Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
How Quentin Tarantino & Robert Rodriguez Made Josh Brolin's 'No Country For Old Men' Audition Tape How Quentin Tarantino & Robert Rodriguez Made Josh Brolin's 'No Country For Old Men' Audition Tape 'MacGyver' Movie Reboot And New TV Series Pilot On The Way 'MacGyver' Movie Reboot And New TV Series Pilot On The Way Josh Brolin Says He's Starring With Jessica Chastain In A Movie About George Jones & Tammy Wynette Josh Brolin Says He's Starring With Jessica Chastain In A Movie About George Jones & Tammy Wynette Watch: Robert Richardson Explains Why He Took His Name Off 'World War Z' And More In 58-Minute Cinematographer Talk Watch: Robert Richardson Explains Why He Took His Name Off 'World War Z' And More In 58-Minute Cinematographer Talk George Miller Says He Originally Wanted The Music In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' To Only Come From The Doof Warrior George Miller Says He Originally Wanted The Music In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' To Only Come From The Doof Warrior Review: Coen Brothers' 'Hail, Caesar!' Starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, And More Review: Coen Brothers' 'Hail, Caesar!' Starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, And More Naomi Watts Confirmed For David Lynch’s ‘Twin Peaks’ Revival; Tom Sizemore Joins Cast Naomi Watts Confirmed For David Lynch’s ‘Twin Peaks’ Revival; Tom Sizemore Joins Cast Watch: Quentin Tarantino Talks 5 Movies To Watch Before 'The Hateful Eight' In 7-Minute Video Watch: Quentin Tarantino Talks 5 Movies To Watch Before 'The Hateful Eight' In 7-Minute Video SAG Award Winners: ‘Spotlight’ Wins Best Ensemble, Leonardo DiCaprio, Idris Elba & Brie Larson Also Score Big SAG Award Winners: ‘Spotlight’ Wins Best Ensemble, Leonardo DiCaprio, Idris Elba & Brie Larson Also Score Big Review: ‘Jane Got A Gun’ Starring Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton & Ewan McGregor Review: ‘Jane Got A Gun’ Starring Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton & Ewan McGregor Mel Gibson Gave Nate Parker Advice On Making 'The Birth Of A Nation' Mel Gibson Gave Nate Parker Advice On Making 'The Birth Of A Nation' The 25 Most Anticipated New TV Shows Of 2016 The 25 Most Anticipated New TV Shows Of 2016 The 20 Best Documentaries Of 2015 The 20 Best Documentaries Of 2015 The 20 Best Films Of 2015 The 20 Best Films Of 2015 The 25 Best Action Movies Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Action Movies Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Sci-Fi Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Sci-Fi Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far Terry Gilliam Talks The "Simplistic" Films Of Steven Spielberg, Dumbing Down Of Audiences, 'Don Quixote' Start Date & More Terry Gilliam Talks The "Simplistic" Films Of Steven Spielberg, Dumbing Down Of Audiences, 'Don Quixote' Start Date & More

'The Iran Job' Filmmaker Till Schauder & Subject Kevin Sheppard Talk Iranian Basketball Fans, Crossing Culture Barriers & More

Photo of Katie Walsh By Katie Walsh | The Playlist September 26, 2012 at 10:04AM

When the documentary “The Iran Job” premiered at LA Film Festival earlier this summer, it was met with such a warm response that the festival had to add another screening to the schedule to accommodate the demand. This was due in no small part to the winning personality of subject Kevin Sheppard, a professional basketball player from St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, hired to play on an Iranian basketball team, and the genuinely moving and topical film that director Till Schauder crafted out of one man’s journey. Our review said the film was, “a highly entertaining, moving documentary that offers a unique perspective on the country through this one man.”
0
Til Schauder Kevin Sheppard

When the documentary “The Iran Job” premiered at LA Film Festival earlier this summer, it was met with such a warm response that the festival had to add another screening to the schedule to accommodate the demand. This was due in no small part to the winning personality of subject Kevin Sheppard, a professional basketball player from St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, hired to play on an Iranian basketball team, and the genuinely moving and topical film that director Till Schauder crafted out of one man’s journey. Our review said the film was, “a highly entertaining, moving documentary that offers a unique perspective on the country through this one man.”

We got a chance to sit down with Sheppard and Schauder in Los Angeles as they promoted the film in anticipation of its Los Angeles release at the Laemmle Music Hall and Town Center theaters on Friday, September 28th. The film will open in New York on October 12th at the IFC Center. They are hoping to distribute the film widely with the help of a Kickstarter campaign, bringing this tale of cross-cultural understanding to a larger audience in the U.S. The filmmakers discussed the similarities in documentary and fiction films, how basketball can break down cultural barriers and be a vehicle for talking about serious international issues, and the importance of humor in opening viewers up to new experiences.

The Iran Job
The “casting” of the documentary was just as important to Schauder as it would be in making a fiction film.
Schauder described what he was looking for in a subject and what he found in Sheppard, saying, “I knew from my background as a fiction filmmaker that at the end of the day, your characters are what makes a movie. In the case of a documentary where there’s not a script, where you cannot enhance things artificially, the character becomes even more important, because you really rely on that person to create something by virtue of his personality. What I was looking for, most of all, was somebody who doesn’t censor himself.” In addition to being a natural in front of the camera, Schauder appreciated that Sheppard is “perceptive, you could see that right away, he’s smart and intelligent, and on top of that, he’s really funny and that is a great quality, especially when you’re making a film that has the potential to touch some subjects that are serious...I felt that if we can get people to laugh, it will open them up.”

The Iran Job
Embarking on the filmmaking process wasn’t easy for Sheppard, but he decided to do it to help dispel some cultural stereotypes about Iran and his lifestyle as a journeyman basketball player.
Sheppard said, “When I was at home in the Virgin Islands, a lot of my friends would call me and make a lot of jokes, ‘Did you ride camels to practice today? Did you drink camel soup today?’ They would make all these ridiculous statements. I said, well maybe I should do this movie and give them an opportunity to see how I live, and maybe it will change their perception of the Iranian people, which they knew nothing about. This could be a good opportunity for them, to go on a journey with me, and hopefully I can change their minds.” In his relationship with the director, Sheppard said the good thing was that Schauder “never told me what to do, he just let me be myself, it became natural to me. I could just be myself, and sooner or later it just became invisible to me, not only to me but to all of us.”

Additionally, Sheppard commented on his ability to remain true to himself while in a foreign culture and on camera, saying, “I always have an open mind wherever I go and wherever I play. So I respect no matter what. But I always bring my culture into it too so you can have an idea of what I’m like. And I always said 'There’s no faking me,' so what you see is what you get. So that’s how I am at home, with my family, with my friends... what he [Schauder] saw in St. Croix was the same that he saw in Iran. I’m the same no matter what. But I am conscious enough to know when to go over my boundaries and when to step back.”

This article is related to: Interviews, The Iran Job


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates