Raw Music International: Mongolia
Raw Music International: Burma
Jacob Russell and I traveled through Burma on motorcycle, looking for underground music. Staying with civilians is still illegal, and the country is on unsure footing after five decades of brutal military rule. So we stayed in churches and monasteries and made a film about the diversity of this massive and beautiful country.
Raw Music International: Ukraine
From Iraq, I traveled overland by bus and train to Ukraine. It took a very long time, and I slept on my camera bag in several parks in major Eastern European cities along the way. I wasn't prepared for Ukraine. The nation was tense, the threat of war hung over everything, and a smiley American with a camera was not a particularly welcome scene. I still think of Pavel, the 23 year old poet who made me feel like a child, and the dour city of Kharkiv, needle-strewn and frowning.
Raw Music International: Iraqi Kurdistan
I traveled to Iraqi Kurdistan overland by bus from Turkey. The mayor of the city of Diyarbakir in Turkey gave me a letter of introduction for the authorities in Kurdistan but it was dismissed at the very first roadblock. My Iranian name and American passport confused the shit out of any authority figure there. It took a while to find my footing. Thankfully, I was introduced to Jacob in a Chinese restaurant. He'd been living in Kurdistan, for reasons still completely unclear to me, for about a year at the time. I ended up moving into his yellow house in Sulaymaniah and putting this piece together. We didn't need a translator because Iraj and I both spoke Farsi. That allowed us to get much closer to the guys at the bazaar than would have been otherwise possible. Helly Luv was another story...