What started as the filming of an innocent honeymoon in the mid-2000s became a documentation of Iranian people at a critical moment in history, and an eerie foreshadowing of the country’s current period of political upheaval.
Fresh in the winter of 2009, Antoine Tarwe and Layla Sabourian take a camera on their honeymoon to cherish their adventures and, inadvertently, capture Iran and its society as it rumbles ever closer to political turmoil. Although Layla grew up there, her relationship to her family, after twenty years apart, is just short of estranged. And yet, her and Antoine’s ‘home videos’ manage to intimately capture a long anticipated reconnection, as well as the bubbling atmosphere of Iran’s citizens just months before they would undergo the Green Revolution. As the couple finds themselves connecting with relatives and strangers alike, they develop a uniquely personal account of societal attitudes at a crucial point in history. Now, as the Woman Life Freedom Movement roars on and the country is once again gripped by a period of radical change, the film serves as an insight into Iran’s ever changing representation of women and youth in politics.
Women and youth are at the forefront of Iran’s current movement that once again is uprooting the political foundation of the country. Iranian society, like many others, struggles for gender equality. The visual representations of gender as reflected in our project are important steps forward. A range of aesthetic expressions and a variety of representations will be reflected in our film as the image of Iran's encounter with modernity is developed. Comparing the perspectives of women and youth at two crucial periods, one marked by hope and the other by outrage, reveal an impactful story that informs us on Iran today.
While Layla’s family struggles to find hope for healing multigenerational wounds, the film skilfully intertwines narratives concerning Iran-Iraq war survivors, political and academic figures, and overdue family reunions, with images of Iran and the Woman Life Freedom Movement today.
Meet the Crew
Layla Sabourian: Writer/Director/Producer
Layla Sabourian is an award-winning content producer and writer. Her most recent project is the writing of her memoir ‘Everywhere and Nowhere’ that will be published in October 2023 by Exisle Publishing and launched at the International Frankfurt Film Festival among other venues. Sabourian has also engaged with building communities through video partnerships, empowering youth and communities to tell their own stories as the production manager of Imagining Ourselves, an online community that featured work from young women around the world and was featured on Yahoo and Google front pages, as well as the United Nations. Sabourian has also taught workshops content creation and is the founder of Koochooloo, a digital content creation company focused on intercultural education where she won numerous international awards, including a Million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation. A native of Iran, Sabourian’s creative work, outreach, and research have been supported by the United States Education department, and the Chilean government. In 2005, her work on the Imagining ourselves interactive platform won an Anita Borg Institute Women in Tech award.
Antoine Tarwé: Cinematographer
Antoine Tarwé makes his debut documentary with “Iranian Honeymoon.” Shot in three countries during the last 13 years, the film is based on years of intensive political research in which Tarwé spoke to leading Iranian authorities, attended a few conferences, and studied hundreds of of articles. He previously helped launch Chef Koochooloo, by co-founding what quickly became an award winning content site in North America targeted towards primary school children. He has spent years with Iranian students who also studied electrical engineering in Santa Clara University and beyond before meeting and marrying Layla in California. In between, Tarwé embarked on two separate global treks that gave him a traveler’s perspective on different cultures in 50 countries.