HBO documentary on transexuals in Iran coming up in May

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HBO DOCUMENTARIES

presents

BE LIKE OTHERS

A film by Tanaz Eshaghian

Premieres May 20, 2009

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, a country with strict social mores and traditional values, sex-change operations are legal. Over twenty years ago, Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa (religious edict) making sex change permissible for “diagnosed transsexuals.” Yet homosexuality is still punishable by death.

With Iran’s international arms negotiations dominating news headlines worldwide, a very private kind of drama is unfolding behind the scenes. Highly feminine and attracted to members of the same sex, yet forced to live in secret for fear of retribution, a generation of young Iranian men are adopting an identity legally allowed to them—transsexual. In pursuit of what one man calls simply, “a decent life,” they flock to the country’s best-established gender reassignment surgeon, Dr. Bahram Mir Jalali, and are counseled by 24-year-old Vida, a post-op woman who claims to be “reborn” but warns of dangers that still await.

Iranian-American filmmaker Tanaz Eshaghian accompanies several young men as they contemplate and prepare for their transformation, then follows them into and out of surgery. Intimate and unflinching, BE LIKE OTHERS is a fascinating look at those on the fringes of Iranian life—those looking for acceptance through the most radical of means.

About Tanaz Eshagian:
Tanaz Eshaghian was born in Iran in 1974 and left with her mother at the age of six, at the start of the Iran-Iraq war. She grew up in New York City, where she still lives, and graduated from Brown University in 1996 with a BA in Art Semiotics. Tanaz began making films a few years later, with a focus on documenting the Iranian experience in America. In 2001 she made the short documentary I CALL MYSELF PERSIAN. Framed by the Iran hostage crisis of 1979 and the World Trade Center attacks, the film reveals how Iranians living in the U.S. are often stereotyped and held responsible for anti-American activity, and weighs the effects on their identity. Her second film, the 63-minute LOVE IRANIAN-AMERICAN STYLE (2005), was shot over a period of four years and documented her own traditional Iranian family’s obsession with marrying her off. Sexual purity, money and a mother’s worries come together in this humorous guided tour lead by Tanaz through the Iranian-Jewish communities in New York and Los Angeles. BE LIKE OTHERS is her first film set in Iran—a country she had not visited for decades.

TO REQUEST AN INTERVIEW WITH TANAZ ESHAGIAN
OR A SCREENER OF THIS FILM, PLEASE CONTACT:
Lauren Schwartz
Donna Daniels Public Relations, LLC
20 West 22nd Street, Suite 1410
New York, NY 10010

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com