Forever Under Construction

Cyrus by Katy

Posted in Cyrus The Great, Human Rights, Iran, Iraq, Movie by homeyra on November 15, 2006

In the previous post I wrote about the making of “In search of Cyrus the Great” by Spenta Productions, and the adventures of Cyrus Kar, the Iranian born American film maker, who has set out to make this epic about the Persian Emperor whose Manifest of Human Rights inspired people and governments for centuries.

About Kar’s misadventures while filming on location in Iraq, his cousin, Katy, has been kind enough to write the following:

“Thank you for posting and bringing attention to this story. Cyrus is my cousin, so I know his story of being captured in Iraq very well. He and his camera man, Farshid Faraji (award wining Iranian camera man) got into a taxi cab. At a nearby checkpoint in Baghdad, Iraqi police searched the cab and they found washing machine timers in the trunk, which can be used as IEDs. Though the cab driver did admit that his passengers had nothing to do with the washing machine timers, Cyrus, Farshid along with the cabbie were taken to Abu Gharib where they were treated horribly and feared for their lives. Cyrus and Farshid’s family did not know if they were alive or dead for almost 2 weeks. They were not allowed a phone call home or any kind of due process until my family and the ACLU filed a lawsuit. Cyrus spent most of his 2 months in prison in a closet sized cell in solitary confinement. Because Cyrus was an American citizen (and FYI Navy veteran I might add) he was taken to another facility – Camp Cropper – where high profile detainees are held. Farshid stayed in AbuGharib crammed in a cell with Arab detainees, whom he could not communicate with because he only speaks Persian (not like any of the soldiers cared).
I can’t begin to describe the helplessness of what its like when the government has such unjust control over your family’s fate.

Cyrus was filming footage of ancient Babel (in Iraq) to tell his story about Cyrus the Great. A lot of his still footage was stolen and he did not get to complete his project and continues to raise money to finish this project that means everything to him. I’m just grateful that he’s home and hope he never goes back.”

Update: Cyrus & Rumsfeld
Update 07/1/09 : Interview in Persian Mirror

Cyrus & Cyrus

Posted in Cyrus The Great, Human Rights, Iran, Iraq, Movie by homeyra on November 14, 2006

Thanks to my very dear friend Farrokh A. for the following link.

Spenta Productions […was founded by Cyrus Kar with one simple mission: to shed light on history’s most pivotal moments… In a time of mounting hostility between East and West, few figures of history offer the unifying effect Cyrus The Great does. A factual film about this eastern conqueror …will give the West a better understanding of Middle-Eastern history… we are committed to reporting history, based on the latest scientific data, devoid of political or demographic bias…]

In order to make this documentary Cyrus Kar travelled to Afghanistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkey and finally Iraq.

[…The purpose of this film is two fold. First, it will show the West that Middle Easterners once shared many of the same values we consider “western values” today. Second it will show Middle Easterners that gender equality, religious freedom, and due process are not trappings of western neo-imperialism, but were once celebrated by their own ancestors…]

Here, is a preview of this movie.
But the story of Cyrus Kar, as you may know, had an unexpected twist:

I remember reading “The Iranian born American film director Cyrus Kar was captured by US forces in Iraq.”
This article was published by the time Cyrus was in capture, I can imagine that Mr. Kar’s family and friends had to say whatever they could in order to convince the authorities of his innocence.
Cyrus “had been ashamed of being Iranian. Reading about Cyrus the Great, he had felt a real sense of pride in what he thought was the real Iran – this tolerant, benevolent empire …And he started on this quest.” Mr. Kar is described “as more right-wing than many of his colleagues, saying he believed in everything which is American.”
But I love Mr. Kar’ optimism:
Imagine entering the Mess-opotamia… in 2005 … from Iran … with an American passport with this “born in Iran” thing … accompanied by someone named Farshid Faraji of Middle-Eastern persuasion- the cameraman. I guess the luggage consisted of some out of shape black boxes! Next thing you learn is that Cyrus “was alleged to have been smuggling washing machine timers for use in improvised explosive devices in a taxi he was riding in to Baghdad”

The saga continues with …”Do you actually have lawyers here?” Mr. Kar inquired. “No,” he quoted the agent as explaining. “The last guy who requested one is still waiting two years later, in Afghanistan.” NYT

I don’t know what happened to the taxi driver, but Cyrus and Farshid after having visited, among other places, Abou Ghraib got out of all that Mess… after 55 days of detention.

The First Charter Of Human Rights: Written By The Persian Emperor
O’Reilly wrongly accused Cyrus Kar of possessing bomb timers, July 2005 Cyrus Kar
American Detained in Iraq Released, ACLU, July 2005

Update: Cyrus & Rumsfeld
Update 07/1/09 : Interview in Persian Mirror