The Iran Job follows American basketball player Kevin Sheppard as he accepts a job to play in Iran. Carnegie hosted a work-in-progress screening of this documentary, followed by a discussion with the film's director and producer, Sara Nodjoumi and Till Schauder. Carnegie's Karim Sadjadpour moderated.
The Iran Job begins with the decision of Kevin Sheppard to move to Iran for a year to play basketball. Sheppard, an American basketball player from the U.S. Virgin Islands, accepted a contract to the Iranian Super League. The film follows Sheppard to the Iranian city of Shiraz, where it documents his experiences both on and off the court.
Sheppard quickly discovered that it was impossible to escape from politics while in Iran. Tensions between the West and Iran continued to increase during his time there. While the film includes a number of scenes detailing his experiences playing basketball, it also focuses on the unexpected friendships that Sheppard made during his time in the country. In particular, he met three outspoken Iranian women, who quickly become central figures in the film. These women met frequently with Sheppard to debate and discuss a variety of issues, including religion, politics in Iran, and gender roles.
By the end of Sheppard’s contract, Iran was in the middle of upheaval; Iranians were taking to the street in protest of the 2009 presidential elections, and the Iranian regime was violently suppressing the reformist Green Movement. The film captures a glimpse of Iran immediately before the elections, through the eyes of an outsider.
Schauder described the initial idea and development of the film:
The Carnegie Middle East Program combines in-depth local knowledge with incisive comparative analysis to examine economic, sociopolitical, and strategic interests in the Arab world. Through detailed country studies and the exploration of key crosscutting themes, the Carnegie Middle East Program, in coordination with the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, provides analysis and recommendations in both English and Arabic that are deeply informed by knowledge and views from the region. The program has special expertise in political reform and Islamist participation in pluralistic politics.
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