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There are 3 messages totalling 294 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. World Premiere of MARYAM
2. Payvand: Distraction, Commentary to Asr-e Azadegan daily By Mohammad
Quchani
3. Assembling the Virtual Diaspora

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Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 11:15:56 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: World Premiere of MARYAM

World Premiere of MARYAM at Los Angeles Independent Film Festival
Maryam , written and directed by Ramin Serry, takes place in 1979 and is the
story of Mary (Mariam Parris), an Iranian American teenager, pursuing fun and
romance in the New Jersey suburbs. Mary’s world is radically transformed,
though, when Ali (David Ackert), her fundamentalist Muslim cousin, comes to
live with her family at the same time Americans are taken hostage in Iran.
American backlash against Iranians and Ali’s disclosure of the family’s dark
history force Mary to come to terms with her own unique, culturally-divided
identity. It is a poignant and often funny movie, exploring prejudice and
betrayal, ultimately celebrating cultural diversity and the power of family.
Maryam is set for its World Premiere as part of the Los Angeles Independent
Film Festival on Friday, April 14th with an encore screening on Sunday, April
16th.

The film closely mirrors Ramin’s own experiences and for it he drew heavily
from his past. Ramin’s parents, both physicians, immigrated to the US from
Iran in the early ‘60’s, embarking on their medical careers. Ramin was born
and raised outside of Chicago, growing up exposed to both his family’s
traditional Persian culture and to the American suburban culture of his
environment. He distinguished himself early in school, regularly playing
the lead role in school plays and winning awards for his drawing talent. But
when American hostages were taken in Iran and the American backlash against
Iranians took hold, Ramin suddenly found himself the target of fellow
classmates’ prejudice and hatred. During this period, several of his cousins
escaped to the US and came to live with Ramin and his family. Ramin’s
struggle to fit in with Americans while simultaneously learning about his
culture from his cousins was the inspiration for Maryam.

After receiving his B.A. in English and American Literature from The
University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, Ramin earned an MFA in Film at
Columbia University Graduate School of the Arts in New York City. At
Columbia, he wrote, directed and edited the short film, "My Sister’s
Wedding," about an Iranian-American boy struggling to cope with his older
sister’s cross-cultural marriage. The film played in European Festivals and
toured in the International Tournee of Iranian Short Films. Following the
success of his short films, Ramin and producer Shauna Lyon developed and
produced Maryam.

Ramin and Shauna searched exhaustively for appropriate actors in New York and
Los Angeles. The film’s fresh and engaging leads, Mariam Parris (Mary) and
David Ackert (Ali), have both played in many films and TV shows. David also
happens to be the grandson of revered Iranian composer, Ruhollah Khaleghi.
Shaun Toub, who plays Mary’s father, has appeared in films such as Broken
Arrow , Stigmata, Executive Decision and Bad Boys and in TV shows such as
E.R., Seinfeld, Just Shoot me, etc. And Shohreh Aghdashloo, who
plays Mary’s mother, is the much-beloved first lady of Iranian theater.
Luckily, all of the leads were professionals who had a personal connection to
the story.

Ramin felt the need to make Maryam because although this historical period
is vividly remembered by Iranians, for most others it has been largely
forgotten. For Americans, he wanted to offer a positive, multi-layered
portrayal of Iranians, hoping to dispel with stereotypes and stimulate
constructive dialogue. And for Iranians, he wanted to present a warm and
entertaining celebration of their culture which would be appreciated by
audiences all over the world.

Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Screenings of MARYAM:

Friday, April 14th, 7:00 P.M.
Sunday, April 16th, 10:30 A.M.
Harmony Gold Preview House ,Laemmle Sunset 5
7655 Sunset Blvd.

Tickets go on sale March 15th.
Call 1-888-ETM TIXS (1-888-386-8497)

------------------------------

Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 11:26:03 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Payvand: Distraction,
Commentary to Asr-e Azadegan daily By Mohammad Quchani

Payvand's Iran News ...

3/27/00 Distraction

Commentary to Asr-e Azadegan daily By Mohammad Quchani

The converging efforts that are in the making to distract the
investigation of the assassination of Mr. Saeed Hajjarian should be
taken as a serious warning for the reformist movement

Apparently, in recent days two options are being added to the case by
all conservatives. One is the famous willful elements which are being
blamed for the assassination by the official organizations responsible
for the case, and the second is trying to insinuate that the 2nd of
Khordad elements have carried out the assassination in line with
internal purges.

