THE IRAN JOB, documentary ~ MONDAY, FEB. 3, 7 P.M., Culp Auditorium

This film is a story of people coming together to learn from each other. It celebrates our
shared humanity and it points toward what unites us, rather than what separates us ... I hope the film will help remind us of what's at
stake – in terms of sheer humanity – when we muse about going to war with people we
often know too little about.
 – Till Schauder

Kevin Sheppard, a flashy American point guard, who hails from tiny St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, didn't make it. At least not to the NBA, the highest stage of professional basketball. As a so-called "journeyman" Kevin built a career for himself the hard way - by playing overseas, in countries like Brazil, Venezuela, Spain, China and Israel. Having seen much of the world this way, Kevin accepts a job to play in one of the world's most feared countries, Iran. Kevin's family -- particularly his girlfriend Leah -- is not happy about his decision to play in a country widely considered a safe-haven for Islamic terrorists and suspected of being in pursuit of nuclear weapons. Kevin's fragile relationship with Leah, who's pushing for an engagement ring, is put to the test when Kevin refuses to take her along for the ride. Ultimately the salary is good enough to overcome Kevin's fears; he signs a yearlong contract with A.S. Shiraz, a new team in Iran's Super League.

After his arrival in Shiraz, located in Southwestern Iran - between Persia's ancient capital, Persepolis, and one of the country's nuclear sites - Kevin tries to separate sports from politics and religion only to find that both are impossible to escape in Iran. The scrutiny that comes with being the "American import," the highest paid player, and the only black guy on his club, intensifies the pressure to lead his team to success. But the emotional arc is set outside of the basketball court. Here, the Iran Kevin finds is vibrant and full of intellectual, political and sexual energy. Kevin quickly faces a challenge much greater than basketball when he forms an unlikely alliance with three outspoken Iranian women -- Elaheh, Hilda and Laleh, all in their 20s. These women are attracted to Kevin for different reasons, and they risk much more than broken hearts. In Iran there are serious consequences for unmarried women who socialize with men, particularly foreign men. 

Kevin's apartment becomes an oasis of free speech where he and the women discuss everything from politics, to religion, to sex and gender roles. Kevin's friendship with the women is contrasted by the bond he forms with his teammates -- particularly Mehdi, Ali and Kami -- who offer a male perspective on life in Iran for the under-25 population. Kevin'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. Seeking sports glory in "enemy territory," Kevin instead undergoes a life-changing political and personal awakening while providing his own brand of basketball diplomacy. 

For more, visit the film website. 

VIDEO REVIEW

ReThink Review

REVIEWS

On CNN World Sport

Charlotte Observer


FREE ADMISSION ~ Q&A AND RECEPTION WITH FILMMAKER TO FOLLOW


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