Maryam Keshavarz - Extended Biography

Maryam received her BA in Comparative Literature from Northwestern University, an MA in Near Eastern studies from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and an MFA in Film Direction from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. She was also a visiting scholar at the University of Shiraz, Department of Language and Literature.

In 2001, with a band of all girl crew and cast, Maryam directed her first experimental 16mm film, entitled Sanctuary. This surreal fantasy film about an Iranian woman in post-9/11 America traveled to several international festivals and landed Maryam the Steve Tisch fellowship to attend NYU’s graduate film program.

In 2003, Maryam drew on her experience growing up between Iran and the United States to direct her first feature documentary, The Color of Love. An intimate portrait of the changing landscape of love and politics in Iran, the documentary showed at international festivals such as Montreal World Film Fest, Full Frame Doc Fest, MoMA New York, It’s All True (Brazil), among others; it garnered top prizes such as the International Documentary Association’s David L. Wolper Award, Jury Award at DocuDays, and the Full Frame’s Spectrum Award. The Color of Love has been broadcast internationally, was released on DVD by Parlour Pictures, and was featured on Danny Devito’s Jersey Docs, a subsidiary of Morgan Freeman’s Clickstar.

In 2005, Maryam returned to Argentina, where she had studied Latin American literature at the University of Buenos Aires. There, she wrote and directed the visual essay The Day I Died about an adolescent love triangle in a sleepy Argentine seaside town. The Day I Died has shown in Main Competition at Mar del Plata, Clermont-Ferrand, New York Film Festival and Berlin International Film Festival. The Day I Died was the only short film at Berlinale to win two awards: the Gold Teddy Best Short Film and the Jury Prize Special Mention. The film also won the Jury Prize at the Rio International Film Fest. The film is part of DVD compilation by Shooting People entitled BEST v BEST VOL. 2: AWARD WINNING SHORT FILMS 2006.

Maryam’s first narrative feature fiction film, CIRCUMSTANCE premiered to overwhelming critical acclaim at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, garnering the coveted Sundance Audience Award, leading to Maryam’s inclusion in’s 2011 Director’s to Watch. CIRCUMSTANCE has won over a dozen international awards including Best First Film at the Rome Film Festival and the Audience & Best Actress Awards at Outfest. The Independent Spirit Award nominated film was described by the New York Times as “Swirling and sensuous”, by the Wall Street Journal as “Supremely cinematic”, and by the Hollywood Reporter as “Amazingly accomplished.”  The film released theatrically in over a dozen countries in 2012.

Along with frequent collaborator Paolo Marinou-Blanco, Maryam is penning the narrative adaptation of the award winning HBO documentary HOT COFFEE. Maryam is attached to direct the narrative adaptation, entitled The Dissent, with Academy Award nominated producers Anna Gerb, Neal Dodson, and JC Chandor (A Most Violent Year,Margin CallAll is Lost) producing the film in 2017.

Maryam is also developing gender bending genre defying historical epic musical film,  THE LAST HAREM. For this insanely ambitious project, Maryam has garnered several high profile awards for the project including the Hearst Screenwriters Grant, the San Francisco Film Society/ KRF Screenwriting Award, the prestigious Creative Capital Fund, and invitation to the Yaddo Writers Residency. 

Maryam is alumni of the Sundance Screenwriters and Directors Lab, Tribeca Film Institute’s All Access Program. She is the recipient of dozens of grants and fellowships including the French Government’s Fonds Sud, Rotterdam Film Festivals’ Hubert Bals Award, Women in Film’s Grant, Adrienne Shelley Award, numerous Sundance fellowships, and multiple San Francisco Film Society grants. She has been a visiting artist at the University of Pennsylvania and guest lecturer at dozens of prestigious international universities. She is an active member of Film Independent serving as a mentor for their Project Involve Initiative and speaking on numerous filmmaking panels.