Beside the conservatives are their blunt, angry allies who, from the
very beginning, were thinking about maximum demands of the case. The
angriest evening newspaper has regarded the internal differences of the
reformist front as the clue to the assassination

Nevertheless, the countrys security and judiciary bodies have fallen
into the distracting trap of the conservativesExtensive efforts are
made to avoid implicating military bodies in the assassination of
HajjarianThese bodies should be assured that the reformists by no means
believe in the principle of everything or nothing in criticizing the
political systemIf they support the free flow of information in the
case of Saeed Hajjarian, mentioning the affiliation of certain
individuals to certain organizations, they are in fact trying to
guarantee the existence of those organizations by diagnosing their
maladies.

------------------------------

Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 11:20:50 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Assembling the Virtual Diaspora

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March 03, 2000

Planet Web

Assembling the Virtual Diaspora

Far-flung ethnic and regional communities are using the Internet to reunite
and reconnect members with one another.



By Matthew Yeomans

In search of his lost friend, Ramin Rohani reached out from California to
Alborz.net, a London-based Iranian community Web site hoping for a word that
would lead him to Mammali. "We were classmates back in Alborz H.S. in Tehran
during the 70's," he wrote at the Lost Friends and Family message board.
"Please call me if anyone knows where or how I can locate him."


Whether Rohani ever found Mammali, his effort highlights a rare power of the
new Internet society – the ability to unite ethnic diasporas, rebuilding
communities online that have been disjoined in the terrestrial world.
Alborz.net is just one of a number of popular Iranian sites, catering to the
large but geographically scattered global Iranian expatriate community.


Whether they have left a distinct country, as in the case of Iran or Armenia,
or belong to a stateless ethnic group such as the Kurds or the Assyrians,
expatriate diasporas have found a way through the Internet to build an online
home away from home. Often, as is the case with sites dedicated to the Kurds
and Kosovo Albanians, the focus has been to make political – and military –
compacts. But with global expat communities, such as the estimated 70 million
people who comprise the Iranian diaspora, an online community can have a much
broader purpose.


"One of our ground rules was to make our site nonreligious and nonpolitical,"
says Davoud Manouchehri, CEO of the largest Iranian Web portal, Iran Online.
"This way, we thought we could attract the most number of potential visitors."


Iran Online launched in 1996, and today receives some 15,000 daily visitors
from the U.S., Canada and Europe. To draw them in, IOL offers free Web
hosting for Iranian cultural and business sites.


"The history of the Iranian people is one of censorship," says Manouchehri,
"Now with the Internet, all that has changed." Even open chat rooms are
unusual, he says. "For the first time, many people could exercise free speech
without being watched."


IOL, as well as its main U.S. competitor, Farsinet, and Alborz.net all offer
content in both English and Farsi – and they're all looking at the e-commerce
opportunities a homogenized and connected online community offer. IOL has a
small-scale e-commerce site called PersianBazaar.com, as well as a global
Iranian business directory, IranYellowPages.com.


And though they're directed at expatriates, the sites say they're surprised
at how many users come from within Iran. "Four or five years ago," says Ali
Parsa, a computer consultant living in Iran, "only academic users and
government agencies had access to the Net." Today, he says, Iranians have the
choice of a few ISPs to choose from, and "the Internet is helping bring more
awareness between Iranians all over the world. I myself have found some
long-lost friends on the Net who had gone to study abroad."


As with much of the developing world, Iran must also overcome the problems of
connectivity and high-cost call charges before it can function online. And
e-commerce, despite its promised efficiencies, faces some fundamental
obstacles. "This is a country in which sometimes a simple transfer between
two branches of the same bank is done manually," says Parsa. "There are no
credit cards, and so before e-commerce, we need a restructuring of our
banking system."


This is where the global diaspora can help. IranTrade.com, a New
Zealand-based site for Iranian firms trying to go global, is offering
marketing tips as well as Internet access and connections to other global
business trade associations.


But the success of such sites depend, to a great extent, on how the country
itself develops. In the wake of Iran's recent elections, after nearly 20
years of strict Islamic rule, a more secular government could be on the way –
bringing with it, perhaps, the lifting of U.S. economic sanctions against
large-scale foreign involvement in Iran's crucial oil industry. That, in
turn, could lead to more foreign investment, with the Internet an obvious
arena for development.


For his part, Saeid Bassam, CEO of Iran Trade, believes Iran's Internet
growth will continue no matter what political direction the country goes in.
Ali Parsa agrees. "Iranians, especially the youth, are eager to keep pace
with today's world," he says. "There were comments from conservatives about
the 'dangers' of the Net, but, as in politics, the momentum and desire for
change is much stronger than what the guardians of the old society can do."

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End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 27 Mar 2000
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