Segments in this Video

Image of America (02:48)


Listen to a brief overview of Iranian history. Former mayor of Beverly Hills, Jimmy Delshad, describes how he regarded America. Nahid Pirnezar-Oberman describes her childhood in Tehran.

Virtually Unchallenged Authority (02:09)

Iranian Americans discuss the influence of American culture, like film and comic books, on their childhoods. In 1925, army officer Reza Pahlavi became the shah of Iran, while his son, Mohammad Reza took over in 1941. Iran and the United States worked closely.

Ushering in Ayatollah Khomeini (03:55)

In the 1970s, tens of thousands of Iranian Americans immigrated to the United States for work and for education. Speakers say they anticipated moving to the U.S. for work and then returning home, but the Iranian Revolution changed everything for these immigrants. In 1979, the secular government ended and the shah fled with his family.

A Choice to Make (03:07)

After the revolution, tens of thousands Iranians fled the country, intending to leave for a few weeks. Individuals including comedian Maz Jobrani and Professor Saba Soomekh describe their unusual moving circumstances. November 10, 1979 saw a complete severance of ties between Iran and the U.S., prior to political turmoil between Iran and Iraq.

Sense of Insecurity (02:54)

The hostage crisis in Iran drastically increased tensions between Americans and Iranians in America. Iranians living in the west began referring to themselves as "Persian" rather than Iranian. Soomekh details the way Iranians in the Jewish communities played up their Jewish identities.

Back to my Country (03:57)

Artist Shirin Neshat describes the separation anxiety, pain, and suffering of the Iranians in America. Delshad says that many Iranians waited eagerly for the moment they could return to Iran. For many, returning permanently was impossible due to political positions, employment, and religion.

Settling Across the Country (02:42)

Over time, Iranian immigrants that clung to the hope they could return to their country began to come to terms with the permanence of their places in the United States. Most Iranians began living in Los Angeles, but other major cities also became home to communities of Iranians. Roughly 80,000 Jews left Iran, moving primarily to Los Angeles and New York.

Stereotypical Middle Eastern (03:01)

An Iranian dancer became a dancer at a cabaret-themed as Tehran in Los Angeles. After some time, Iranian television became a choice in America. Haleh Farmanara describes the problems people had with her and her husband's names, leading them to transition from Haleh and Farhad to Holly and Fred.

Away to College (03:29)

Soomekh and Houman Sarshar emphasize the importance of immediate and extended family in Iranian culture. The cultural response to Soomekh getting into U.C. Berkeley and going to school was confusion.

Remaining Part of Identity (04:00)

Orkideh Pourjafar describes enrolling her children into a school to speak Farsi. Hamid Biglari and Bita Adabi talk about the importance and practice of speaking Farsi with their families. Jobrani details the poetic nature of Iranian speech.

Need to Feed People (02:04)

Houman and author Firoozeh Dumas speak about the Iranian cultural practice of dining and sharing food with family. Dumas expands upon the internal instinct she feels to feed any visitors to her home. Lilia and Ashton Farmanara talk about their mother Haleh feeding friends.

Favorite Foods and Recipes (02:34)

Speakers tell about their specific food practices they favor at their own homes. Listen to recipe tips and anecdotes. Mashti Shirvant tells about his ice cream store, Mashti Malone's Ice Cream.

Smells Like Now Ruz (03:41)

Jormani shares about the Persian New Year, which always falls on the first day of spring. Dancer Mamad Khordadian describes his homesickness for being home during the first day of spring.

Free to Talk (03:42)

Khordadian felt forced to adopt another country, but the experience was bittersweet. Delshad and the Balassanian couple reminisce on acquiring American citizenship.

Country of Immigrants (03:52)

Pirnazar-Oberman communicates her intention to balance her identities as Iranian, Jewish, and American. Other speakers expand upon their multiple heritages and how they balance their myriad identities.

Support From World Community (03:40)

In 2000, Firouz Naderi was approached by NASA, asking him to become the Mars program manager. Following the press release, thousands of emails came flooding into Naderi from Iranians celebrating him. Delshad shares his reasons for running for mayor.

Credits: The Iranian Americans (03:31)

Credits: The Iranian Americans

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The Iranian Americans

3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Filmed around the United States—from Los Angeles to Washington, DC—this documentary chronicles the underreported history of a group of immigrants finding refuge, overcoming adversity and ultimately creating new lives in the United States. Even though Iran is in the news virtually every day, many Americans have little knowledge of the story of the hundreds of thousands of Iranians who live in the U.S.

Length: 56 minutes

Item#: BVL129837

Copyright date: ©2012

Closed Captioned

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The Iranian Americans

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