Delnaz Abadi was born in Tehran, Iran. She was a first-year college student when the 1979 revolution toppled the dictatorial regime of the Shah of Iran. Like most youth of her generation she was intrigued by the revolution and participated in it with high hopes. But the regime that replaced the Shah turned out to be a much harsher dictatorship: an Islamic theocracy. When two years after the revolution the Islamic regime launched a reign of terror to decimate all opposition groups, Delnaz who was still politically active went underground. In 1984 she fled Iran and sought political asylum in the United States. Delnaz was trained as a computer programmer and worked in the industry for more than 20 years. In 2004 she decided to learn film making in order to tell the many tragic stories of Iran’s failed revolution. “The Secret Fatwa” is her first feature-length documentary. She has also worked as a co-producer for the documentary “The Dogtown Redemption” by Amir Soltani.
Amir Soltani is an Iranian-American is a writer, journalist, filmmaker and human rights activist. His graphic novel, “Zahra’s Paradise”, has become a global multi-media phenomenon. His documentary film “Dogtown Redemption” won the MVFF Audience Favorite Award in 2015 and is going to be aired on PBS in 2016. What Amir brings to this project is the conceptual powers and gifts of the storyteller, the passion of the human rights activist and the skills of the community builder. Amir studied social and intellectual history at Tufts and Harvard.
Denise Zmekhol is an award-winning producer and director. She creates documentary films, commercials, and innovative transmedia projects. Zmekhol’s Children of the Amazon, a PBS feature documentary, takes you on a journey into the Amazon in search of the indigenous children she had photographed 15 years earlier. Her work has been recognized for its unique visual style, deft storytelling, empathy, and elegance. Denise co-produced and co-directed Digital Journey, a 39-part Emmy Award winning public television series exploring emerging technologies. She is currently a co-producer on Amir Soltani’s Dogtown Redemption, a film about poverty and recyclers in West Oakland. The film will broadcast on Independent Lens Spring 2016.
Rachel Mercy Simpson has worked on over thirty films, focusing on community-based, collaborative video and documentary projects. Her “Spinning Grace” video on wheelchair-bound dancers was broadcast on network news in California. The trailer she shot and co-directed for “Traces of the Trade” helped raise over $250,000 in grant money. Rachel has been teaching video production and other multimedia classes for many years at Berkeley City College. Currently she is the Department Chair of Multimedia Arts- Berkeley City College.
Gunnard Doboze writes music for film and television. His work has been featured on HBO, Showtime, A&E, as well as numerous other television networks around the world. Some of Gunnard’s recent work includes the 2012 Academy Award winning documentary short “Saving Face”, the HBO documentary “The Last Campaign” (2010 Academy Award nominated documentary) as well as “Connected: An Autoblogography About Love, Death & Technology” which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.