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“Polaris” Awarded Best Feature Film At The California Women’s Film Festival


Polaris took home the top award for Best Feature Film presented by the California Women’s Film Festival and garnered nominations for Best Director Soudabeh Moradian and Best Actress Alicja Bachleda at the 2017 awards ceremony.

Polaris is a moving drama in which a psychologically traumatized war photographer is locked in a desperate struggle to protect her secrets from her husband and escape her inevitable return to the Middle East.

The drama stars Alicja Bachleda (Ondine, Trade) as ‘Baran’; Bahram Radan (Ice Age, The Wooden Bridge) as ‘Poorya’; and Coby Ryan McLaughlin (Parenthood, Graceland) as ‘Daniel’. The cast also includes Elisabeth Röhm (Angel, Law & Order, Heroes) as Daniel’s wife, ‘Christine’; and Roya Taymourian (Women’s Prison, The Music Man) as Baran’s mother.

At a time when opportunities for women in film are still notably rare, Polaris was created by female Writers, a female Director, a female Producer, a female Editor, and its lead protagonist is female.

“More than 80% of the cast, 60% of the extras, and 50% of the crew of Polaris were women and/or members of ethnic groups considered minorities, and we’re very proud of that.” said Producer Christina Jo’Leigh, p.g.a. of Cinematic Artistry. “But the truth is, we didn’t set out with that intention. We set out to make a film illuminating issues that we felt compelled to shed light on, and to cast the roles and staff the crew with the best persons for each position.”

Through the interpersonal relationships of the characters, Polaris offers an intimate look at the impact of timely issues on very real people, behind closed doors. Issues attendant to cultural diversity and the human impact of war.

Alicja Bachleda skillfully and authentically portrays the silent struggle of Baran, a half-Persian journalist who leaves behind the war-torn countries of the Middle East, only to live in the ongoing aftermath of the trauma. Baran is a shattered, yet fiercely independent woman engaged in a constant struggle for independence and equality. She resists perceived constraints, yet suffers from acute psychological trauma, experiencing a range of reactions to both the trauma and the treatment.

“Post-traumatic stress is a complex condition.” says Jo’Leigh. “Treatment options available are woefully inadequate to address the psychological, emotional and physical responses experienced. The responses are as individual as the personal experiences and the individuals themselves.”

Writer/Director Soudabeh Moradian was an accomplished documentarian in Iran and traveled abroad creating many insightful films about Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq before immigrating to Los Angeles and creating Polaris. Her evolving body of work includes over 70 documentaries and TV series for European Channel ARTE and the BBC.

Polaris was written by award-winning playwright Naghmeh Samini and Soudabeh Moradian, and edited by Cecily Rhett. Produced by Christina Jo’Leigh, p.g.a.

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