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Artist Profile: Tara and Parish--transforming Iranian culture one film at a time

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In an industry that is constantly looking for the next big thing, Hollywood need look no further than Parish Rahbar and Tara Moini. The principals of Renovatio Movies are working the film festival circuit with Fade, their beautiful short film about grief, loss, and the memories and emotions that remain. Elegantly filmed and richly detailed, the 13-minute short premiered at this summer's Dances with Films Festival, and is an official selection in three upcoming film festivals: the LA Femme Film Festival (October 17-20), the NOOR Iranian Film Festival (October 18-24), and the Ojai Film Festival (November 7-14).

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What started out as an accidental pairing, is turning out to be a beautiful friendship and partnership.

"Four years ago I was working on my first film that I had written--my husband and I were producing it," Tara said. "I had hired a director who is an Armenian-Iranian man, and he was very nice. We were going to move forward with the short film, but then he got another job which was paying him a lot of money. So he said, 'You know what, I can't do it; but I know this Iranian girl, she's a great director, she's fantastic.' So, we met--"

Parish interjected, "And we shot the first film we did."

That short film, Dudley's Dates is a slapstick comedy about a shlub who is unlucky with women, but at the urging of his therapist, goes on three different dates. Of course, hilarious shenanigans ensue. The 10-minute short film whips by at a good pace with plenty of laughter in between, and frankly, leaves you wanting for more. The score is also catchy and draws you into the telling.

"We had so much fun shooting Dudley's Dates!" Parish exclaimed. So Tara suggested another script where they could partner together.

"I read it, I liked it," Parish continued. "We thought we had a great working relationship, so we decided to form a little company and see where we can flourish and come up with some feature projects."

This actor-writer-producer and writer-director duo mounted Renovatio Movies with the purpose of telling compelling and intimate character-driven stories that resonate on a universal level. With Fade, Tara and Parish found they have a unique chemistry that complements their working styles and creative passions. The bursts of ideas, creativity, and gunfire repartee was evidence of this as we interacted.

Strikingly gorgeous and refined, Tara is polished, yet animated and a bit zany, while the equally gorgeous Parish gives the aura of earthiness laced with a droll sense of humor.

"So this is how we work," Tara began, "I come up with an idea, and she runs with it!"

Parish interrupted, "A million ideas! Every day, she's got 10. It's great; we have a very good back and forth."

Tara continued, "I think it works well together. Because I think we kind of understand each other, and we understand where each of us is better.

"When you're with someone, whether it's a relationship with a husband and wife, or a partnership like this, where I'm strong she might be weak, and where she's weak, I might be strong. So there is no weakness, because together we're strong in every area."

"Yin and Yang," Parish chimed in.

Tara concluded, "Yeah, it fits really well."

The ladies also found they share a common heritage. Both are Iranian-Americans whose families emigrated from Iran when they were young. Tara's family left in 1979, before the Islamic Revolution turned into abject ugliness and bloodshed. Parish's family were not so fortunate and had to flee the country.

"My father was in the military—Air Force. There was a bit of a... he didn't want to stay there in the military fighting a war he didn't believe in. So, he was on an execution list, and that's why we had to flee."

"It's going to make a movie soon," Tara added.

"It's interesting," Parish continued, "Because I was very young. I was like four, four and a half, something like that. But given that, I have vivid memories, little snippets and snapshots almost of those moments of our escape. A lot of it is there."

The rich internal life that results from being strangers in a strange land burgeoned creativity and a unique viewpoint that is a provocative blend for these filmmakers, and is part of their cache.

"It's interesting because I grew up here, so did she," Parish said. "But I consider myself so American. I didn't have any sort of ideas to get into Iranian anything. Tara sort of brought me into that, and it's smart. She's actually very smart; because that's the way we can be a catalyst."

Fade has become their calling card, and has garnered them a place at the NOOR Iranian Film Festival. Tara described the NOOR festival as "a really nice platform, I think, for Iranian films. It's the artistic film festivals that seem to be wanting Fade, because it's not the normal, everyday festival movie."

Parish mused, "It sounds crazy, but I think that's part of the reason why we're doing this. Our culture seems to sterilize everything; they want to make things nice and clean--"

Tara rapidly jumps in, "There are no gays, there is no drugs--nothing bad."

Parish continued, "So it's almost like we want to say, there is bad here or take a look at this."

After two short films, the duo is ready to tackle a feature. "We'll probably have a couple of more festivals that are coming through the beginning of next year, maybe. But our hope is to get into the feature," Tara said.

Parish agreed. "Fade was great--it was a beautiful calling card, a wonderful exercise and everything, but features is where we need to establish ourselves."

The ladies have a script in the works, and hope to use the help of some Iranian resources to gather funding. "We've made a decision that we're not going to let anybody stop us at this point. It's now or never," Tara said.

"If we keep waiting for something else, or if we wait for perfection, it will never happen. So the thought is either we get funding through our resources, our Iranian resources, or we get funding through Indie Go-Go."

Toward this end, they hope to continue to build a platform that allows them to bring their culture into a better light, and break some of the traditional and stereotypical boxes.

"That's the hardest part: there's such rigidity to who you are, where you are, what you are," Parish explained. "Sometimes it's like you have to be put into some sort of a category box."

Tara desires to show a holistic picture of her people. "Iranians don't just consist of women who only care about having a big house. It doesn’t consist of men who are constantly thinking about bombing people. It's men and women in every capacity, in every way, and they're living their lives and doing it in the United States."

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