about his culture from his cousins was the inspiration for Maryam.

After receiving his B.A. in English and American Literature from The University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, Ramin earned an MFA in Film at Columbia University Graduate School of the Arts in New York City. At Columbia, he wrote, directed and edited the short film, "My Sister's Wedding," about an Iranian-American boy struggling to cope with his older sister's cross-cultural marriage. The film played in European Festivals and toured in the International Tournee of Iranian Short Films. Following the success of his short films, Ramin and producer Shauna Lyon developed and produced Maryam.

Ramin and Shauna searched exhaustively for appropriate actors in New York and Los Angeles. The film's fresh and engaging leads, Mariam Parris (Mary) and David Ackert (Ali), have both played in many films and TV shows. David also happens to be the grandson of revered Iranian composer, Ruhollah Khaleghi. Shaun Toub, who plays Mary's father, has appeared in films such as Broken Arrow , Stigmata, Executive Decision and Bad Boys and in TV shows such as E.R., Seinfeld, Just Shoot me, etc. And Shohreh Aghdashloo, who plays Mary's mother, is the much-beloved first lady of Iranian theater. Luckily, all of the leads were professionals who had a personal connection to the story.

Ramin felt the need to make Maryam because although this historical period is vividly remembered by Iranians, for most others it has been largely forgotten. For Americans, he wanted to offer a positive, multi-layered portrayal of Iranians, hoping to dispel with stereotypes and stimulate constructive dialogue. And for Iranians, he wanted to present a warm and entertaining celebration of their culture which would be appreciated by audiences all over the world.

Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Screenings of MARYAM:

Friday, April 14th, 7:00 P.M.
Sunday, April 16th, 10:30 A.M.
Harmony Gold Preview House
Laemmle Sunset 5
7655 Sunset Blvd.

Tickets go on sale March 15th. Call 1-888-ETM TIXS (1-888-386-8497)


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