Maryam Keshavarz

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Maryam Keshavarz
New York City, United States
Alma materNYUTisch School of the Arts- MFA Film Direction
University of Michigan, Masters of Arts
Northwestern University, BA
OccupationFilm director, screenwriter

Maryam Keshavarz (Persian: مریم کشاورز‎) is an Iranian-American filmmaker best known for her 2011 film Circumstance distributed by Participant Media and Roadside Attractions, which won the Audience Award at Sundance Film Festival.


Maryam received her BA in Comparative Literature from Northwestern University, an MA in Near Eastern studies from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and an MFA in Film Direction from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. She was also a visiting scholar at the University of Shiraz, Department of Language and Literature.

In 2001, with a band of all girl crew and cast, Maryam directed her first experimental 16mm film, entitled Sanctuary. This surreal fantasy film about an Iranian woman in post-9/11 America traveled to several international festivals and landed Maryam the Steve Tisch fellowship to attend NYU's graduate film program.

In 2003, Maryam drew on her experience growing up between Iran and the United States to direct her first feature documentary, The Color of Love. An intimate portrait of the changing landscape of love and politics in Iran, the documentary showed at international festivals such as Montreal World Film Fest, Full Frame Doc Fest, MoMA New York, It's All True (Brazil), among others; it garnered top prizes such as the International Documentary Association's David L. Wolper Award, Jury Award at DocuDays, and the Full Frame's Spectrum Award. The Color of Love has been broadcast internationally, was released on DVD by Parlour Pictures, and was featured on Danny DeVito's Jersey Docs, a subsidiary of Morgan Freeman's ClickStar.

In 2005, Maryam returned to Argentina, where she had studied Latin American literature at the University of Buenos Aires. There, she wrote and directed the visual essay The Day I Died about an adolescent love triangle in a sleepy Argentine seaside town. The Day I Died has shown in Main Competition at Mar del Plata, Clermont-Ferrand, New York Film Festival and Berlin International Film Festival. The Day I Died was the only short film at Berlinale to win two awards: the Gold Teddy Best Short Film and the Jury Prize Special Mention. The film also won the Jury Prize at the Rio International Film Fest. The film is part of the DVD compilation by Shooting People entitled BEST v BEST VOL. 2: AWARD WINNING SHORT FILMS 2006.

Maryam's first narrative feature fiction film, Circumstance premiered to overwhelming critical acclaim at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, garnering the Sundance Audience Award, leading to Maryam's inclusion in's 2011 Director's to Watch. Circumstance has won over a dozen international awards including Best First Film at the Rome Film Festival and the Audience & Best Actress Awards at Outfest. The Independent Spirit Award nominated film was described by the New York Times as "Swirling and sensuous", by the Wall Street Journal as "Supremely cinematic", and by the Hollywood Reporter as "Amazingly accomplished." The film released theatrically in over a dozen countries in 2012.

More recently, Maryam's newest film project The Last Harem won the prestigious Hearst Screenwriters Grant and the San Francisco Film Society/ KRF Screenwriting Award, while her museum installation work entitled BETWEEN SIGHT AND DESIRE: IMAGINING THE MUSLIM WOMAN won a multi-year grant from Creative Capital. Maryam has also been tapped to co-write and direct the narrative adaptation of the award-winning HBO documentary Hot Coffee.

Maryam is an alumna of the Sundance Screenwriters and Directors Lab, Tribeca Film Institute's All Access Program. She is the recipient of dozens of grants and fellowships including the French Government's Fonds Sud, Rotterdam Film Festivals' Hubert Bals Award, Women in Film's Grant, Adrienne Shelly Award, numerous Sundance fellowships, and multiple San Francisco Film Society grants. She has been a visiting artist at the University of Pennsylvania and guest lecturer at dozens of prestigious international universities. She is an active member of Film Independent serving as a mentor for their Project Involve Initiative and speaking on numerous filmmaking panels.

Personal life[edit]

Keshavarz is bisexual.[2]

Filmography and awards[edit]

Year Film Notes
2003 The Color of Love (رنگ عشق) International Documentary Association – David L. Wolper Award
Full Frame Documentary Film Festival – Spectrum Award
2006 Not for Sale
2006 The Day I Died ("El día que morí") Berlin International Film Festival – Gold Teddy Best Short Film & Jury Prize Special Mention

Rio International Film Festival – Jury Award

2011 Circumstance 2011 Sundance Film Festival – Audience Award

2011 Noor Iranian Film Festival – Audience Favorite Award

2011 Noor Iranian Film Festival – Best Director

2011 Outfest – Audience Award

2011 Paris Lesbian and Feminist Film Festival – Best Feature Film

2011 Rome International Film Festival – Best First Film

2011 New Directors/New Films Festival – Closing Night Film

2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards – John Cassavetes Award Nominee

2018 Viper Club

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Olsen, Mark (2011-08-28). "Young Iran seen through 'Circumstance' and its cosmopolitan crew: Indie Focus – Los Angeles Times". Retrieved 2013-12-05.
  2. ^ Homa Khaleeli (2012-08-23). "Maryam Keshavarz: 'In Iran, anything illegal becomes politically subversive' | Film". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-12-05.

External links[edit]

Maryam Keshavarz's 'Circumstance' Tackles Irian Taboos

review: Fast Times in Islamic State]