The Noor Iranian Film Festival, the first Iranian film festival competition to occur outside of Iran, is more than just a platform to express an appreciation for the art of filmmaking, but a way to shed light or "noor" on Iranian culture and heritage distinct from what is commonly evoked through mainstream media.
Aptly named “Noor,” meaning “light” in Persian, the Noor Iranian Film Festival (NIFF) makes reference to the key element of “light” used in the art of filmmaking as well as the festival’s purpose to “shed light” on Iranian culture and heritage.
2007 marked NIFF’s inaugural year and its Red Carpet Debut established it as the first Iranian Film Festival competition to occur outside of Iran. The first NIFF focused on the theme of “Tolerance” and 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). Through their active participation and the encouragement subsequent Noor Iranian Film Festivals continue to enlighten and inspire attendees.
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 during a satellite festival.
The 3rd Annual Noor Iranian Film Festival occurred in May of 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 lifetime 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 included Brooke Adams (Monk), Esai Morales (NYPD Blue), Academy Awards Nominee, Habib Zargarpour (Visual Effects), Rudi Bakhtiar (CNN Anchor), and Ali Pourtash (Stoning of Soraya M). Selected films from this year were also screened in Daytona Beach, Florida during a satellite festival.
The 4th Annual Noor Iranian Film Festival was to take place in May 2010, but was postponed for a number of reasons, including the upraising in Iran. The festival resumed in August 2011 and continued spreading awareness of Iranian cinema and Iranian filmmakers. Judges included Oscar-nominated sound editor Iranian-American Kami Asgar (Apocalypto), actor 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 during a satellite festival.
In August 2012, the 5th Annual Noor Iranian Film Festival took place in Los Angeles and was the biggest year the festival had. With over 25 officially selected films from filmmakers around the world. The festival's panel of judges included; Tony Plana (Ugly Betty); one of Iran’s most legendary actors, Behrouz Vossoughi; Award winning Iranian-American writer & journalist Homa Sarshar, actor 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, and Washington DC during a satellite festival.
The 6th Annual Noor Iranian Film Festival will take place in Los Angeles October 2013 and will travel to Daytona Beach, Seattle, Washington DC, New York, Chicago, Houston, San Diego, and San Francisco during the 2013-2014 seasons.
With current political conversations surrounding Iran and with Hollywood's recognition of filmmaker Asghar Farhadi's recent work A Separation, now more than ever the Noor Iranian Film Festival sees the significance of its role as more than just a festival, but an opportunity to allow filmmakers an open platform for self-expression, to help create dialogue on a global scale, and to build a community of Iranians and non-Iranians alike who will help preserve and promote the beauty and essence of Iranian culture, past and present.