Culver City News

Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 1.43.04 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-08 at 1.41.41 PM

Local director sets project in Culver City, L.A: will premier at 2013 Portobello Film Festival in London Cristian Vasquez | Tue, Sep 10 2013 03:24 PM

Local director sets project in Culver City, L.A: will premier at 2013 Portobello Film Festival in London

When songwriter, director,

actor and overall artist Ali Hatef

wrote a song, he never imagined

the recording would take on a life

of its own.

Today Hatef’s film “The Traveler”

starring Marjan Vayghan is

set to premiere at the Portobello

Film Festival in London on Sept.

11 and is far away from where he

intended to be with his original


“It (the story) just kept growing

and as Marjan joined the project,

it just took off from there,”

Hatef said. “Marjan was maybe

the twentieth person who read for

that part. It’s the story of Maryam

and honestly it was very hard to

find someone with the ability to

portray the character the way she

does. When we asked if she (Marjan)

would do it after she read a

few lines, it happened.”

The story focuses around

Maryam who lands at LAX in

search of her husband Amir,

whom she met during his last visit

to Iran after he lived in the United

States for year. Concerned about

her family’s reputation Maryam

goes to Los Angeles where she

meets Ali, a part-time cab driver

and painter who ends up helping

in her quest.

“It was a story I had heard

time and time again growing up in

Iran where you have people living

here traveling to Iran to visit their

family and the family tells them

to meet someone, so they have

a party and they meet someone,

and get married in that closed

system,” Vayghan said. “These

people come back and they never

hear from each other again. The

person that existed in a closed

system all of a sudden had their

system get instantly smaller and

their reputation which is everything

in Iran is in a state of limbo.”

Through Our Building

Bridges Rooftop Vayghan has

been actively involved in bringing

American and Iranian artists

together to share in the creative

process as one. Through her

back and forth with OBBR, she

has met several artists who can’t

get their voices heard or obtain a

chance to exhibit their work.

“I believe a lot of women fin

strength and empowerment in a

closed system and a lot of strong

women come from that system,”

Vayghan said. “Which is why I

knew I couldn’t do Maryam: I

knew a lot of Maryams and I knew

I could not pretend to be them.”

Yet, Hatef saw something in

the ability of the young actress

that convinced him she was perfect

for the role.

“After I saw her name on

the post card I looked up her

work and was amazed that she

is involved with this project Our

Building Bridges Rooftop with

the artist in Iraq,” Hatef said. “I

thought she could be the perfect

person for this role. When I met

her she was so down to earth and

all of us sitting at the table looked

at each other and said ‘that is her.’

We were hoping she would say

yes and she did.”

Unfortunately not Hatef or

Vayghan will be able to attend

the Portobello Film Festival in

London; however, plans to screen

the film around Los Angeles and

overseas will take place after the


“Every one or two weeks I

would get an email saying it was

nice of me to send the film but

that they could not take it but

that I should keep making films,”

Hatef said. “When I got the message

from the festival in London I

thought it was a regret letter.”

For more information on the

film persons interested can visit:



– See more at: