Abjee (aab.gee)- Persian Slang for Sister. Sisters Melody and Safoura Safavi began creating a unique sound and blend of music back in the late 90’s while still living at their parent’s home in Sweden. They formed the seven member band “Abjeez” in 2005 and toured Europe and North America, thrilling international audiences with a multi-cultural musical edge, provocative and dynamic lyrical themes mostly sung in their native Persian tongue (but also in English, Swedish and Spanish). Abjeez’s music is influenced by a mixture of styles which includes Reggae, Flamenco, Ska, Rock and Latin mastered to its’ own description of original melody and songs. Their lyrics contain a wide range of concepts laced with humor, social, political and cultural commentary as well as addressing women’s rights issues.
Abjeez have released three studio albums Hameh (2007), Perfectly Displaced (2009), Paa Sho! (2017) a remix album Who’s Yo Daddy (2007) along with several singles.
Critics have described Abjeez as the first female-led Persian- speaking Reggae/Ska band. Their debut music video Eddeaa was nominated in the short film category at Tribeca Film Festival in New York in 2007. The band has performed in various music and film festivals such as the Rotterdam Film Festival (in the Netherlands) and headlined the world’s largest Pride Festival in Toronto (2017). Abjeez have been described by various commentators as one of the most successful Iranian music group of the 2000s, performing sold out concerts across Europe and North America, including at the legendary Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles, California in December 2010.
Since 2014 the Abjeez sisters have been working tirelessly as a musical duo based out of Stockholm and New York City, collaborating with a variety of prolific international musicians based on the essence of the show. With the release of their lasted album “Paa Sho!” (Stand Up!) Abjeez completed a North American tour in December 2017 which included cities, Boston, New York, Detroit, Toronto, Montreal, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Shortly after receiving her degree from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in film, Lila Yomtoob went on to direct the “perfectly honed” and “razor sharp” (Variety) feature film, “High Life.” Her most recent short, “America 1979” has screened at more than twenty festivals and markets, is distributed by Gravitas Ventures, and is available on Amazon and select VOD platforms. She has directed several digital shorts including content for Nintendo.
Yomtoob’s films have been invited to Clermont Ferrand, Palm Springs International Film Festival, San Francisco Indiefest, Reykjavik International Film Festival, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, Hollyshorts, San Francisco International Asian Film Festival (CAAMfest), Pop Montreal, and The Global Peace Film Festival, amongst others. She has written several award winning grants and has been written up in Variety, The SFist, The Examiner, The Mash-Up Americans, The Jewish Journal, The Montreal Gazette, and more.
The television pilot based on “America 1979” is a selection of IFP Film Week, and a semi finalist at Cinequest, We Screenplay Diverse Voices and Stage 32 Television Writers.
Previously, Yomtoob worked in sound editorial and received an Emmy Award for HBO’s “Baghdad ER.” Along with post production, she has a background in producing and marketing.
Yomtoob grew up in Chicago and Los Angeles, and has recently returned to L.A. after many years in New York. She is an Iranian-Iraqi-Jewish-American.
Naghmeh Farzaneh is an independent Iranian filmmaker and animator based in Chicago. After finishing her BFA in painting in her hometown, Tehran, she found the stories she had to tell were bigger than the surface of a canvas. In her exploration for a new medium she began her first animated film, Trapped in Time. The work received international recognition in many film festivals. In 2011 she immigrated to the United States to continue filmmaking and earned her MFA in Animation at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Naghmeh has done extensive work in two-dimensional animation, collaborative works with independent artists and filmmakers, and served on the juries of several international film festivals. In a short span of time, her latest film Scent of Geranium about her immigration out of Iran was officially selected in more than 60 festivals around the globe and was awarded in prestigious festivals such as the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Animateka Festival, 60th CINE Golden Eagle, San Francisco Independent Film Festival, 47th ASIFA East Animation Festival, Heartland Film Festival and the New Orleans Film Festival. Naghmeh has served on the faculties of the Rochester Institute of Technology, and Hobart and William Smith Colleges. She is currently a faculty member at DePaul University in Chicago where she teaches animation while passionately continuing her career as an independent animator.
Sahand Nikoukar is a filmmaker, artist, and Adjunct Lecturer at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, teaching concepts of sound recording and post-production. He is currently in production on his first feature film, DRIVER113, a psychological noir thriller about surveillance, paranoia, and technology. Other credits include Supervising Sound Editor & Mixer on THE GAMBLE HOUSE, a documentary feature directed by Don Hahn that aired on PBS, Associate Producer & Co-Editor on THEN THERE WAS JOE, an independent feature film by Writer/Director Justin Warren, and Producer on SANCTITY, a short film by Writer/Director Eric Adrian Marshall.
Sara Zia Ebrahimi & Lindsey Martin
Sara Zia Ebrahimi is a curator of film, visual art and new media and for over a decade has produced film screenings and exhibits in the Philadelphia area. She has worked as a consultant with Independent Television Service (ITVS) and with individual independent filmmakers on their engagement and outreach campaigns. Currently, she works as the Program Director at the Leeway Foundation, which funds women and trans* artists in the Philadelphia region who are using their art as a tool for social change. A MFA graduate of Temple University, her own short films have screened internationally and been awarded grants from Chicken & Egg Pictures, Rooftop Films and the Leeway Foundation. Her recent work includes Bailout, a web series which she wrote and directed, and The FBI Blew Up My Ice Skates, an animated short film co-directed with Lindsey Martin, and as a producer of Resistance: the battle of Philadelphia and Recurrence Plot: The Family Circle.
Lindsey Martin is a filmmaker and animator living in Ohio. Her work tends to be humorous takes on the inner workings of families going through crisis, often embracing the absurd. She has screened nationally and internationally including the Slamdance Film Festival, the Philadelphia Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Brooklyn International film festival as well as various conferences and symposiums around the U.S. Lindsey received her BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and her MFA from Temple University. She is currently working on her first feature film, The Tender Wilderness.
Born in California and Raised in Iran, Shahaub was exposed to rich and diverse cultures and experiences, which in turn shaped his passion for performance and storytelling. Receiving his BA from UC Berkeley and MFA from the Academy of Art University, as well as years of training with 87Eleven Action Design, and the Beverly Hills Playhouse, Shahaub strives to continually improve upon his skills and knowledge as a performer and Director. His passions also led him to train Martial Arts in China and compete on the US and Iranian National teams to become an international Gold medalist.
Shideh’s childhood was filled with Sunday’s watching Bill Collins and old Hollywood Movies with her Mother and Grandmother. It seemed interesting to her, that even though these women spoke little ‘Me no English’ they completely understood Robert Redford and Greta Garbo and could tell you every plot, storyline and summary of these films. Quite astonishing she thought this was, considering she was used as their lackey translator everywhere else, but not on Sundays. Cinema really was magical. It was at this young age, that Shideh began to develop a passion for storytelling, and a love of cinema. Completing a bachelor of theatre arts in acting at USQ, Shideh has made a natural progression into screenwriting and directing with a focus on character. Her films have been well received by audiences worldwide, screening at international film festivals including Vancouver, Edmonton, and Flickerfest.