Sydney Levine with Dir. Hossein Keshave and Producer Maryam Ataei
Sydney Levine with Dir. Hossein Keshave and Producer Maryam Ataei

I met and liked this interesting Iranian couple in Paris last week when their feature dramatic film "Eugenia & John" showed in the US In Progress section at Champs Elysee Film Festival.

Hossein Keshave is the Writer / Director and Maryam Ataei produced.

Their families are from Iran and the couple is currently residing together New York City in Morningside Heights.

His parents came from Iran, city of Shiraz and migrated to Brooklyn 1965.

She was born in Tehran where her family was in the TV business.

"Eugenia & John" was one of four US indies competing for finishing funds in the US In Progress section. (It did not win - too bad!! It's a good film.)

The story of this film is about young people stretching, exploring social limits in the US society today.

It tells the New York City story of a 20 something young couple struggling with life, family and social issues and their relationship.

He's an Anglo youth coming from a tough family background. Hossein says. 'John (the film's male character name) has a very hard life precisely because he comes from a working class background.' The film story then is of young people today in the US stretching limits society imposes and exploring their possibilities. Immigration for them is a huge social issue affecting their entire younger generation.

The team of "Eugenia & John" during US in Progress
The team of "Eugenia & John" during US in Progress

She's a Latina beauty struggling with boyfriend and race and class issues which modern America throws at someone - anyone!!! - in her position. From Hossein Keshave, 'I found her situation and struggles and attempts at resolution particularly compelling. This girl has no opportunities simply because she's undocumented.'

Maryam Ataei, the Producer, met the actress they used in the film in an immigrant workshop. The woman came to the US undocumented at 3 years of age and found it hard to get into school. Maryam says that, 'This story in our film tells the difficulties of immigrants here. The woman who inspired the story had to wait years for her green card. Millions suffer like this. It made me, witnessing this, want to tell their story. Our film emotionally connects with the issue of what does it mean to be American now?'

Hossein also told of a very interesting family issue for them. His dad owned property on Staten island and once rented a house to an African American MD. "We were actually threatened by some neighbors because of this.' Social issues seem to predominate in their thinking.

They previously made a very interesting film shot in Iran. "Dog's Sweat" was a feature they co wrote. He Directed and she Produced. About youth in modern Iran. It was photographed completely underground, off the official Iranian government (controlling) radar. Among other topics it deals with the strict government prohibition on alcohol including and especially the home made variety.

That film won an award at Rome FF, showed in Austin FF and LAFF and also was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award.