Shokoufeh Shadabi is an Iranian born Jazz singer who made her journey to the United States 7 years ago. Hers is an inspiring story of sacrifice and freedom that I am honored to bring to a larger audience.
The film begins with chaotic splicing together of life in Iran and life in the U.S. As an Iranian woman bends down in prayer, a young American girl looks up towards a pop icon on her television and so on. This film is driven by the music of talented female Iranian musicians such as Ida Khalili, Faravaz Farvardin, and our subject, Shokoufeh Shadabi.
Shokoufeh’s story begins before her birth. The influx of western culture into Iran from the 1950’s to the late 70’s will be visited early in the film because it marks a time when Iranian women were encouraged to explore individualism and artistic expression. Of equal importance is the Islamic revolution that followed, when women would be returned to a culture of subjugation. It is this culture which our subject was born into. Shokoufeh was raised in a loving, middle class family to educated parents. She was also born in to the Bahá'í religion, which despite being the second largest religion in Iran, remains the subject of persecution from the ruling Islamic regime.
Despite entrenched pressures from a multitude of angles, Shokoufeh persevered. The film will follow her path to adulthood through a combination of footage from Iran, as well as narration. The narration will be performed by several different speakers of Iranian decent in both Farsi (with subtitles) and English, because her story is shared by many. The film will also include kinetic interviews (not talking heads) with female Jazz musicians who currently live in Iran.
She attended school in her youth, followed by college. However, because Baha’i women are not allowed to attend college in Iran, she was forced to attend in secret. It was the realization that she could not receive an accredited degree from her college, that spurred her desire to leave Iran. The film will creatively recreate her long journey from Iran to the United States, discussing the toll it took on both Shokoufeh and her family. Her challenges did not end when she arrived. The suffix of the film will discuss what it felt like for Shokoufeh to be thrust into American culture. It will explore how she has managed to embrace her heritage without sacrificing her independence, so far from her roots. The film will end with another chaotic splicing of footage from Iran and the United States, however this time the footage will include refugees who we have met throughout the film in their lives, both in Iran and outside of it.
Director: Benjamin Tomson