Nazanin Afshin-Jam to play in the joint Mel-Gibson, Jack Lenz poduction.
The true story of Mona Mahmudnizhad, the courageous young Baha’i teacher who was martyred in 1983 along with 10 other Baha’i women in the Iranian city of Shiraz, a particularly resounding echo of the painful reality of human rights violations in today’s Iran, is due to start filming in October/November in Malta.
The film, entitled Mona’s Dream, is a $10 million project that entered pre-production last May with the financial backing of Mel Gibson’s Icon Productions film company.
Canadian musician and composer, Jack Lenz, was asked to collaborate with Mel Gibson a few years ago on the musical score of the film The Passion of the Christ. Lenz spent more than a year travelling around the world and researching ancient instruments, cultures and their music to come up with an idea of what kind of music would be historically accurate and appropriate for Mel Gibson’s magnum opus. It was widely expected that he would be named as composer for the movie but later on, Mel Gibson and his associates ended up choosing John Debney for that role. Nevertheless, Lenz continued to work on the project and ended up contributing to many of the original titles and songs in the movie.
Late last year, Mel Gibson and the other producers of The Passion of the Christ met with Jack Lenz in Los Angeles. They wanted to communicate their appreciation for the hard work he had put into the project and asked him how they could return the favour. Jack Lenz replied that it had always been a lifelong dream of his to make an original motion picture about the martyrdom of Mona, a 17-year-old Iranian Baha’i girl.
He then proceeded to tell Mel Gibson and his associates about Mona’s story; how she had been taken away by Iranian authorities and interrogated; how she had been told that she would be, along with nine other women, summarily executed; how she had asked to be hung last so that she would be able to pray for the other women; and how she had met her death with serenity and strength, never wavering in her faith.
Lenz also showed them a letter that Mona had written herself…
According to a recent interview on VOA Persian Service the finished script was finally approved and shooting is supposed to start in Malta by early Fall 2008 and complete post-production is due in March 2009.
An international Cast as Well as High Profile Iranian actors have committed to the project including:
Keisha Castle-Hughes (Oscar-nominated actress from ‘Whale Rider’, also in ‘Star Wars Episode III)
Shohreh Aghdashloo (Oscar-nominated actress from ‘House of Sand and Fog’, also in ’24′, ‘Lake House’ and ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’)
Nazanin Afshin-Jam (Singer/Songwriter and debuting as actress; International Human Rights Activist, and Miss World Canada and Miss World runner-up) as Tahirih.
Mona Mahmudnizhad (1965-June 18, 1983) was a Persian Bahá’í who, together with nine other Bahá’í women, was sentenced to death and hanged in Shiraz because of her membership to the Bahá’í Faith.
Mona Mahmudnizhad was arrested and charged for teaching Bahá’í school classes to children. The Iranian authorities tried to make Mahmudnizhad, and the other arrested Bahá’í women, recant their religious beliefs through torture. However, when the women did not recant they were sentenced to death. At the time of their sentencing, the President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, as well as Human Rights Organizations made a plea for clemency, but the women were hanged on June 18, 1983.