Independent Lens, Global Voices
Marjan Tehrani chronicles her brother's return to Iran to have a traditional Persian wedding and explore his lost heritage.
Priscilla was dazzling nightclub crowds at age nine. But chasing stardom isn’t child’s play when you live in a shelter with struggling parents.
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 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.
Priscilla Star Diaz is one precocious preteen. Living in a shelter with her sister and single father, she discovers that she has a gift. At six years old, she tells her father Jesse, a failed rapper and producer, that she is going to become a rap superstar and make a better life for her family.
It’s clear from the start she’s not waiting for stardom. When she is only nine, Jesse shuttles her to open mic nights at 2 AM in Harlem, where she wows the crowd as much with her chutzpah as with her rhymes.
P-Star Rising is both the tale of a hapless single father trying to recapture his dashed dreams and the rise of a young rap prodigy. Jesse becomes something of a stage father, controlling his daughter’s career and basking in her reflected minor fame. In his eagerness, he signs a contract with Hunc Records to record a debut CD, and is blinded by the $10,000 he receives in return. The family goes from the shelter to a four-bedroom apartment, Priscilla buys some serious pop-star bling and Jesse splurges on an SUV.
The film follows P-Star over several years, and we watch her grow in many ways. She never lights up the Billboard charts, but she does score minor celebrity as part of a tween group known as Reggaeton Niños, and later as a cast member on PBS’s show The Electric Company. She still pursues her rap career and remains steadfast in her ambition.P-Star Rising is a gentle observation about the elusive nature of fame, the determination of youth, and the seductive power of celebrity culture.