Meet the NIFF Team

Festival Co-Founder and Director

Siamak Ghahremani

Siamak Ghahremani Siamak Ghahremani is a prominent leader in the Iranian-American community, particularly in southern and northern California. He is an active and energetic cultural producer with a long list of innovative social, cultural, educational and charitable programs to his credit.

Mr. Ghahremani has hosted sizeable cultural celebrations, including the Persian New Year and Harvest Festivals in southern and northern California, and has also co-hosted the Sunday Morning Show on 670 AM KIRN for seven years, where he had the privilege of interviewing many prominent members of the community. He also started and is the current host of POPCORN, an entertainment show on RadioJavan.com, the premier website for Iranian music and entertainment.

Mr. Ghahremani's success in event production is founded on his solid background in business and finance. His programs are well-planned, organized, and fiscally sound. As an entrepreneur, Rotarian, and past Board Member of the West Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Ghahremani builds strong, working relationships with other prominent community leaders to successfully market his events and generate broad support.

His passion for film and cinema sparked as a child in Iran, when he was first captivated by this story-telling medium. His vision is to bring the Noor Iranian Film Festival to an international audience and to advocate for Iranians both in the US and abroad to share their unique narratives and cinematic talents with the world, thus bridging the gap between Iranian and non-Iranian communities.

Festival Co-Founder

Anthony Azizi

Anthony Azizi Anthony Azizi began acting in plays as a young child at the Touchstone Theater in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, under artistic directors Bill and Bridget George. He started writing and staging his own plays for school and other public venues at the age of eight and continued in the arts throughout his schooling. Anthony and fellow alumni Daniel Dae Kim and Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson attended Freedom High School, where Anthony's drama teachers instilled in him a love of acting.

In 1996, Anthony received his first big film break when Bryan Spicer hired him to play Tim Curry's sidekick in the Universal feature McHale's Navy. During this time, Mr. Curry mentored him through his first studio film and graciously taught him the do's and don'ts of the business. Since then, he has been in many films, including Three Kings, For Richer or Poorer, Tomcats, The Lost Battalion, AmericanEast, Eagle Eye, Priest, and Transformers 3.

Anthony landed his first series regular role in ABC's one hour drama, Threat Matrix. Since then, Anthony has played memorable guest starring roles on many top shows, including The Unit, Chuck, Dragnet, NYPD Blue, The Shield, The West Wing, Gilmore Girls, CSI Miami, Without a Trace, Sleeper Cell, Criminal Minds, 24, Desperate Housewives, and Lost. He has also had a regular starring role in Commander in Chief, Single Ladies, and 90210.

Board of Advisors

Maz Jobrani

Maz JobraniMaz Jobrani Maz Jobrani is a founding member of The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour, which aired on Comedy Central, had his own Showtime comedy special, Brown and Friendly, and has done stand-up comedy around the world, including the Middle East, where he performed in front of the King of Jordan. Maz starred in the films Friday After Next, 13 Going on 30, and The Interpreter. On TV, he was a regular on ABC's Knights of Prosperity and FOX's Life on a Stick.

He also recurred on ABC's Better Off Ted. Maz has guest starred on Curb Your Enthusiasm, 24, ER, NYPD Blue, Traffic Light, and most recently Man Up. He has performed his stand up on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and Lopez Tonight. He has been featured on NPR, CNN, The BBC and in print in The New York Times, Time, and Newsweek. Maz also co-hosts a podcast called "Minivan Men" about fatherhood, which has garnered great reviews on iTunes.

Shaun Toub

Shaun Toub Shaun Toub's latest film as Uncle Iroh alongside Dev Patel and Cliff Curtis in M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender, was aired in July 2010. He was also opposite Robert Downey Jr. in Paramount Pictures/Marvel Studios's box office hit Iron Man, directed by Jon Favreau, where he played the trusted friend and scientist YinSen, who saves Tony Stark's life.

