Grants & Awards


– by Maryam Keshavarz

About the Film:

Set in contemporary Iran in the unseen world of Iranian youth culture, filled with underground parties, sex, drugs and defiance, Circumstance is the story of two vivacious young girls — wealthy Atafeh and orphaned Shireen — discovering their burgeoning sexuality and, like 16 year-old girls anywhere, struggling with their desires and the boundaries placed upon them by the world they were born into.

About the Filmmakers:

Maryam Keshavarz (Director/Writer/Producer) received her MFA from NYU/Tisch School of the Arts and has been making award-winning films for 10 years. Her first feature documentary, The Color Of Love, an intimate portrait of the changing landscape of love and politics in Iran, won numerous awards at top-tier festivals and was broadcast internationally.  Her short film The Day I Died garnered top accolades at Mar del Plata, Clermont-Ferrand, New York Film Festival and Berlin International Film Festival; and was the only short film at Berlinale to win two awards: the Gold Teddy and the Jury Prize. Keshavarz’s first narrative feature fiction film, Circumstance has garnered various prestigious accolades including: selection to the Sundance Screenwriters/ Directors Lab and Tribeca All Access; receipt of the Adrienne Shelly Grant, the Sundance Middle Eastern Filmmakers Award, Rotterdam’s Hubert Bals Grant, France’s Fonds Sud Grant; as well as financial support from Cinereach, Film Independent, and the San Francisco Film Society. Circumstance made its World Premiere in American Dramatic Competition at the 2011 Sundance Festival to overwhelming critical acclaim and won the coveted Audience Award.

Karin Chien (Producer) is an independent film producer based in New York City, and the 2010 recipient of the Independent Spirit Producers Award. Karin has produced seven feature films, including The Exploding Girl (2009), The Motel (2005) and Robot Stories (2002), which have won over 75 festival awards, premiered at Sundance and Berlin, and received international distribution. Karin is in post-production on two features, Untitled Haiti Project directed by P. Benoit, and Jack & Diane directed by Bradley Rust Gray. Karin is also in pre-production on the film installation Untitled (Structures) by Leslie Hewitt in collaboration with Bradford Young. Karin is the president and founder of dGenerate Films, the leading distributor of independent Chinese cinema. Karin is also the Director of the CAAM Fellowship program.

Melissa Lee (Producer) is an independent producer based in Los Angeles and Hong Kong. Melissa graduated magna cum laude with a BA in Literature from Harvard University, after which she worked in investment banking, specializing in Mergers & Acquisitions, with Morgan Stanley. She then went on to receive her MFA in Producing from University of Southern California. In 2008, Melissa produced the feature film, Dear Lemon Lima. The film premiered at the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival where it garnered the jury acting prize, and has continued to be nominated for and win awards at festivals all over the world, including Woodstock, London, Sao Paolo, and Rome. The film will be released theatrically by Phase 4 Films in March 2011. Under the umbrella of her production company, Bago Pictures, Melissa is in development on several feature film projects. Melissa has been a Film Independent Project: Involve Fellow, was a selected participant for the Sundance Institute’s inaugural Creative Producing Summit, and serves as a Judge for the UCLA Screenwriters MFA Showcase.

Festival & Award Highlights:

Sundance Film Festival 2011 – World Premiere, Audience Award
NewFest 2011 – Best Film
Outfest 2011 – Audience Award: First Feature, Best Actress
Los Angeles 2011
New Directors/New Films 2011

Independent Spirit Awards 2012 – John Cassavetes Award (nom)