• 8 July 2010
  • Posted By Setareh Tabatabaie
  • Culture, Iranian American Life

Talented Iranian American Top Ranked in Film Competition

Ali Tabibnejad knew he was meant to be a film-maker since he was a child in Ahvaz. He would go into a room by himself and act out entire films. He imagined an entire film industry in his head: from different studios — different rooms in the house– to different theaters and directors. He would even imagine sales figures for the films and pick winners among them in imaginary film festivals.

Now, Tabibnejad is turning his favorite childhood game into reality. His film, “Untitled for James,” is currently ranked as one of the top six films in Openfilm’s Get It Made Competition. “Untitled for James” is about connecting to people and how technology affects that connection. It is the story of a son who has given up on his father because the father has been a technology-obsessed workaholic, working on advancing technology and its promise all his life. The son, an anti-technology musician, thinks he has figured it all out, but in actuality his life is in tatters. Through the events depicted in the film, his father succeeds in connecting with him.

The creation of the film was no small feat. Just days before production was to begin, Tabibnejad lost his lead actress. With challenging and frantic last minute rewriting, Tabibnejad did not stop rewriting until the very last edits in the post-production.

When asked about his interest in film-making, Tabibnejad stressed the social nature of art. “I hope to be a filmmaker in the tradition of Mohsen Makhmalbaf, not just because I have admired his films growing up, but also because he uses his status as an artist for social change,” he told NIAC. “I believe that the platform for expression that artists are afforded in society brings with it the responsibility to fight for the freedom of others.”

Asked whether he views himself as a role model for other Iranian-American involvement in the arts, Tabibnejad replied, “No, but I hope to be one. Iranians are a talented people, often intimidatingly so, and if my story inspires any Iranian to commit to the arts, I would count myself blessed.”

If Tabibnejad’s “Untitled for James” is still ranked as one of the top six films at the end of July, he will have the chance to turn it into a feature film. With this jumpstart to his career, Tabibnejad hopes to later revisit and explore his Iranian roots through cinema. “I don’t think any film has done justice to the richness of Iran’s recent history… and the breadth and depth of the personal stories that Iranians have been the heroes of in the last thirty to forty years.”

Posted By Setareh Tabatabaie

    3 Responses to “Talented Iranian American Top Ranked in Film Competition”

  1. Pirouz says:

    Last weekend I tried watching Director Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s “A Moment of Innocence” on YouTube. Here’s the URL for part 1:


    I didn’t like the film. Too contrived. Didn’t make it past the 10 minute mark, unfortunately.

  2. Journey Johari says:

    I have always had enormous faith in Ali’s talent, integrity and courage. He is a thinker, a doer and a person who absolutely will improve this world for countless people during his life and beyond. I proudly support this filmmaker and his work. Whether he shines now or later – he will shine, in Iran and everywhere else. And the sooner the better!

  3. Robert Pringle says:

    Amazing. I have been hoping to fight for freedom, through discovery and make a film of it, for the past thirty years, but I keep finding deaf ears, with mouths that cry about world conditions, with no interest in trying to change them. Do you know any filmmakers that would like to help a youth science expedition, film their research and potential discovery? I will be looking forward to any replies.
    Robert C. Pringle
    P. O. Box 2831
    White City, OR 97503

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