The Noor Film Festival is set to begin in Westchester, with the mission of fostering a greater appreciation of Iranian culture through cinema and the arts.

The festival kicks off with an opening ceremony at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, February 1st, featuring a three-course sit-down dinner, live music, dance and comedy performances, and keynote speakers, at the LAX Hilton Hotel, 5711 Century Blvd., Westchester. Tickets are $100.

Keynote speakers will be Mark Amin of Lions Gate Films and Shally Zomorodi (Mrs. California Globe 2007).

Confirmed special guests at the opening reception include Natasha Henstridge, Sean Toub, Maziar Jobriani, Kyle Secor, Anthony Azizi and Samira Houshiar (Mrs. Iran Globe 2007).

The evening’s entertainment will feature a live musical performance by Strunz and Farah; a live dance performance by Beshkan Dance Academy; and a stand-up comedy performance by Peter the Persian.

Following the opening reception the festival moves over to the Silent Movie Theater in Hollywood Friday through Sunday, February 2nd to 4th, presenting films that wouldn’t typically be seen by American audiences.

All of the short and feature-length films being shown are either in Persian (Farsi) with English subtitles or in English with Persian subtitles.

Tickets are available at $10 per individual screening or $50 for a three-day festival pass. A closing ceremony will take place at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, February 4th, at the Silent Movie Theatre and tickets are $35.

Highlights of the festival include screenings of America So Beautiful, directed by Babak Shokrian, about a group of Iranian immigrants who come to the United States in 1979 striving to achieve the American dream of financial success; CafÈ Transit, written and directed by Kambuzia Partovi, about an independent-minded Iranian widow and mother who snubs tradition by reopening her late husband’s Europe/Asia border cafÈ despite social standards that discourage her from doing so; Babak and Friends, produced and directed by Dustin Ellis, a children’s animation about a young Iranian boy who learns to connect with his heritage; and Bonbast, written, produced and directed by Parviz Sayyad, about a young woman who falls in love with a mysterious man who peers into her bedroom window each night.

The festival will also feature a director’s spotlight gearing in on the works of Mohammad Shirvani and Sohrab Akhavan.

The Noor Film Festival is organized through the group effort of Siamak G, Anthony Azizi, Cymbeline Smith-Rowshan and Krista Behi-Semple.

Siamak G is a Sunday morning radio host on Iranian Radio KIRN 670 AM and a film producer who came with his family to the United States at age 13.

Anthony Azizi, co-stars in ABC’s one hour drama Commander In Chief alongside Geena Davis and Donald Sutherland as Vince Taylor the gay HIV-positive aide to the President of the United States.

Cymbeline Smith-Rowshan has been an actress since childhood and is one of the founders of FiddleHeadFern Productions, a company that just shot its first feature film, a psychological thriller called Strange Angel.

Krista Behi-Semple has worked in various areas of the entertainment industry, including dancing and choreography, stage managing and production, and movie sales and marketing.

The theme of this year’s festival is “tolerance, compassion and understanding,” in order to make a bold statement against the climate of fear that exists around the globe, organizers say.

Information, (310) 410-4000.

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