Kaveh Taherian: Regular Dude, Extraordinary Stories

Meet Kaveh Taherian, Iranian-American filmmaker and the director behind 25 Prospect Street, “a documentary about empowering adults with disabilities through love of the cinematic experience”.  He has his very own page on IMDb and his resume includes some character design for The Simpsons and Producer of 20 Years of Madness – which just got announced as part of the 2015 lineup for the Slamdance Film Festival. But at the root of it, he’s just a regular dude who tells some extraordinary stories. 

Read the interview below, and donate to the 25 Prospect Street campaign here.
Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 4.36.36 PM

Tell me a little about your background.

I’m full Iranian, my mom is from Tehran and Dad is from Gamsar. They came here in 1975, to Michigan. They came with the intention of returning, but then became these ‘reluctant Americans’, as I like to call it.

I was born in the Bay Area in Redwood City, then lived in Connecticut and France before coming back to the Bay Area.

I always drew, since I was a kid. I went to Laguna College of Art + Design, to study illustration, so my background is really rooted in illustration and art. I decided to come down to LA about six years ago and applied to grad school. I went to USC for a Master’s in film.

Why did you switch from illustration to film?

When I got out of college, I wanted to do character design, but it’s a very technical job. I chased it for a bit, and then realized I wanted to write the story behind the characters.

What have you been up to since film school?

Assistant Director (for films) work is my bread and butter. Having ADD and OCD is ideal for that position, you have to be gregarious when you’re making all the logistical decisions for a crew to follow.

I think the average life span for an AD is in their 50’s, because it’s so stressful.

I keep myself creatively occupied with a project that originally started as my Master’s thesis.

It’s the story of my uncle who was a pilot in the Navy of Iran, he joined during Shah’s time and stayed on after the Revolution. He gave less mind to the ideology because he believed ‘my job is to protect the people of Iran’. He stayed and fought in the Iran-Iraq war, but soon the ideology became too much for him and he decided to leave.

How he escaped: he and his co-pilot stole one of helicopters from the Iranian Navy, and eventually made their way to America.

What’s the story called?

I titled it ‘I’ll Fly Away’ after a Southern church song, because I thought it framed it perfectly. It’s rooted in Western themes, relatable to Americans, and it’s about redemption and escape. My uncle’s approach was always very sincere and matter of fact about his experience.

It doesn’t marginalize Middle Easterners, he’s just a regular dude put in these extraordinary circumstances.

Media should be about people. “I’ll Fly Away” is an American story, an immigrant story.

Where do you draw inspiration for your work?

Routine is extremely important to me, and if I don’t follow my routine I go crazy. I have a structured time that I just write, read random crap on the internet, and let my mind wander.

I think every story is rooted in something about yourself that you don’t understand, and you want to figure out further. I used to write essays for fun, and the one rule for myself was that it had to be horridly embarrassing for me to write about.

You’ve worked on documentaries, including the current one on 25 Prospect Street – why documentaries?

I never thought I’d be doing documentaries. I fell into it by accident, and then realized that I really loved it. It’s not necessarily a long term career goal. There’s something accessible and low maintenance about it.

It’s a lot more forgivable as a medium too, and its a lot more content than polish.

lavshf

For my Lavashak documentary: I had just gotten the camera so I decided to go film my grandmother as she made some Lavashak.

Tell me about 25 Prospect Street?

Ridgefield, Connecticut is a town I went to elementary school in. I heard from a friend’s dad about the Prospector Theatre. It’s a first-run theatre and also a nonprofit, that employs adults with disabilities – giving them different jobs and job coaches. And disabilities is a broad term, and that’s the rabbit hole that I’ve been going down… The revenue of the theatre funds their job coaches and all the operating costs, including staff.

What they’re learning to do is to become socialized. Somebody is in their 30’s and 40’s, and they’ve never had that opportunity to engage with people. Now they have a job and an opportunity.

The documentary part for me is not about the technical side, its more about how amazing it is to see people progress and see them get better at their jobs and personal life.

