A Simple Wedding – Interview With Director Sara Zandieh
Enjoy an “Insider” interview with first time director Sara Zandieh
by Tonya Mantooth, CEO & Artistic Director, San Diego International Film Festival
TM: What challenges did you overcome to make the film?
SZ: Finding independent producers and investors willing to take a chance on a first-time feature director is really challenging. What’s more, I couldn’t make this film within the Hollywood system, so I made it outside of it and even became a producer. I didn’t have the budget to hire a big team so I had to wear many hats and get involved in every stage of the process. My core team was small but very hard-working — they also had a DIY attitude and helped me get it across the finish.
TM: You don’t see an American-Iranian Rom-Com everyday. Why was it important for you to tell, not only a romantic cultural story, but also a story about universal love?
SZ: It felt like a good time to make a movie with a tremendous heart — to tell a story that celebrates human universals of love and family. Given our divisive times, we need stories that remind us that we’re all more similar than we think, and that embracing our differences is what makes the world so interesting. Diversity is something to celebrate.
I also wanted to represent Iranians the way I know them — as fun-loving, kind and adaptable. With Iran constantly in the political crosshairs, our wonderful culture and enthusiasm for arts and culture gets buried under politics.
The story is also specific to my experience and somehow the more specific you are, the more universal it becomes. I think a lot of people from different backgrounds and lifestyles can relate to the characters in this film.
TM: How did you get Rita Wilson and Shohreh Aghdashloo involved?
SZ: I sent Rita the script through her agent and she actually called me back! She liked the story and understood my vision. After she came on board, I told her my dream was for Shohreh to play the Iranian mother. As it happens, they are good friends. So, she called her and got me a meeting with her. After meeting with Shohreh, she decided to join our cast! They are good friends so they saw it as an opportunity to get to work together.
TM: A Simple Wedding was your first feature film and you had the great fortune of working with such a seasoned cast. What was that like?
SZ: Amazing. Working with veteran actors is a dream. They were all so prepared and professional, every take felt like a gem. My entire cast did such a great job. Everyone brought so much enthusiasm and life to their characters.
TM: As a female director, writer and producer what opportunities are more open for you now as opposed to 5 years ago?
SZ: Yes, I think Hollywood is opening up to new and diverse voices. With the success of so many multicultural films and TV shows, we are seeing that there is an audience for diverse stories. Everyone wants to see themselves represented on screen.
TM: What are you working now?
SZ: I’m working on a new screenplay. I also just directed an episode of NBC’s Good Girls which was such a wonderful show. Working on female forward content that I believe in is very fulfilling.
A quick message from director Sara Zandieh
Watch A Simple Wedding now – Available on Amazon Prime
Synopsis: A young Iranian-American woman goes to great lengths to appease her parents and their need to see her settled down.
Cast: Tara Grammy, Christopher O’Shea, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Rita Wilson
Directed: Sara Zandieh
Sara Zandieh – DIRECTOR
About Sara Zandieh:
Sara Zandieh is an Iranian-American filmmaker whose 2010 short film, The Pool Party, won a Jury prize at the Tribeca Film Festival and screened at festivals worldwide. Her next short, Reza Hassani Goes to the Mall, starring Max Jobrani, premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and won the Focus Features Best Film Award at the Columbia University Film Festival. She recently directed an episode of MTV’s critically acclaimed documentary series, Rebel Music. Sara holds an MFA in film directing from Columbia University’s School of Arts, is a recipient of the Fulbright Grant for filmmaking, the La Femis director’s workshop, and a MacDowell Colony fellowship. Her newest feature film, A Simple Wedding, a romantic comedy starring Rita Wilson, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Tara Grammy, and Christopher O’Shea will soon be in theaters.