Maryam - 2002
Directed by Ramin Serry
2002's "Maryam" stands out as the only Hollywood attempt at dramatizing the lives of an Iranian-American family during the US Hostage Crisis. Each character in the movie seems to represent some faction of Iranian-American society from diaspora children with little connection to their heritage to would-be revolutionaries struggling to adapt to American Society.
Color, 1 hour 30 minutes, English/Farsi
The opening credits feature a well-crafted montage of historical footage that includes this famous New Year's Eve toast between Jimmy Carter and Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in which Carter told the Shah, "Iran is an island of stability in one of the more troubled areas of the world."
Young Maryam Armin (played very capably by Mariam Parris) was born in Iran but has been living in the US for most of her life. Her parents left when things became too dangerous. She gives little thought to her parent's homeland until her Iranian cousin comes to live with the family.
Maryam's father Darius (Shaun Toub) introduces his nephew Ali (David Ackert) to the neighborhood. Ali is idealistic, newly religious, and obviously uncomfortable with the flow of alcohol and treatment of women in his new surroundings.
Maryam and her mother Homa (Shohreh Aghdashloo) watch as Ali is introduced. The welcome party they throw for Ali is attended by all of their American neighbors and friends but the popularity of the Armin family will soon change after the taking of the hostages.
After Ali gets into a shouting match with a police officer and is taken into custody, an immigration official makes it clear that "with all the stuff that's going on, we're going to be watching all you 'eyeranians' pretty damn closely."
Darius finds that his favorite hardware store, which is owned by his neighbor, may not desire his business any longer.
Maryam is already having enough troubles when she discovers that her car has been vandalized.
"Camel Jockey Go Home."
By Jeffrey M. Anderson Combustible Celluloid
Here we have a somewhat technically awkward and preachy movie with a good heart in the right place. In this case, the heart wins out, and I find myself remembering it with fondness. "Maryam," which opens today at the Opera Plaza, seems to charge ahead full force, as if unaware or uncaring of its flaws.
"Maryam" begins with a slightly amateurish scene showing high school student Maryam (Mariam Parris) -- who goes by Mary -- in her media class. She and her classmates prepare to tape a video news show. Mary sits in the anchor chair next to the cutest boy in class, Jamie (Victor Jory), while the Barbie-esque Jill (Sabine Singh) manipulates the camera, subtly moving Mary out of frame. Continued
By David Lipfert Offoffoff.com
Despite a few uneven performances, Maryam memorably tells the story of a woman growing up Iranian-American as the 1979 revolution hits and politics invades her ordinary American life.
Although "Maryam" has been on the festival circuit since its completion in 2000, the theme is suddenly relevant. Ramin Serry's absorbing film takes place in 1979 New Jersey and tracks an Iranian-American family before and after the American Embassy takeover. It's deja vu, because the understandable but senseless wave of rage meted out to Muslims and Arabs in post-9/11 America merely repeats anti-Iranian groupthink from two decades earlier.
Maryam (Mariam Parris) -- Mary to her friends -- is your typical white suburban high-achiever with a coveted spot as news anchor for her high school journalism club's features broadcast. Along comes the Islamic Revolution in Iran, and she finds herself unsubtly edged out by her sniping blonde competitors. This is the first time that Maryam realizes her ethnic roots. Although she was born in Iran, America is the only country she has known. Suddenly the sole refuge is her family, headed by a strict doctor father (Shaun Toub) and sympathetic mother (Shoreh Aghdashloo). Not that her parents aren't on the receiving end of frosty snubs by embarrassed friends and neighbors, galvanized by nightly news clips of mass marches back in Iran. Continued
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