DER Documentary

From Babylonia To Beverly Hills: The Exodus of Iran's Jews


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by Tanaz Eshaghian
color, 27 min, 2003




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In 1979, the Islamic Revolution in Iran brought a twenty-five-hundred-year-old history to a close for the Jews who left their homeland for America. Uncertain about their safety and fearing religious persecution in Khomeini's Islamic Theocracy, an estimated 80,000 of Iran's 100,000 Jews fled the country. This documentary tells the story of those Jews who reestablished a tight knit community in Los Angeles.

Iranian Jewish families talk about their past in Iran - how the increasingly hostile circumstances forced them to flee their own country in order to secure a better future for their children. They recall the difficulties of starting a new life in the United States. They voice their fears about their children growing up in an alien society, adopting a culture that is far removed from their own. Young Iranian adults, on the other hand, talk about the pressures of confirming to parental expectations, of remaining true to their Iranian Jewish heritage even as they try and carve their own individual identities in modern day American society.

Historical background via the use of archival footage gives a detailed overview of the original Jewish settlement in Iran and their relationship with their adopted country as well as how they fared in the 20th century.

In the American cultural imagination, Iranians are represented by scenes of hard-line religious leaders and unruly crowds crying "Down With America." Very little is known about the religious diversity of Iranians living in America. This documentary helps create a more nuanced view of the culture and religious diversity of Iranians both inside and outside the country.


Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Iranian Jewish Heritage Day Program, Makor, New York, 2003
Athens International Film & Video Festival, Athens, Ohio, 2004
Oakland International Film Festival, California, 2004
Documentary and Ethnographic Film Festival, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil, 2004

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