Writer/producer Kirk Ellis (John Adams) and his wife Sheila recently spent two weeks in Iran photographing pretty much anything that caught their eyes: youth culture, the art, the people, monuments, etc. It became a massive project that not only carries significant cultural heft, but conveys an extra importance given the current political climate and often-misinformed US perception of the region. The Ellises present their photography and conduct what Kirk calls an “illustrated conversation” at 2 pm this Sunday at the Museum of International Folk Art (706 Camino Lejo, 476-1200) during “Pulling Back the Veil: A Conversation on Iran.”
What will the program be like?
What we are not going to do is talk about holiday snaps. This is a chance for us to introduce people to Iran in a way beyond the politics or the picture painted by the media. Rather than talk about it in a ‘this happened, this happened way,’ we decided to theme it around concepts like the role of women or youth, which we’ll talk about. There will be a Q&A after we speak.
Did you find that people seemed concerned about your traveling to the area?
It’s something we wanted to do for many years, and when it finally became a reality and we told our friends we were going to Iran, people seemed to be scared and asked us if we were going to be safe. Having spent two weeks there, I can tell you it’s one of the safest countries. At no point did we feel scared. We happened to be traveling before and during the election and, like many countries, the people could differentiate between a country’s people and its leadership.
As someone with a film background, did you go in with a narrative in mind?
We wanted to experience the country firsthand, and we had the benefit of a terrific female guide who gave us undiluted insight into the country that helped refine our experience. There was no set narrative in mind.