DAMSEL – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

Damsel, the new fantasy adventure on Netflix starring Millie Bobby Brown, fits squarely within the performer’s confident, feisty brand. The 20-year-old, also an executive producer here, shot to fame in 2016 as Eleven, a girl with telekinetic and psychic powers, in the Netflix series Stranger Things. In Damsel, Brown plays Elodie, a spirited princess who faces off against a dragon after an arranged marriage ends with her tossed into a pit as a sacrifice. While the film’s title and setup toy with the trope of the damsel in distress, Brown is so self-assured, there’s never any sense that Elodie is in real peril, which saps the film of significant tension.

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THE CUBAN – Review by Lana Wilson-Combs

The Cuban is a beautiful and heartwarming film about compassion, fulfillment, and a soul-saving friendship between a care giver and an elderly nursing home patient who bond over salsa. Louis Gossett Jr headlines the stellar cast that makes this music-filled inspiring drama snap, crackle and pop.

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A SIMPLE WEDDING – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

“I can’t sleep until you get married.” So says Ziba (Shohreh Aghdashloo) to her daughter, Nousha (Tara Grammy). Nousha is not a youngster; she’s an adult who knows her own mind and her own needs… and she has no desire to get married. Certainly not to any of the dull and conservative Iranian men her mom keeps trying to arrange for her.

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SPOTLIGHT February 2020: Sara Zandieh, Filmmaker, A SIMPLE WEDDING

As Hollywood moves to course correct in wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, Iranian-American director Sara Zandieh checks off a lot of requisite boxes, especially the one marked: TALENTED. After changing her career from journalism to writing and directing narrative films, each of her stepping stones has been a milestone.

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A SIMPLE WEDDING – Review by Leslie Combemale

Let’s be honest. There’s really no such thing as a simple wedding. Writer/director Sara Zandieh drives this home in her new rom-com A Simple Wedding, starring the gorgeous and hilarious Tara Grammy. I love seeing films by women that center on women coming from or representing other cultures. It brings me such joy to see an American comedy about an Iranian-American woman, with Iranian co-stars. Even better is having an intergenerational story with three Iranian women, especially when one is learning to balance both American and Iranian cultures in her own life. A Simple Wedding is a wonderful peek into one Iranian family’s experience choosing to live with varying degrees of assimilation while celebrating their own cultural traditions.

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A SIMPLE WEDDING – Review by Sheila Roberts

Love finds you when you least expect it in Sara Zandieh’s hilarious feature debut, A Simple Wedding, inspired by Hafez, Persia’s celebrated 14th century poet known for his lyrical writings about the joys of wine and romance. Zandieh directs from a well-crafted script she co-wrote with Stephanie Wu that melds romantic comedy with cultural conflict to reveal how love, tolerance, trust and understanding can transcend cultural differences, gender bending stereotypes, old grudges, and misguided assumptions about each other.

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Shohreh Aghdashloo On Iran, “Soraya” and Hollywood – MaryAnn Johanson interviews

The release date of Shohreh Aghdashloo’s new film “The Stoning of Soraya M.,” could not be more propitious. As the world watches Iran in the throes of what may be another revolution — and finds a new Iranian heroine in Neda Aghan Soltan, who died in the streets of Tehran and again and again on YouTube and on TV screens around the planet — this film, based on the nonfiction book by journalist Freidoune Sahebjam, presents us with two other, real-life examples of courageous Iranian women: Soraya (Mozhan Marnò), a young woman at the cruel mercy misogynist Islamic law, and her aunt, Zahra (Aghdashloo), who dared to ensure that her story was known to the outside world.

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