Bam 6.6: Humanity Has No Borders

Bam 6.6: Humanity Has No Borders

A screening of the film and discussion withthe director and producer Jahangir Golestan-Parast

Sunday, May 24, 2009
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Dodd Hall 147
Los Angeles, CA 90095

In December 2003, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck the ancient Iranian city of Bam. It came without warning and reduced its 2,000-year-old citadel to rubble. It also claimed over 40,000 lives - nearly half the city’s entire population.  

It is impossible to imagine devastation on this scale. The horrendous loss of lives continues to affect the people of Iran to this day, and the cultural loss suffered is almost impossible to calculate. As with many disasters, however, the horror of the earthquake and resulting recovery efforts brought forth the very best in human spirit.

Bam 6.6: The story

Set against this backdrop of destruction, Bam 6.6 is a story of human hope, love and sacrifice. The film weaves together stories of survival, healing and recovery. It tells the story firsthand - in the words of the people who lived through the horror.

The documentary centers on two young Jewish-American tourists visiting Bam at the time of the earthquake. Adele Freedman and Tobb Del’Oro were buried in rubble when their guest house collapsed on top of them. Adele recounts how she and her fiancé Tobb had planned their dream vacation, and the red tape they had to cut through to make it happen. Her mother recalls disturbing premonitions, fears that her daughter was in serious danger.

The movie also tells of the Iranian tour guide who fought her way through the ruined city to find the American couple and pull them out of the rubble. It portrays the loving care of the medical staff who treated the young couple like royalty and refused to take any payment for their medical care. This story is delicately interwoven with the experiences of Iranian survivors and the resiliency of the children.

Immediate post-quake interviews with Iranian victims, who lost entire families and all physical possessions, are offset by their humble hospitality as they shared what little was left. They illustrate beautifully that disaster is oblivious to human variables of race, religion and politics.

The film captures an amazing selflessness and remarkable level of hospitality from the victims as well as the international relief and rescue workers. The sobering and unspoken reality of the film is the lack of any political, racial or religious enmity amongst the people. Throughout the film, there is only a sense of love and hope.

A positive focus

Bam 6.6 was created to build a humanitarian bridge between cultures and break down stereotypical images fostered by political agendas. It seeks to help viewers understand the rich cultural heritage of Iran and the true spiritual doctrine of Islam. This is achieved through education and exposure to actual individuals who are struggling to survive, while remaining true to their core beliefs of hospitality and service to one another.

The filmmaker

Jahangir Golestan-Parast, the producer and director of Bam 6.6, was born in Esfahan in 1953, and raised in a family of restaurateurs. Leaving Iran at age 17, he studied and worked in London and Paris before finally settling in southern California's Orange County. An international financier and UCLA film student, Golestan-Parast released his first documentary Esfahan: A City Known as Half the World in 1997. This was followed with Iran: A Video Journey (2000) and Bam 6.6, Humanity Has No Borders (2008).

His desire to make films was initially kindled as a young teenager watching American films in Iranian movie theaters. Many years later, the personal abuse depicted in Sally Fields’ Not Without My Daughter moved him to action. It solidified an overwhelming passion to inform and educate the world about the true texture of the Iranian culture and people.

Director’s statement

‘Bam 6.6 is a labor of love with a message of hope for the world. It is not about the devastation of a deadly earthquake. That is merely the backdrop to a story about the incredible nature of the human spirit.

‘Today’s world is in disarray. Coalitions are formed through political expediency and media manipulation. The worldwide result seems to generate disparate attitudes, as opposed to cohesion. Yet from prophets to philosophers to popes, the great minds of history have shown that interaction between individuals is critical to the harmonious resolution of difficulties. This is why I produced Bam 6.6.

‘This is a true story. This is Adele and Tobb’s story. Everything you see in this film is through their eyes. Nothing has been exaggerated. This film is dedicated to people of Iran for being so kind to these American tourists, and to all those who went out of their way to provide true hospitality to our guests.

‘Bam 6.6 is a story of hope and love set in the horrors of a major disaster. It is a testament to the human spirit. It is evidence that differences in culture need not create rifts between human beings. It is proof that there is a precious commonality between people that needs to be nurtured to fulfillment.’

- Jahangir Golestan-Parast

Cost : Free and Open to the Public

Amy Bruinooge, Center for Near Eastern Studies
(310) 825-1181

Sponsor(s): Center for Near Eastern Studies