Rachel is a young woman in her mid 20’s on the spectrum and until recently she had been living at home without any real promise of being able to live independently. Since becoming a member of the Prospector team, she now lives completely on her own in a one-bedroom apartment. From what I understand, that was something her mother assumed was an impossibility, so it’s actually quite a big deal that she’s able to hold down a job and provide for herself on a very basic level.

It’s a story that people should see.

Why Ridgefield?

Valerie Jensen, (the founder of Prospector Theatre) lives in Ridgefield, and is a staunch advocate for disability rights. This is something she wanted to do and did it right in her own backyard.

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 5.00.08 PM

And it’s very startup-like. When we think about it, how many men run start ups? And to see a woman who is so smart and running this theatre… it’s something special.

What’s the status on 25 Prospect Street?

It opened unofficially back in August, since the theatre itself had to be built. Val decided to purchase the property and it’s been reappropriated, and made into something bigger and better than before.

It’s a huge experiment, we need to have a fair amount of time before we open the doors and let the masses in.

We started filming in June, then we made another trip in September, and another trip up until just a few days ago. We’ll be making another trip in January.

It’s a full on tracking documentary (one month, three month, six month, and one year after) to see if this idea is even sustainable.

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 5.00.55 PM

Why this story?

If I hadn’t lived in Ridgefield, I don’t think I would’ve had the propensity to it. I lived there, 1985-1995, and I didn’t necessarily have the best time there. I had this negative association, so I wondered how is this little town doing something progressive?

My original interest was being oh I’ve gotten the shit beaten out of me there for my name being weird, and then to come see this project that’s so progressive and the passion behind it – something surprising. Los Angeles is a lot of ego, and there’s not a lot of people who are doing stuff like this.

The reason I knew i could do this, is because people with disabilities are marginalized, just like Middle easterners.

You want to create a third archetype and show people there’s more to it than their stereotypes.

Three things you value most in life?

Punctuality, Sincerity, and I guess…creativity, let’s just be generic with this one.

Where was your first job?

Jamba Juice.

I love my Persian mom becauseoy. She is supportive to a fault.

How do you like your Fessenjoon?

It’s not my favorite one, my jam is Gheymeh. Over rice …standing over the sink.

I know I’ve made it ifI’ve paid off my master’s (seed) debt. I’m debt-free.

DONATE TO THE INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN FOR 25 PROSPECT STREET HERE.

Manly Nose Monday

For this edition of #ManlyNoseMonday we have some nose-y Iranian and non-Iranian actors.

But have you ever seen a manlier nose than this? Guess who it belongs to.

source: celebstoner

source: celebstoner

(Revealed at the end.)

Amir Arison

tall, dark and schnozzy. Loving it.

source: zimbio

source: zimbio

Bahram Radan

Jesus never looked so good.

source: flixster

source: flixster

 

Haaz Sleiman

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 4.48.41 PM

 

Liam Neeson

liam nee

Arian Moayed

source: NBC

source: NBC

And finally, if you didn’t guess before, that nose belongs to..

OWEN WILSON

owen wilson

What other actors would you add?

MANLY NOSE MONDAY: Founding Fathers edition

It’s Monday, and we’ve got another edition of #ManlyNoseMonday. In honor of 4th of July, here are the founding fathers of the manly nose trend.

But first, can you guess which manly man this manly nose belongs to?

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 11.23.45 AM

We’ll reveal it at the end.

For now, feast your eyes on Paul Newman’s slightly crooked-on-one-side, strong nose..

source: theplace2.ru
source: theplace2.ru

Frank Sinatra

source: theconcertdatabase
source: theconcertdatabase

Behrouz Vossoughi

source: flixster

source: flixster

Our mystery manly nose belongs to..

al pacin

AL PACINO.

AND A SPECIAL SHOUT OUT TO OUR JOONIES’ NOMINATIONS:

Saif Ali Khan

source: bollywoodlife

source: bollywoodlife

ADRIEN BRODY.

source: theapricity

source: theapricity

George RR Martin

source: vixenvarsity

source: vixenvarsity

DANIEL ASHTARI.

source: facebook

source: facebook

WHO ELSE WOULD YOU ADD? WANT TO NOMINATE SOMEONE FOR #MANLYNOSEMONDAY? DROP US A COMMENT.

