Arusi Persian Wedding

Marjan Tehrani chronicles her brother's return to Iran to have a traditional Persian wedding and explore his lost heritage.

Film Signature Image
Independent Lens, Global Voices
Premiere Date
March 17, 2009
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call

Marjan Tehrani

Marjan Tehrani is an independent director and producer from Berkeley, California. She founded the production company Tru Films and has directed and produced Her Israel, which premiered on the Sundance Channel in 2004. She also produced P-Star Rising, a feature documentary that follows a 13-year-old female rap star as she fulfills her father's deferred Show more dreams of making it in the music business. Beyond her independent work, Tehrani has produced several original series for television, including dLIFE TV on CNBC and the Emmy-nominated After School on PBS, which featured celebrity alumni such as Harvey Keitel and Tim Robbins returning to their urban high schools as role models. Through Tru Films, Tehrani is dedicated to promoting dialogue between cultures, sharing the intricate and subtle aspects of identity, and capturing the transformative moments of the human experience with both humor and integrity. Show less

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The Film

For filmmaker Marjan Tehrani and her brother Alex, growing up Iranian American meant that political tensions often impacted their personal lives. Iran and the U.S. broke off their political relationship more than 25 years ago, but still engage in a public war of words and threats. With travel to Iran nearly impossible for many years, Alex and Marjan were stuck interpreting the mostly negative images of Iran in the American media, a conflict that shaped their identities.
When the Tehranis are finally granted their Iranian passports, Alex, a photographer, and his American bride, Heather, an art gallery administrator, decide to make a trip from New York City to Iran to have a Persian wedding — just as Alex’s own Iranian father and American mother did in 1968, when Iran and the U.S. were still allies. But traveling to Iran is complicated. As the couple prepares to leave, they must face the mixed reactions of their parents and friends, reports of war in the Middle East, bureaucratic headaches, and their own nerves. In Arusi Persian Wedding, Marjan accompanies Alex and Heather and documents their journey on film.

Heather has to overcome the objections of her father, whose feelings are colored not only by religious beliefs, but also by political views. A meeting of the two families becomes tense when Alex’s Iranian stepmother asks about American Iranian relations and Heather’s father voices his support of President Bush’s Middle East policies. Arusi Persian Wedding intersperses scenes of Alex and Heather’s travel preparations with documentary footage of historical events in Iran during the latter half of the 20th century, from the expulsion of the British by Prime Minister Mossadegh in 1951 through Ayattolah Khomeini’s rise to power in 1979. This dramatic archival footage reveals how acutely history can affect not only political relationships, but personal relationships as well.

In Tehran, Alex and Heather receive a warm and enthusiastic reception from Alex’s extended family. As the wedding day approaches, the women of the family take charge of preparing Heather for the event, a far more elaborate affair than she expected. The couple also sets out to explore more of the country en route to the wedding site, traveling through lush and desert landscapes, exploring a traditional village and an historic city, and connecting with people of all ages and viewpoints. As they explore Iran on their own terms, their experiences illuminate the humor, passion, and diversity of a rich culture in transition.