By Iman Sadri
On March 18, I was privileged to attend the screening of Iran: The Forgotten Glory at a MAKAN foundation event at the campus of UC Irvine. This critically acclaimed film capturing the majesty and mystique of the Ancient Persian empire is a journey into the heart of the Achaemenid and Sassanid dynasties. The MAKAN foundation event was an inspirational segway to the Persian New Year, as it fell 24 hours before the eve of Nowrooz 1391. The multi-faceted cultural evening promoted the art, music and film of young Iranians caring the torch of Persian enlightenment. On stage the santoor was in full effect. As was the tombak. The piano was striking its elegant chords at the hands of two talented pianists. Some danced to traditional Persian folk music. Others displayed art that would make even the biggest purists of cubism proud. However, the highlight of the evening was the aforementioned film. Part 1 of Iran: The Forgotten Glory was shown to a roaring crowd applauding its vibrancy and rich historical detail. A film prolific enough to be shown on PBS (as it was in 2010) and the winner of several prestigious film awards including Best Documentary at the Bogota International Film Festival in 2009.
The film was a fitting opening act for the MAKAN Foundation; an organization that celebrates the life of Makan Karandish, helps other Iranians pursue their artistic endeavors through grants and scholarships and lastly provides funds for orphanages in Karandish’s hometown of Shiraz.
Makan Karandish was a prolific young Iranian American artist, who left an inspired legacy. He left us way too soon in 2011 at the age of 31. He was a filmmaker, writer and artist in every sense of the word. His pursuits were to promote the glory and rich culture of the Persian ethos. These pursuits were partly motivated to right the wrongs of the Post 9-11 Iranian identity. Makan’s drive was to educate the public on Iran’s deep rooted history dating back to ancient antiquity, and remind us of a brooding sophistication of the era of Xerxes, Darius and Cyrus the Great. Many new details emerge from his film. Details in which even the most ardent of historians can walk away with a new piece of knowledge. I had traveled to Shiraz and Persepolis in 2008 with my father and was awestruck by the grandiose columns still standing on the ancient grounds that was the epicenter of the world over 2000 years ago. However, despite my audacity to think I knew everything there was to know about Ancient Persia because of my day long visit there one June afternoon, I learned a lot of new facts by watching Iran: The Forgotten Glory.
The film digs deeper into the archives of knowledge because Karandish spent five years of his own young life in Southern Iran gathering data, interviewing academics and immersing himself to capture unknown details and facts. Dr Touraj Daryaee, Howard C. Baskerville Professor in the History of Iran and the Associate Director of the Dr. Samuel M. Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture at the University of California, Irvine calls the film “ Inspirational” and “ A gift for young Iranians and artists that Makan has left the world.” To be shown on PBS means that his film is an unbiased historical outlook on Ancient Persian. As new information emerges from his documentary, we are left to wonder in even more amazement about the achievement of Iranian forefathers several millennia ago.
The MAKAN Foundation event provided the audience with Part One of Iran: The Forgotten Glory, poetry, art, music and inspiration. Dr Kaveh Karandish, Makan’s older brother is a Miami based physician and a prolific pianist. He dazzled the audience with songs from his latest album, Rain. Maziar Karandish, the youngest of the Karandish clan played an inspirational variety of instruments, none more unique than an Indian version of the Santoor. Included in the event was Makan’s father, the Senior Dr Karandish playing a poignant piano ballad. Other artists presented inspired works unique to their own style. Many of the paintings and sketches were on display in the exhibit hall adjacent to the packed Crystal Cove auditorium. The legacy of Makan Karandish is already forever entrenched in his award winning films and documentaries. The MAKAN foundation however preserves and progresses his contributions to art and humanity. It also serves as a philanthropic mechanism to encourage more future artists to live their dreams out loud and share their creativity. There is much work to be done, awareness to be raised, and money to be donated to abet the orphanages of Shiraz. However, with social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook and word of mouth advancement the non-profit MAKAN foundation can reach its true potential.
For more information visit makanfoundation.org
Iman Sadri is a cosmetic dentist and writer based in Irvine, California. He is a graduate of NYU and he covered the Sacramento Kings for The Current at American River College. He is a Kings beat writer for bleacherreport.com and sactownroyalty.com. He is a cultural and entertainment contributor for Persianmirror.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org