The Mission - LA Film Festival (June 23, 2006)
(1983, United States) Directed by Parviz Sayyad
A political thriller shot entirely in and around New York City, THE MISSION was the first feature directed by Parviz Sayyad following his exile from post-Revolution Iran. The film stars Houshang Touzie as an Islamic revolutionary who undergoes a crisis of conscience when he is sent to assassinate an erstwhile colonel in the Shah's secret police. Sayyad himself plays the former SAVAK official, while the director's longtime collaborator Mary Apick appears as a beautiful émigré student harshly critical of the Khomeini regime.
At once gripping, thoughtful, and leavened by bits of comedy, THE MISSION combines narrative tension with a naturalistic depiction of quotidian life among Iranian exiles displaced to early-'80s America. Duly feted at international festivals and hailed by western critics, the film was widely considered an important work: "a masterpiece," raved the LA Weekly, by no less than "Iran's answer to Orson Welles and Woody Allen," while David Denby of New York Magazine called Sayyad's film "the first Gandhian thriller."
Producer: Parviz Sayyad. Screenwriter: Parviz Sayyad. Cinematographer: Reza Aria. Editor: Parviz Sayyad. Cast: Houshang Touzie, Kamran Nozad, Parviz Sayyad, Mary Apick. Presented in Persian dialogue with English subtitles. 35mm, 107 min.PARVIZ SAYYAD (b. 1939)
A leading director, screenwriter, actor and producer in Iran before the 1979 Revolution, Sayyad created one of the emblematic characters of the Iranian popular cinema of the 1970s: "Samad," a country bumpkin flummoxed by the ways of the big city. Sayyad himself played the character on TV and in nine feature films over ten years. His commercial success with "Samad" and other projects allowed Sayyad to produce riskier "art films" by the auteurs of the Iranian New Wave of the '60s and '70s, including such seminal titles as STILL LIFE (1974) by Sohrab Shahid Saless, and THE CYCLE (1974/1978) by Dariush Mehrjui. The last film Sayyad directed in Iran before going into exile, DEAD END (1977), has the double distinction of being banned by the Shah and the post-Revolutionary Islamic government. In exile, Sayyad wrote, directed and produced the critically lauded THE MISSION (1983) and CHECKPOINT (1987). Now based in Los Angeles, he tours internationally with the Traveling Theatrical Troupe, which he founded, while also producing and starring in his own weekly Persian-language TV show, broadcast worldwide on satellite TV.
Watch an Excerpt of the Q&A Session (5:01)