Manly Nose Monday

So I have a thing for strong noses; and when guys get nose jobs, it breaks my heart.

Wide-set hips attract men because they indicate fertility. Manly noses attract women because they indicate strength and bedroom skills.

Ok, I just made that up. While it may not scientifically point to anything, men do have larger noses than women.  And to me, a man who embraces his less-than-perfect nose is always sexier than one who decides to put a bandage over it.

So a big THANK YOU to all these guys for rockin’ what their maman’s gave them.

1. Amin Hayayi

source: whatsupiran

source: whatsupiran

2. These two.

source: getty images

source: getty images

3. Masoud Shojaei

source: photoaman

source: photoaman

4. Fares Fares

source: aceshowbiz

source: aceshowbiz

5. Marlon Brando

source: thehypebr

source: thehypebr

 6. David Gandy

source: luxuo

source: luxuo

he deserves a second picture.

source: modeglitter

source: modeglitter

7. Reza Marashi

source: abc

source: abc

8. Sam Nazarian

source: wikipedia

source: wikipedia

WHO ELSE WOULD YOU ADD? WANT TO NOMINATE SOMEONE FOR #MANLYNOSEMONDAY? DROP US A COMMENT.

#TeamMelli Player to Watch: Ashkan Dejagah

Tomorrow, Iran plays its second match against Argentina. We’re a little nervous for Messidona, but we have a star of our own on #TeamMelli:

Ashkan Dejagah:

German Iranian.

attacking mid-fielder and right-winger.

His name just rolls off the tongue– De-ja-gah

Most notable achievement: scoring like a rockstar.

Ashkan scored twice on his debut for Iran against Qatar in the 2012 World Cup qualifier. He later scored in games against Lebanon and Thailand, sealing Iran’s place in the 2015 Asian Cup.

Thanks Dejagah.

ashkah

“I have more Iranian than German blood in my veins,”

And he wears his German-Iranian heritage proudly. Literally.

Berlin on one arm. And Tehran on the other.

With “Never Forget Where You’re From” on his neck.

(born in Tehran).

team melli selfie

But he’s not just a tattooed, football playing bad boy…

He’s a family man too.

He wears the Nike Mercurial boot line on the field, and has the names of his wife and daughter embedded onto the external sides of his boots.

assss

 

source: @gh_reza

source: @gh_reza

 What are your predictions for tomorrow’s game? Remember to share your fan love with us!

 

#TeamMelli Player to Watch: Alireza Haghighi & Daniel Davari

Ever since the Iran-Nigeria game, the world has been buzzing about Team Melli – not necessarily for the football, but for a certain someone’s fab hair.

source: Guardian

source: Guardian

The media loved it.

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 10.34.29 AM

His hair even has a Facebook page.

source: Twitter

source: Twitter

After the game, even non-Iranians wanted a piece of Alireza.

source: @TeamMelli2014

source: @TeamMelli2014

What’s better than one goalie/model? TWO goalie-models, duh.

source: instagram @shiwagh

source: instagram @shiwagh

 Meet the Persian Princes Alireza Haghighi & Daniel Davari.

source: instagram @shephchenko

source: instagram @shephchenko

 HIGH-FIIIVE.

source:

source: Farsizaban tumblr

Alireza Haghighi

Age: 26

Early Career Team: Persepolis

source: instagram @beautymodel_official

major throwback, with ali daei source: instagram @beautymodel_official

 major notable achievement: Saved A Penalty against Ali Daei. As well as being the youngest captain for Persepolis. ever.

source: instagram @beautymodel_official

source: instagram @beautymodel_official

& Best Hair.

