In January this year, the husband and wife filmmaking team of Sara Nodjoumi and Till Schauder (Partner Pictures), reached an ambitious crowd-fundraising goal of $100,000 for completion funds. Now the pair have raised another $66,000 for distribution.
“After working on this film for over four years we are thrilled by the worldwide interest and overjoyed by the outpouring of support,” said Nodjoumi, the film’s producer. “Our backers come from all corners of the world. It motivates us to work towards the widest possible release in the US and internationally.”
The Iran Job tells the real-life story of Kevin Sheppard, a professional American basketball player who, when he doesn’t make it to the NBA, takes a job playing professional ball in Iran. With tensions running high between Iran and the West, Sheppard tries to separate sports from politics, only to find that politics is impossible to escape in Iran.
Along the way he forms friendships with his teammates and three young Iranian women, turning his apartment into an oasis of free speech, where they discuss everything from politics to religion to gender roles. Sheppard’s season in Iran culminates in something much bigger than basketball: the uprising and subsequent suppression of Iran’s reformist Green Movement – a powerful prelude to the currently unfolding Arab Spring.
The Iran Job is directed and photographed by Till Schauder, and executive produced by Abigail Disney (Fork Films).
Schauder, a German citizen, filmed Sheppard in Iran over several visits as a one-man-crew using minimal equipment, each time entering with a tourist visa issued freely to Germans. That was fine until his last trip – in the run-up to Iran’s 2009 election – when he was put in detention at Tehran airport. He was sent back to New York on the next plane, which the film’s producers viewed as a stroke of luck given the number of filmmakers and journalists recently arrested in Iran.
The Iran Job’s latest Kickstarter campaign coincided with the film’s Academy qualifying US release in New York and its box office success there has seen its theatrical run extended three times. The film also opens in Jacksonville, Florida this week, with more releases to follow.
Since playing in the US, The Iran Job has signed a distribution deal in Germany and has had distribution requests from the UK, Japan and Israel. Basketball player Kevin Sheppard will appear on the Colbert Report on 8 November, 2012 to discuss the film.
Executive producer Abigail Disney said: “The Iran Job is a great reminder of how woefully tiny and warped a view of Iran we have in the US. Stories are the currency of our hearts. They glue us all together. It is good stories – not good fences – hat make good neighbours. As the saber-rattling grows – and it will continue to grow as we approach November – I’d like to push back with something true.”