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   CELEBRATING ETHNICITY, IRANIAN AMERICAN STYLE

This series of three videocasts by filmmaker Erik Friedl focuses on the Iranian New Year “Nowruz” (literally New Day), as celebrated in the United States and specifically in Los Angeles, home to the largest community of Iranian immigrants and their descendants in America. The venues are public festivals, sponsored and promoted by the community and staged in Westwood and Balboa Park.

Culture, politics, and identity are the themes that bind all three segments. While these festivals attract large crowds, as do music concerts held in conjunction with this festive holiday, most Iranian Americans celebrate Nowruz in the privacy of their homes, with family and friends. The Haft Sin table, a display of seven objects that start with the Persian alphabet letter sin (equivalent to the English letter s), is a tradition based on an ancient practice that symbolizes the coming of spring, new beginnings, abundance, and prosperity.

All three videocasts are driven by music and dance and feature the now familiar dishes (hearty stews and flavorful rices, kabobs, and pastries) that have made traditional Iranian food a part of the new American cuisine.

   PERSIAN NEW YEAR, LOS ANGELES STYLE

iranianamericans


This short introductory documentary features a voice-over narrative and provides the viewer with the essential information about Nowruz in the broader context of Iranian immigration and settlement in the United States. The setting is the last day of Nowruz--the culmination of the festival known as Sizdah Bedar--and is held on the grounds of Balboa Park in the San Fernando Valley where many Iranian Americans reside. On this happy occasion, Iranians celebrate the passage of bad luck or “getting rid of thirteen.” At the end of the day, the sabzeh—or sprouts—that were grown at the beginning of Nowruz are taken from the Haft Sin table and thrown into a river, symbolizing both the cycle of life and the jettisoning of all sickness, pain and bad luck that would have marred the coming year.

   NOURI'S DANCE

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   CELEBRATING ETHNICITY, IRANIAN AMERICAN STYLE

This series of three videocasts by filmmaker Erik Friedl focuses on the Iranian New Year “Nowruz” (literally New Day), as celebrated in the United States and specifically in Los Angeles, home to the largest community of Iranian immigrants and their descendants in America. The venues are public festivals, sponsored and promoted by the community and staged in Westwood and Balboa Park.

Culture, politics, and identity are the themes that bind all three segments. While these festivals attract large crowds, as do music concerts held in conjunction with this festive holiday, most Iranian Americans celebrate Nowruz in the privacy of their homes, with family and friends. The Haft Sin table, a display of seven objects that start with the Persian alphabet letter sin (equivalent to the English letter s), is a tradition based on an ancient practice that symbolizes the coming of spring, new beginnings, abundance, and prosperity.

All three videocasts are driven by music and dance and feature the now familiar dishes (hearty stews and flavorful rices, kabobs, and pastries) that have made traditional Iranian food a part of the new American cuisine.

   PERSIAN NEW YEAR, LOS ANGELES STYLE

iranianamericans


This short introductory documentary features a voice-over narrative and provides the viewer with the essential information about Nowruz in the broader context of Iranian immigration and settlement in the United States. The setting is the last day of Nowruz--the culmination of the festival known as Sizdah Bedar--and is held on the grounds of Balboa Park in the San Fernando Valley where many Iranian Americans reside. On this happy occasion, Iranians celebrate the passage of bad luck or “getting rid of thirteen.” At the end of the day, the sabzeh—or sprouts—that were grown at the beginning of Nowruz are taken from the Haft Sin table and thrown into a river, symbolizing both the cycle of life and the jettisoning of all sickness, pain and bad luck that would have marred the coming year.

   NOURI'S DANCE

nouris-dance


“Nouri's Dance” centers on an individual member of the Iranian American community immersed in spontaneous dance at a prominent bookstore in Los Angeles. It is both joyous and nostalgic, and the music induces the heartwarming performance. It is noteworthy that in 2008 when this was filmed, much to the disappointment of many, the Nowruz celebration in the streets of Westwood was cancelled due to a controversy over the manner in which the Iranian flag had been presented the previous year. The celebration was renewed the following year and was attended by the mayor of Los Angeles and other dignitaries. A multitude of children and adolescents of Iranian descent and their parents, from diverse backgrounds, come together to affirm, enjoy and share their common heritage. The festive atmosphere of Nowruz attracts other Americans to experience this annual commemoration of the Persian New Year first hand.

   PERSIAN AND PROUD

persian-proud


“Persian and Proud” takes place in Westwood, the heart of the Iranian American community in Los Angeles. The occasion is Nowruz 2009 and thousands turn out for the daylong street party. While Iranians have not formed ethnic enclaves like Little Saigon and Koreatown, the large concentration of stores and businesses underscores the visible presence of Iranians in this area. Iranian immigrants are generally refugees, most of whom left their country at the beginning of the revolution that deposed the Shah in 1978-79. Iranians tend to be highly educated and entrepreneurial and gravitate towards commerce and the professions. The singing of the Iranian national anthem of the Pahlavi monarchy and the presence of political and human rights activists underscore the attachment this community has for both Iran and the United States.