Premiere of MARYAM at Los Angeles Independent Film Festival
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. Maryís 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 Aliís disclosure of the familyís 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,
The film closely mirrors
Raminís own experiences and for it he drew heavily from his past.
Raminís parents, both physicians, immigrated to the US from Iran in the
early Ď60ís, embarking on their medical careers. Ramin was born and
raised outside of Chicago, growing up exposed to both his familyís 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 classmatesí
prejudice and hatred. During this period, several of his cousins
escaped to the US and came to live with Ramin and his family. Raminís
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 Sisterís Wedding," about an Iranian-American boy struggling
to cope with his older sisterís 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 filmís
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 Maryís 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 Maryís 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
Sunday, April 16th, 10:30
Harmony Gold Preview House
,Laemmle Sunset 5
7655 Sunset Blvd.
Tickets go on sale March
Call 1-888-ETM TIXS (1-888-386-8497)