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 11.02.07 AM

source: instagram @alirezahaghighi_official

source: instagram @alirezahaghighi_official

sourcE: instagram @alirezahaghighi_official

source: instagram @alirezahaghighi_official

Here he is with Iranian football icon Ali Daei (15 years later).

source: instagram @actorsfan

source: instagram @actorsfan

DANIEL DAVARI

Age: 26

Current Team: Eintracht Braunschweig

source: instagram @danieldavarifans

source: instagram @danieldavarifans

Half-German, Half-Iranian.

source: instagram @danieldavarifans

source: instagram @danieldavarifans

Most notable achievement: James Bond Look-alike.

source: instagram @marmah1

source: instagram @marmah1

Check out this interview with him, his accent is adorable.

 

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 11.34.17 AM

source: zetaboards

source: zetaboards

Basically, #TeamMelli has some fine goalkeepers.

source: photoaman

source: photoaman

THE END.

#TeamMelli vs. Nigeria: The Highlights

The game ended with 0-0, but it was a roller coaster.

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 10.13.24 PM

For us there were plenty of highlights.

Iroonis all over the world were cheering on #TeamMelli in their game against Nigeria — and people were getting creative.

We asked our Joonies to send us pics of how they were showing their fan pride, and we were not disappointed.

Compiling a list so you don’t have to look anywhere else, now get to scrolling…

One word, Hugs.

Source: twitter @PHLovefootball

Source: twitter @PHLovefootball

True Sportsmanship on the field.

source: twitter @yellownx

source: twitter @yellownx

Goalie or Model?

source: twitter @pedestrian

source: twitter @pedestrian

From Food Flags to Real Flags, here’s all the different ways we sent love to our national team:

BEST FAN LOOKS

source: twitter @squawka and @tribundergi

source: twitter @squawka and @tribundergi

bears'

source: twitter @therealsunnista

source: twitter @therealsunnista

In Brazil

Twitter: Negar Mortazavi

Twitter: Negar Mortazavi

In Brazil. Twitter: Negar Mortazavi

Twitter: Negar Mortazavi

Famous Iranian actor Mohammadreza Sharifinia

Famous actor Mohammadreza Sharifinia. Twitter: Negar Mortazavi

Twitter: Negar Mortazavi

IN VIENNA:

Nuclear talks delegation source: @ladanenasseri

Nuclear talks delegation source: @ladanenasseri

FROM LOS ANGELES:

source: twitter @sep_persian

source: twitter @sep_persian

SWEDEN:

source: twitter @denniszadeh

source: twitter @denniszadeh

LONDON:

source: twitter @tehranix

source: twitter @tehranix

FACEPAINT, EVERYWHERE:

Twitter: @fifaworldcup_fr

Twitter: @fifaworldcup_fr

source: twitter @AFP

source: twitter @AFP

EVEN ON PETS.

source: twitter @farboddanesh

source: twitter @farboddanesh

And cheetahs.

Twitter: Omid_M

Twitter: Omid_M

 A PERSIAN CAT EVEN WATCHED.

soure: twitter @ladanenasseri

soure: twitter @ladanenasseri

LOVE HAPPENED.

PDA

FOOD FLAGS. YES.

Pudding #Shirberenj #ricepudding & homemade pistachio & strawberry jam

Pudding #Shirberenj #ricepudding & homemade pistachio & strawberry jam

Twitter: @SimisKitchen

Twitter: @SimisKitchen

 FANS REPPING THE RED, WHITE & GREEN:

Twitter: @ShabnamRezaei

Twitter: @ShabnamRezaei

Instagram: @mehran_e

Instagram: @mehran_e

Instagram: @rod_oo

Instagram: @rod_oo

Instagram: @shadan214

Instagram: @shadan214

NAIL ART:

source: twitter @adayinthelalz

source: twitter @adayinthelalz

source: twitter @persianintrigue

source: twitter @persianintrigue

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 10.11.05 PM

A FASHIONABLE OUTFIT:

source: instagram @bibifatemeh

source: instagram @bibifatemeh

Fans also took notice of how FIIINE the players were (check out the hottest ones here):

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 8.35.42 PM

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 9.58.19 PM

Best Tweets:

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 8.48.19 PM

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 8.51.48 PM

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 8.54.05 PMScreen Shot 2014-06-16 at 8.53.06 PM

From Saaghi & Farrah:
Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 9.57.46 PM

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 10.17.08 PM

President Hassan Rouhani also had a few words to share (tweet):

Source: Twitter @HassanRouhani

Source: Twitter @HassanRouhani

 

Source: Twitter @HassanRouhani

Source: Twitter @HassanRouhani

Joonies, let’s continue to

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 10.56.59 AM

ANYTHING WE MISSED?

