Sierra Urich rew up in a small city nestled within the foothills of Vermont’s Inexperienced Mountains. Raised by her Persian mom and American-born
father, she grew up talking English, by no means studying her mom’s native language. Her connection to her Iranian identification was restricted to meals, holidays, and outdated household pictures. She was 4 years outdated when she met her grandparents for the primary time. She has by no means been to Iran.
“Joonam”is screening on the 2023 Sundance Movie Pageant, which runs from January 19-29.
W&H: Describe the movie for us in your individual phrases.
SU: Solely realizing Iran via household tales, meals, and holidays, and with the prospect of journey to the nation a seemingly unimaginable dream, “Joonam” paperwork my private journey to make sense of my fractured Iranian identification.
W&H: What drew you to this story?
SU: “Iran is simply too harmful. Possibly someday the political state of affairs will get higher…”
As a baby I took this household chorus at face worth. Rising up in rural Vermont, my household’s reminiscences had been the one window I needed to perceive my cultural identification. Visiting Iran was by no means on the desk, and due to that, I grew up with out a lot connection to it. My father was American, my associates had been American, and I used to be American. The truth that my mom was from “Persia,” as she most well-liked me to say– an historical empire absent from trendy maps– was a small element that made me really feel fascinating and mysterious. For me, Iran was simply meals and holidays– something extra was out of attain.
“Joonam” was born out of my deep and unresolved need to really feel related to Iran.
W&H: What would you like folks to consider after they watch the movie?
SU: At this very second, Iran is on the cusp of one other revolution. Younger ladies are burning symbols of the regime, main protests within the streets, and fearlessly preventing for his or her liberty and bodily autonomy. That is the largest risk the Islamic Republic has confronted since they got here to energy 43 years in the past.
Like each different diasporic Iranian these previous couple of months, I’ve been glued to my social media feed, moved by the photographs of revolt and bravado coming overseas. The longing that compelled me to make this movie is similar gas that has been simmering beneath the floor for hundreds of thousands of Iranians dwelling overseas, and in the present day we’re witnessing that gas come to a boil.
This movie is an intimate window into the Iranian diaspora, and understanding the expertise of our neighborhood is vital to understanding the seismic significance of what’s occurring in Iran proper now.
W&H: How did you get your movie funded? Share some insights into how you bought the movie made.
SU: This movie was funded totally via grants! This implies two crucial issues. One, I used to be all the time in full management over what this movie would turn out to be. And two, many many hours had been spent writing grant purposes — most of which finish in rejections — or taking part in group fellowships, retreats, and residencies.
Whereas there are authentic limitations and critiques to the applying course of concerned with most grant funding, I do consider that the method of getting to repeatedly advocate for why your movie is vital or must be made. The fellowship expertise of workshopping and critiquing your movie in the end strengthens the work, or on the very least, your individual resolve.
W&H: What recommendation do you will have for different ladies administrators?
SU: If you end up about to ask a query whenever you even have a press release to make – make the assertion.
W&H: The movie business has an extended historical past of underrepresenting folks of coloration on display screen and behind the scenes and reinforcing — and creating — unfavourable stereotypes. What actions do you suppose must be taken to make Hollywood and/or the doc world extra inclusive?
SU: Rent folks of coloration in positions of energy. Give folks of coloration extra no-strings-attached cash to make what they wish to make. Chorus from giving folks of coloration unsolicited notes.