A Journey to the Unexplored Depth of Iran, Land of Mystic Rituals

Documentary Film - UK Premiere plus Q&A with Director/Writer

Aryana Farshad - Producer, Director, Co-writer, Co-Editor

The Persian-born filmmaker began her higher education in Paris, majoring in French literature at La Sorbonne, prior to receiving her degree from the L’ Institut Des Hautes Etudes Cinematographiques  in  Film Production and Editing.  She started work as a documentary editor in France, continuing in Iran, where she received the ABU Award for editing "The Emigrant Birds" and worked with major award-winning Iranian and European filmmakers, including the two times Oscar winning French director, Albert Lamorisse.

She was also Associate Professor at the Institute of Film and Television Higher Studies in Tehran where she taught Montage de Film. Ms. Farshad  served on the selection committee and was a jury member for the Tehran International Film Festival and also juried the Sepass Film Festival and CableACE Awards.

In 1978, Ms. Farshad  moved to the United States and continued film studies at USC. She joined the Editors Guild of America (I.A.T.S.E) and worked in post-production at major studios, including MGM and Columbia Pictures, while developing her own documentary projects.

“Mystic Iran: The Unseen World”, Aryana Farshad’s first full-length documentary, reflects her life-long passion for mysticism and spirituality. Ms. Farshad produced and directed the film entirely on location in Iran and Kurdistan during a nine-month journey of discovery back to the land of her ancestors.  She gained unprecedented access to people and places hidden for centuries, filming ceremonies and rituals never previously recorded. The result is a unique and mesmerizing personal quest into the heart of an ancient land in search of spiritual truth.

Aryana Farshad is currently in preparation for her new documentary film: “Rumi: Consciousness and the Message of Love”, while continuing work on a book, based on her lifelong spiritual experiences.

Janelle Balnicke - Co-Writer 

Janelle Balnicke trained in film and photography at the Polytechnic of Central London and lives in Los Angeles and London.  She has more than 20 years experience in international documentaries starting with her first job on the staff production team for Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" (PBS 1980) where she handled logistics and worldwide locations.  More recently (1996-1999) she held a 3-year tenure as Director of Specials Development for National Geographic Television, shaping and guiding projects from concept to production “green light.”  The long standing Award-winning Specials, airing on NBC Primetime during this time period, include both natural history and adventure films such as "Sea Monsters", "Heroes of the High Frontier", "Ancient Graves", "Avalanche."

Ms. Balnicke began producing and directing on the six-hour PBS series, "The West of The Imagination" (1986). In 1987, she completed work on "The Hero’s Journey", the film biography of mythologist Joseph Campbell on which she is credited as director, co-producer and writer. The independent film premiered at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, showcased in the Lincoln Center New Films, New Directors series, was released theatrically by Landmark Theaters and broadcast by PBS.   In 1988 Ms. Balnicke produced and directed two hour-long programs sponsored by Kodak and produced by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.


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