Voces, Independent Lens
From Pelican Bay State Prison, Sansón’s life is defined by borders—between Mexico and the U.S., fact and fiction, personal choice and systemic force.
Andy, the son of a Muslim Iranian immigrant, grew up with Bubba in Pope County, Arkansas. Today, the two friends, who have been on divergent paths, try to make sense of a polarized world.
Andy Sarjahani is an Iranian-American documentary filmmaker and cinematographer raised in the Ozarks of Arkansas. He is interested in people, our relationship to place, and how that shapes our worldview. His current work focuses on exploring nuanced narratives from the American South. He often watches Thelma & Louise with his dog, June.
Jennifer Samani is a New Orleans-based producer with Iranian/Jewish roots, whose work explores themes of identity, community, and belonging. Stints as a nonprofit fundraiser, political campaign manager, and architecture student inform her perspective and approach to documentary filmmaking. Her second home is in the stacks at the library.
Filmmaker Andy Sarjahani and Bubba Samuels grew up together in Pope County, Arkansas. As young boys, they bonded over their affinity for the woods, fishing, hunting, trucks, dogs, football, and whiskey. But in some ways their paths diverged after 9/11/2001, when Andy was 18 years old. As the son of a Shiite Muslim Iranian immigrant father and a Southern Baptist mother from Alabama, Andy’s cultural identity is both Southern American and Persian. In Untitled Iranian Hillbilly Project, Andy and Bubba reconvene in the Ozark National Forest they grew up in, to hunt wild hogs and rely on their shared history to find common ground.
Untitled Iranian Hillbilly Project follows Andy on his journey to make sense of his plural identities as he and Bubba hunt wild hogs in their native Ozarks. Relying on their backbone of friendship and mutual respect, the two old friends surprise one another and themselves with vulnerable revelations and ideological shifts. As this film examines nuance in a polarized world, it aims to reframe both the immigrant experience—particularly Middle Eastern and Muslim—and that of rural America.