It's hard to be unaware of the fact that Iran is in the sights of the Bush administration.  --  In response to this, United for Peace of Pierce County has declared May and June 2006 to be Iran Education Months.  --  A variety of events and activities are planned: book discussions, presentations, film showings, cultural celebrations, and reports of visits to Iran.  --  A preliminary, partial schedule is presented below.  --  Mark your calendars!  --  All events are free, with the exception of the June 3 Benefit Concert/Fundraiser with Steve & Kristi Nebel at the Antique Sandwich Company (#2 below)....

MAY-JUNE 2006 ARE IRAN EDUCATION MONTHS!

United for Peace of Pierce County (WA)
May-June 2006

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1.

WHAT: "Close-Up," a 100-minute feature film
WHO: Directed by Abbas Kiarostami
WHEN: Thursday, June 1, 6:30 p.m.
WHERE: First United Methodist Church, 423 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma, WA

Abbas Kiarostami, 65, is increasingly recognized as a director of world stature; he has been called "arguably the finest film artist at work in the world today." -- The Iranian New Wave filmmaker's extraordinary cinematic masterpiece "Close-Up" is a highly unusual film that interweaves real events with re-enactments in which individuals play themselves. -- The 100-minute film depicts a rather absurd incident that actually took place, and shows the trial that resulted from it. -- An unemployed printer's assistant is arrested for pretending he is the Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf. -- Impersonating a celebrity, he gains the confidence of an entire family. -- Found out, he is arrested and tried in court for fraud. -- The result is what one critic called "a fascinating blend of documentary and fiction . . . not shown in the United States until 1999 . . . All the actors in the film play themselves, and all the scenes are recreations of actual events, except for a few that unfold 'live.' It's difficult to distinguish between what's real from what's written. The line between cinema and life is erased, not just for the audience but for the characters/people in the film as well." -- In addition to raising universal themes about the nature of reality and representation, "Close-Up" offers an intimate glimpse into life in the Islamic Republic of Iran. -- (UFPPC's regular meeting will follow "Close-Up" and a brief discussion of the film.)

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2.

WHAT: Benefit concert/fundraiser for United for Peace of Pierce County
WHO: Steve & Kristi Nebel, internationally touring folk duo, perform new material with keyboard/vocalist Joe DeBenedictis, and brief remarks by Mark Jensen on “Demystifying the West’s Confrontation with Iran”
WHEN: Saturday, June 3, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Antique Sandwich Co., 5102 North Pearl Street, Tacoma, WA

Tickets $12 at door, $10 in advance (phone 253-752-4609 for reservations). -- Steve & Kristi Nebel, an internationally known singer/songwriter duo living in Tacoma, Washington, will be performing new numbers as well as material from recent albums -- "Big Red Smile (2005) and "Bohemian Outback" (2002) -- and old classics like "Big Floppy Hats" (1997). -- Mark Jensen, on the faculty of Pacific Lutheran University, has been active with United for Peace of Pierce County from the beginning. -- He has been following the Iran crisis closely since his article "Scott Ritter Says U.S. Plans June Attack On Iran" aroused unusual interest on the Internet (with more than 114,000 hits on the UFPPC web site alone, the article has also been reproduced on more than 400 web sites).

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3.

WHAT: Modern Iran and Ancient Persia in Photographs
WHO: Mohsen Mirghanbari
WHEN: Tuesday, June 6, 7:00 p.m.
WHERE: Olympic Room, Main Branch of the Tacoma Public Library, 1102 Tacoma Avenue South, Tacoma, WA

Mohsen Mirghanbari, an American citizen originally from Iran and a Pierce County resident, presents photographs from a 2005 trip to Iran. Mirghanbari's photographs include remarkable and beautiful images of Persepolis, Isfahan, and the most elaborate Shia shrine in the world, the Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad, Iran's 2nd-largest city with more than 2 million inhabitants.

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4.

WHAT: Report on the December 2005 visit to Iran by a Fellowship of Reconciliation peace delegation
WHO: Marion Ward of Vancouver, WA
WHEN: Sunday, June 11, 4:00 p.m.
WHERE: Hillside Community Church, 2508 South 39th Street, Tacoma, WA

Marion Ward was one of 15 Americans who formed an interfaith group from all over the U.S. that spent ten days in Iran in December 2005. She visited Tehran (11.2 million inhabitants), Qom (1.0 million), Isfahan (1.6 million), and Shiraz (1.3 million), and met with independent and state-run media, academics, Muslim religious leaders as well as representatives of minority Christian and Jewish communities, leaders of environmental and women’s NGOs, and veterans of the Iran-Iraq war. She will present photographs, documents, and impressions of her trip.

