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Leila (a film farsi production)

A feature film in development. Our current team includes Armon Mahdavi (writer, director, co-producer), Aaron Champagne (dp, co-producer), and Nancy Kimball (cast, co-producer). 

Current assets available include a full screenplay draft, pitch deck, visual sample, and a budget. 

Leila is fiscally sponsored by The Gotham.

Director’s statement

After one of my grandmas passed away, I made a point to call my other grandma every Saturday morning. A small gesture, and something I really regretted not doing more often. I frequently think about how these two women’s actions easily had the most impact of anyone in my life. It was their decision to leave their husbands and immigrate to the United States during the 1979 revolution, leaving behind money, comfort, family, and history. But when I would ask them for these stories, they often shrugged them off. It wasn’t heroic to them; it was simply what had to be done.

Moving between my lackluster Farsi and her intermediate English, these calls became part of our weekly routine. We never talked about anything profound; just what we were up to that week, our weekend plans, and how we were feeling. I often thought about how much was unsaid on these calls. If I was going through a hard time, I would never tell her, as that would only cause unnecessary worry. And if she was going through something, she would never tell her youngest grandson, who she will only ever see as a child. But it was all right; just speaking to each other, taking the time to express a bit of affection, was enough.

In its simplest terms, Leila is a film about two generations of an Iranian family in Queens, revolving around a passed-down apartment. Yet what I feel that the film’s format achieves, by showing a week in the life of these three characters separated by 40 years, is the experiences and emotions that are shared but never expressed amongst an immigrant family. Many things change over the years, but what they grapple with is universal: how do you form an identity separated from people and from place? For this family, the apartment is a sanctuary; a living relic of the things that change and the things that do not.

-armon mahdavi