The Noor Iranian Film Festival (NIFF) is, the first annual Iranian film festival competition occurring outside of Iran. NIFF was created not only to serve as a platform to express an appreciation for the art of filmmaking, but also to shed light or "noor," or light, on Iranian culture and heritage, as opposed to how it is commonly portrayed in mainstream media.
With current political conversations surrounding Iran and Hollywood's recognition of filmmaker Asghar Farhadi's A Separation, now more than ever before, the Noor Iranian Film Festival sees the great importance of providing an open platform for filmmakers to express themselves, to help create dialogue on a global scale, and to build a community of Iranians and non-Iranians alike, who will together help preserve and promote the beauty and essence of Iranian culture throughout the ages.
With an amazing red carpet debut, NIFF first launched in 2007, making it the first Iranian film festival competition to occur outside of Iran. Focusing on the theme of "Tolerance," in its inaugural year, NIFF received over 400 submissions from Iranians around the world.
The first panel of judges included Natasha Henstridge (Species), Maz Jobrani (The Interpreter), Harry J. Lennox (Matrix Reloaded & Revolution), Shaun Toub (Crash) and Kyle Secor (Commander in Chief). With their active participation and later encouragement, Noor Iranian Film Festival quickly became an annual festival that continues to enlighten and inspire attendees today.
Utilizing the same format, the 2nd Annual Noor Iranian Film Festival took place in May of 2008 with submissions centered on the theme of "Celebrating Women." Judges included Rainn Wilson (The Office), Academy Awards Nominee Shohreh Aghdashloo (House of Sand and Fog), Reza Badiyi (Mission Impossible), Omid Djalili (Pirates of the Caribbean) and Ever Carradine (24). Selected films from this year were also screened in San Francisco.
The 3rd Annual Noor Iranian Film Festival occurred in May 2009 and featured submissions highlighting the theme of "Generations." In addition to screening selected films, Director Reza Badiyi, who holds the record for the most hours of TV directed by the Directors Guild of America, was honored with a Noor Iranian Film Festival Achievement Award. Mr Badiyi's work includes: The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Hawaii Five-O, Mission: Impossible, The Incredible Hulk, and The Six Million Dollar Man. Judges in 2009 included Brooke Adams (Monk), Esai Morales (NYPD Blue), Academy Awards Nominee Habib Zargarpour (Visual Effects), Rudi Bakhtiar (CNN Anchor), and Ali Pourtash (The Stoning of Soraya M). Selected films from this year were also screened in Daytona Beach, Florida.
The 4th Annual Noor Iranian Film Festival was to take place in May 2010, but was postponed for a number of reasons, including the unrest in Iran. The festival resumed in August 2011 and once again continued to spread awareness of Iranian cinema and filmmakers. Judges included Oscar-nominated sound editor Iranian -American Kami Asgar (Apocalypto), Corey Feldman (Stand By Me), Frances Fisher (Titanic), Bai Ling (Anna and the King), and Max Martini (Saving Private Ryan). The 2011 Noor Iranian Film Festival Achievement Award was presented to Iranian-American filmmaker Bob Yari (Crash, Illusionist, Sideways). Selected films from this year were also screened in Daytona Beach, Florida.
In August 2012, the 5th Annual Noor Iranian Film Festival took place in Los Angeles and was the largest in Noor history with over 25 officially selected films from filmmakers around the world. The festival's panel of judges included Tony Plana (Ugly Betty), Behrouz Vossoughi, one of Iran's most legendary actors, award winning Iranian-American writer and journalist Homa Sarshar, Navid Negahban (Homeland, The Stoning of Soraya M), and Emmy® Award- winning actor Kristoff St. John (The Young and the Restless).
Selected films from this year were also screened in Daytona Beach, Seattle, San Diego, and Washington DC.
The 6th Annual Noor Iranian Film Festival will take place in Los Angeles in October 2013 and will later travel to Daytona Beach, Seattle, Washington DC, New York, Chicago, Houston, San Diego, and San Francisco.