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5.

WHAT: "Taste of Cherry," award-winning Iranian feature film
WHO: Directed by Abbas Kiarostami
WHEN: Friday, June 16, 7:00 p.m.
WHERE: Xavier 201 on the campus of Pacific Lutheran University (121st Street South and Park Avenue)

Abbas Kiarostami has been called "arguably the finest film artist at work in the world today" by David Walsh. He has written and directed many masterpieces, but "Taste of Cherry" stands out. The film won the Palme d'Or in Cannes in 1997 (the festival's highest award). Born in 1940, as an artist Kiarostami first distinguished himself in painting. He left home at the age of 18 and attended Tehran University's Faculty of Fine Arts. He later co-founded a filmmaking department at the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, an organization founded by the Shah's wife in 1969. Since then he has made more than two dozen films. He first gained international notice with a trilogy of films about an area north of Tehran devastated by an earthquake: "Where is my friend's house?" (1987), "And life goes on..." (1992) and "Through the Olive Trees" (1994). David Walsh writes, in a review entitled "Despair, Hope, Life": "'Taste of Cherry' is perhaps the most visually audacious of Kiarostami's works. At first glance his films seem almost documentary-like. But, in fact, scenes may be composed of individual shots that one cannot connect from the point of view of mundane spatial logic. . . . Pictures of everyday reality, considerations about life in general, and criticisms, veiled or otherwise, of Iranian society are joined organically in Kiarostami's film. . . . Kiarostami's films always make a silent protest about the conditions women confront in Iran. . . . Like the greatest novels, or paintings, or pieces of music, Kiarostami's films have an intellectual weight, an emotional intensity and a truthfulness that give them almost an intimidating quality. Rigorous, but lively, austere, but not ascetic, his films are both of the world and apart from it, accepting of what is beautiful in life and critical of everything false and cruel. The experience of 'Taste of Cherry' does not end when one exits the cinema, as is the case with the majority of films, even many so-called art films. The work continues to inspire thoughts and feelings, to challenge one intellectually and morally, for days, perhaps forever. This is the sort of film that changes people."

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6.

WHAT: “Wake!”: A garden solstice celebration of Persian poetry
WHO: Firdausi, Omar Khayyam, Rumi, and Hafiz (in spirit)
WHEN: Wednesday, June 21, 7:00 p.m.
WHERE: 420 North 4th Street, Tacoma, WA

Historically, poetry has deeply infused Iranian culture, and travellers often remarked on the knowledge and recital of the best classical Persian poetry by even unlettered men and women. -- Poets like Firdausi, Omar Khayyam, Rumi, and Hafiz, have indelibly marked not only to Iranian but world literature, though historians like Nikki Keddie note that poetry is "[a]mong the multiclass cultural forms that have declined visibly even in the past twenty years" (Modern Iran: Roots and Results of Revolution [Yale University Press, 2003], p. 172). -- Since in Iran light is a symbol of the presence of the spiritual in the material world, we will celebrate this contribution on the solstice in a garden around the beautiful gazebo outside UFPPC member Burk Ketcham's place. -- The celebration will feature poetry read both in English translation and in the original Farsi, with ample time for conversation and conviviality.

I.

Wake! For the Sun, who scattered into flight
The Stars before him from the field of Night,
     Drives Night along with them from heav'n, and strikes
The Sultán's turret with a shaft of light.

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VII.

Come, fill the cup, and in the fire of spring
Your winter-garment of repentance fling:
     The Bird of Time has but a little way
To flutter — and the Bird is on the wing.

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XII.

A book of verses underneath the bough,
A jug of wine, a loaf of bread -- and Thou
     Beside me singing in the wilderness —
Oh, wilderness were Paradise enow!

               —Edward FitzGerald's "Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám" (1859)

7.

WHAT: "Digging Deeper XVI: Iran" -- UFPPC's Monday evening book discussion group
WHO: Led by Mark Jensen
WHEN: May 8, 15, 22, & 29 & June 5, 12, 19, & 26 -- 7:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
WHERE: Mandolin Café, 3923 South 12th Street, Tacoma, WA

“Digging Deeper,” UFPPC's book discussion group, has existed since July 2004. -- See the UFPPC web site for the first and second list of books about Iran that are under discussion. -- All are welcome!