 

#TeamMelli Player To Watch: Reza Ghoochannejhad

Reza Ghoochannejhad: plays forward for Team Melli.

In today’s game against Nigeria, Ghoochannejhad will be the key player in Iran’s counterattacking play.

All about that defense… and making sure he can break it through.

His last name might be a bit of a tongue twister (no complaining there), but it’s okay ladies…

he goes by Gucci for short.

In June of 2013, Gucci scored the only goal for Team Melli in the World Cup qualifier against Qatar. Then he scored against Lebanon in the game that ended in 4-0 (in favor of Iran… duh).

And finally, he scored the winning goal in the match against South Korea (1-0), which led to Iran’s qualification at the top of their group for the 2014 WORLD CUP.

Thanks Gucci.

 And don’t let those football legs fool you, he’s a also a whiz at the violin.

(because what Persian family allows you to grow up without playing/attempting a sport and an instrument).

In fact, he hopes to be part of a philharmonic orchestra when he retires.

fifa2014worldcuponline.com

fifa2014worldcuponline.com

We’re rooting for you today, Gucci. Make us proud.

Share your team spirit photos with S&F — tag us on Facebook or tweet at us @Sex_Fessenjoon!

 

 

English Idioms That Make No Sense to My Immigrant Parents

Everything on this list is always lost in translation.

 

The Word ‘Idiom’ -

 

huh, like idiot?
source: giphy

source: giphy

Break a leg!

no, tank you.
source: giphy

source: giphy

You’re Pulling My Leg!

but i’m not touching your leg?
source: giphy

source: giphy

Drop Him Like A Hot Potato

source: giphy

source: giphy

You’re Barking Up The Wrong Tree

VAAAT? I AM NOT A DOG.
source: giphy

source: giphy

Monkey See, Monkey Do

YOU ARE DE MONKEEY.
source: giphy

source: giphy

Elvis has left the building

source: giphy

source: giphy

Straight from the Horse’s Mouth

KHODET KHARI (trans: You’re a donkey).

source: giphy

source: giphy

When Pigs Fly

I don’t understand.

source: giphy

source: giphy

You Scratch my back, I’ll Scratch Yours

source: giphy

source: giphy

It’s Raining Cats and Dogs

no, it’s not.

source: giphy

source: giphy

The Twilight Zone

source: giphy

source: giphy

Too Many Balls in the Air

Keep your balls vhere dey belong.

source: giphy

source: giphy

Put your foot in your mouth

ew.

source: giphy

source: giphy

Lose your marbles

You amerikans. Eeenglish is a veird language.

source: giphy

source: giphy

What else would you add?

The Hottest Iranian Soccer Players

World Cup 2014 is almost upon us. Iran is headed to Brazil, and while we may not have any Ronaldos’- we do have some hotties we can watch on (and off) the field.

Steven Beitashour

quit playing games with my heart:

steven-beitashour
Soure: SI Soccer

Daniel Davari

hey girl, I can’t wait to come home and eat leftover ghormeh sabzi with you:

daniel davari
Source: Farsizaban Tumblr

Farhad Majidi

In your eyes is where I belong:

Source: Zohur12.ir
Source: Zohur12.ir

Karim Ansarifard

I mustache you to marry me:

Source: Zimbio
Source: Zimbio

Gholamreza Rezaei

With a name like mine, you knew I’d be FIIIINE:

source: goal.com
source: goal.com

Nasser Hejazi (RIP):

Source: Iran Sports Press
R.I.P Source: Iran Sports Press

Ali Daei:

haha just kidding… ?

Source: Fouman
Source: Fouman

Who else would you add to this list?

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