“My songs did not make me famous. The fatwa did.” Sentenced to death for blasphemy, exiled to Germany, and forced to live in hiding, Iranian musician Shahin Najafi was found guilty. His crime? Writing hip-hop songs about controversial subjects like censorship, theocracy and, most incendiary of all, violence and discrimination against women. After fleeing to Cologne, we watch Najafi as he lives out an incredible adventure, even falling in love with the granddaughter of the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Armed only with the lyrics of his songs, rich in poetic, literary and philosophical references, and his live concerts, this story highlights the intimate and existential sides of a battle against silence. In the center, Shahin Najafi stands as an example to all migrants and refugees who strive to realize their hope for freedom.
Executive Director, CHRI
Hadi Ghaemi is an internationally recognized expert on Iran and human rights. In 2008, together with international human rights activists in the Netherlands, he founded the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). CHRI has since become a leading organization documenting human rights violations in Iran and building international coalitions to support human rights.
Previously, Ghaemi worked with Human Rights Watch, joining the organization in 2004 as the Iran and United Arab Emirates researcher. His work at Human Rights Watch focused international attention on the plight of migrant workers in Dubai, as well as the repression of civil society in Iran. After the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, he was a member of the first UN-commissioned human rights fact-finding mission to Afghanistan. Between 2001 and 2004, he worked with NGOs focusing on Afghanistan and Iraq.
Independent Producer & Director
Nodjoumi is an independent film producer and film festival programmer. She and Till Schauder most recently collaborated on WHEN GOD SLEEPS, co-produced by ITVS, executive produced by Motto Pictures, Catapult Film Fund, and Fork Films, and supported by numerous foundations including the Sundance Institute, Jerome Foundation, and NYSCA. The film premiered in competition at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. It later went on to win the Golden Heynal award for Best Music Documentary at the Krakow Film Festival and won Most Valuable Film of the Year award for Cinema for Peace in Berlin. Nodjoumi and Schauder are currently completing the feature documentary REGGAE BOYZ. From 2004-2009, Nodjoumi worked at the Tribeca Film Festival as an Associate Programmer and is currently the Artistic Director of the New York Sephardic Film Festival. She also produced the feature documentary THE IRAN JOB, which was released theatrically and on Netflix worldwide. In Germany, the film was shortlisted for a German Academy Award. For THE IRAN JOB, Nodjoumi managed two of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns of all time. In 2016, she was invited to attend the Sundance Creative Producer’s Summit and in 2017 she was an IFP Cannes Producer’s Network Fellow.
Deputy Executive Director, AFI
Mr. Mazaheri serves as AFI’s Deputy Executive Director, overseeing coordination of its resettlement programs and legal services. For the greater part of his career, Mr. Mazaheri dedicated himself to advancing human rights and safeguarding the public interest.
Mr. Mazaheri is the co-founder of Sethi & Mazaheri, LLC, a law firm dedicated to immigration and asylum law. He is also a former prosecutor and served as a law clerk in criminal court for the Superior Court of New Jersey. In addition to his extensive background in providing public interest based legal services, Mr. Mazaheri worked in the Middle East, North Africa division of Human Rights Watch.
Mr. Mazaheri received his BA from State University of New York at Stony Brook in Political Science and his JD from Seton Hall University School of Law. He is admitted to practice law in New York and New Jersey.