Toub has had a multi-faceted career. His gripping performance as Farad in Paul Haggis' Oscar-winning film Crash earned him an SAG Ensemble Cast Award, Satellite Award -Ensemble Cast Award, Critics Choice Award for Best Acting Ensemble, and the Hollywood Film Festival Ensemble Acting of The Year award. Crash was nominated for six awards in the 78th Academy Awards (2005) and won three of them, including a win for Best Picture. Toub also dazzled audiences playing Rahim Khan in The Kite Runner, a Golden Globe Best Foreign Language Film nominee, and playing Joaquim opposite actress Keisha Castle-Hughes in the critically acclaimed film The Nativity Story.

Known as a versatile actor, Toub has worked alongside many accomplished actors, including Tom Hanks in Charlie Wilson's War, Sandra Bullock in Crash, and John Travolta in Broken Arrow. As a comedic performer, he also shined in Michael Bay's Bad Boys with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.

His other acting credits include Executive Decision, Maryam, and Hot Shots 2. Additionally, Toub has made his mark on HBO, in Mick Jackson's Live from Baghdad, starring Michael Keaton and Helena Bonham Carter, and in the controversial Path to Paradise, opposite Marcia Gay Harden. He appears often in television mini-series, most recently in the ABC Emmy-nominated The Path to 9/11. He has received accolades for several of his appearances in over 100 television episodes, including Seinfeld, The Sopranos, ER, Just Shoot Me, Nash Bridges, Jag and Married with Children.

Homa Sarshar

Homa Sarshar Homa Sarshar is a published author, award-winning journalist, writer, and media personality. Her latest book Sha'ban Jafari was the number one best seller Persian book in Iran and abroad in the year 2003. She founded the Center for Iranian Jewish Oral History (CIJOH) in Los Angeles, a nonprofit organization that gathered over 1,600 historically significant photographs and documents, and recorded over 120 oral interviews with elders and leaders of the community. As the co-producer, writer, and talk-show host of Omid Radio she co-founded a daily AM radio broadcast for the Los Angeles based Iranian immigrant community. The show played a pivotal role in informing and educating the new community about life in the US.

Throughout her 50-year career with Iranian and Iranian-American print, radio, and television, Sarshar has done more than 1500 interviews and has produced and anchored as many radio and television programs. She has also written, directed, and produced a collection of twenty video documentaries on exiled Iranian writers, poets, and artists, some of which have been acquired by the Library of Congress for the library's permanent audiovisual archive. She has received numerous awards for her work, including the Medal for Special Achievement in Women's Rights, given by The Iranian Women's Organization of Tehran, Iran; Journalism Award: Distinguished Iranian Women by the Encyclopaedia Iranica; and Commendation for Community Affairs Services by the County of Los Angeles. Recently, she was the recipient of the 2013 Ellis Medal of Honor

Homa Sarshar was born in Shiraz on 1946, and raised in Tehran. She earned a BA in French literature from Tehran University; a MA in journalism from the Annenberg School of Communications, USC; and a Ph.D. (HC) in Journalism from College of Letters and Science at the American World University – LA, CA. She is currently resident of Los Angeles.

David Diaan

David DiaanLos Angeles based Fariborz Davoodian aka (David Diaan) studied radio, television, and journalism at the renowned University of Missouri. He is a respected Iranian-American entrepreneur, actor, writer, and filmmaker.

His popular theater group which included works such as The Belind Date, The 99 Cent Family, and Death Comedy, has toured across the United States and Canada. Among his works as an actor is his stunning performance in The Stoning of Soraya M. David is a prolific artist and an avid humanitarian.

Roxana Rastegar

Roxana RastegarAfter graduating from the American University of Paris with a B.A. in comparative literature, Roxana Rastegar came to Los Angeles to continue her education, receiving a M.A. in theater arts from Cal State LA. A talented artist, Roxana began working as a professional photographer before later joining the Avaz International Dance Company. As a member, she has performed all over the US, including such acclaimed venues as the Japan American Theater, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and Royce Hall.

Roxana has also done voice work in several original radio plays heard on KIRM in Los Angeles and worked for Persian satellite TV. She was in the long-running hit plays The 99 Cent Family, and Death, a Very Serious Comedy. Roxana has also co-produced Otis E, a feature film in which she also had a role.

Parisa Defaie

Parisa DefaieParisa Defaie, an esteemed television host, producer, actress and public speaker, has won widespread popularity among young filmmakers worldwide for her TV series about cinema, which ran on PBC Network. She has conducted high-profile TV interviews with entertainment notables like Academy Award President Sidney Ganis and other acclaimed personalities.

Recognized for her unique vision and expertise, as well as for her desire to share her passion with the next generation of young actors and filmmakers, Ms. Defaie has spearheaded numerous philanthropic projects dedicated to community, families, and entertainment technology. She has established a specialty in program integration and strategic media marketing of semiconductors and recently proposed a new start-up, TechYar, an online source of technology and education, powered by top Silicon Valley executives.

Ms. Defaie graduated from Santa Clara University with a degree in television production and earned an executive leadership degree from Stanford University.

Alaleh Kamran

Alaleh KamranAlaleh Kamran is a criminal defense attorney, who for the last 20 years has dedicated her practice to the defense of the constitution, humanitarian causes, and grass roots community efforts to intervene on behalf of the defenseless. Her criminal practice covers drug-related offenses, violent crimes such as murders, as well as white collar crimes, such as money laundering and structuring cases, on the state and federal levels.

She is a frequent lecturer to high schools, colleges, and non-profit organizations, concentrating on Juvenile Crimes and Domestic Violence: Intervention and Prevention. She is a frequent legal analyst on radio and television programs and has her own monthly radio program dealing with crimes and constitutional issues.

She has previously served as the President of the Iranian American Lawyers' Association. In 2001, she was awarded the "Woman of the Year Award" by the Iranian Jewish Women's Organization of Southern California. To date, Alaleh has been the recipient of a Certificate of Commendation from the City of Los Angeles, a Community Award from the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, a Certificate of Recognition from the City of Beverly Hills, and a Certificate of Recognition for Outstanding Service and Support provided to the Iranian Community through the Mid-Wilshire Domestic Violence Prevention Collaborative. In 2010, Jewish Unity Foundation honored her with the "Humanitarian of the Year Award."

She has appeared as a guest legal analyst for E! Entertainment, Access Hollywood, and NBC news. She is also active with the Beverly Hills Film Festival.

Bahar Sedarati

Bahar SedaratiBahar Sedarati, M.D. is a Board-Certified Doctor of Internal Medicine. A graduate from the Yale University-affiliated St. Mary's Hospital in Connecticut, Dr. Sedarati is passionate about raising awareness regarding heart disease in the community. She was awarded the Guardian of the Heart Award 2012 for outstanding effort in raising awareness for heart disease and is an official Ambassador for the foundation. She strives to educate people about self-respect, understanding one's value, and how self-discipline, hard work and persistence can transform an individual and help them grow.

Dr. Sedarati plays a huge role in local charities. She is a board member for Life is Beautiful Charity and Tosi Health, Organic/Gluten-free nutritional supplements. She has also devoted time to the Lupus and Autoimmunity Awareness Association and Miss OC Regional Pageant.

Public Relations

Heather Burgett

The Burgett Group

heather@theburgettgroup.com

Staff

Behzad Tabatabai - Art Director

Sana Sepehri - Submissions Coordinator

Melody Mandegar - Operations Coordinator

Naysan Mahmoudi - Production Coordinator

Soleiman Bolour - Volunteer Coordinator

Shahaub Roudbari - A / V Coordinator

Adrienne Varkiani - Staff Writer

Sharareh Ghahremani - Operations Manager

Golnaz Farpour - Special Event Coordinator