March 2, 2021
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


Zoom Webinar

Please note that we have reached capacity for the film screening. If you are interested in viewing the discussion with the directors, you may view the livestream on this page.


The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to host an exclusive discussion of award-winning NASRIN (2020), a documentary about Iranian human rights activist and political prisoner, Nasrin Soutoudeh. 

This groundbreaking documentary was secretly filmed by individuals in Iran and tells Soutoudeh’s harrowing story. An outspoken advocate of women and minority rights, Soutoudeh was arrested in December 2018 and sentenced to 38 years in prison for her work as an attorney representing female protestors who protested mandatory hijab laws.

MEI is pleased to host a limited screening of NASRIN followed by a public conversation with producer Marcia Ross, director and writer Jeff Kaufman, and MEI senior fellow and Iran expert, Alex Vatanka. The panel will be moderated by MEI nonresident fellow Nazee Moinian

The first 150 registrants will receive a password-protected link to view the film for a 48-hour period in advance of the discussion on March 2, which will be open to the public. There is a limited number of spots available to view the film - please register early to reserve your place.

Speaker biographies:

Marcia Ross produced the Emmy-nominated documentary Terrence McNally: Every Act Of Life, and the documentaries The State of Marriage, Father Joseph, and The Savoy King. Additionally, she has a 3-decade career as an independent casting director and casting executive, serving 16 years as EVP for Casting at Walt Disney Motion Pictures, and 5 years as VP for Casting and Talent Development at Warner Brothers TV. Some of her film and television credits include Clueless, Cujo, thirtysomething, Murder in Mississippi, 10 Things I Hate About You, The Princess Diaries, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, The Lookout, Enchanted, Oblivion, and Parental Guidance.

Jeff Kaufman produced, directed, & wrote the Emmy-nominated documentary Terrence McNally: Every Act Of Life (aired on American Masters), the documentaries The State of Marriage, Father Joseph, The Savoy King: Chick Webb and the Music That Changed America, Brush With Life: The Art of Being Edward Biberman, and Education Under Fire, as well as a number of short films for Amnesty International and programs for The Discovery Channel and The History Channel. He also edited/designed a book based on the film Every Act Of Life, contributed cartoons to The New Yorker, illustrations to The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times, wrote/illustrated several children's books, and hosted daily radio shows in Vermont and Los Angeles.

Mahnaz (Nazee) Moinian is a doctoral candidate at the University of St. Andrews’ School of History. She holds a Master of Arts in International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) as well as a Master’s in Political Science from its Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. During the 2016 election, Nazee advised Secretary Hillary Clinton’s campaign as a member of its foreign policy advisory group on Iran. She previously consulted on Iranian affairs to the Council on Foreign Relations, where she interviewed foreign diplomats and acted as a liaison between the country’s political figures and their western counterparts. In 2001, Nazee became a United Nations envoy for a variety of Jewish non-profit organizations. She has helped produce several acclaimed documentaries, including 2020’s Nasrin, about the imprisoned Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, as well as 2012’s The Iranian-Americans, which aired on PBS. Her writing has appeared in the Guardian, the Daily Beast, the Tehran Times, the Huffington Post, the Morningside Post, the Jerusalem Post, the New York Daily News, and the Algemeiner Journal, to name a few. Nazee serves on the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Museum in New York City. She is also a non-resident fellow at the Middle East Institute and a Council Member of the New York State Council on the Arts. Nazee has also been a longtime financial supporter of Democratic causes, candidates, and organizations.

Alex Vatanka is a Senior Fellow at the Middle East Institute. He specializes in Middle Eastern regional security affairs with a particular focus on Iran. He was formerly a Senior Analyst at Jane’s Information Group in London. Alex is also a Senior Fellow in Middle East Studies at the US Air Force Special Operations School (USAFSOS) at Hurlburt Field and teaches as an Adjunct Professor at DISAS at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Born in Tehran, he holds a BA in Political Science (Sheffield University, UK), and an MA in International Relations (Essex University, UK), and is fluent in Farsi and Danish. He is the author of two books: "The Battle of the Ayatollahs in Iran: The United States, Foreign Policy and Political Rivalry Since 1979” (2021) and “Iran and Pakistan: Security, Diplomacy, and American Influence” (2015). He has also written chapters for a number of books, including “Authoritarianism Goes Global” (2016); “Handbook on Contemporary Pakistan” (2017); “Russia in the Middle East” (2018), “Winning the Battle, Losing the War: Addressing the Drivers Fueling Armed Non-state Actors and Extremist Groups (2020); “Global, Regional and Local Dynamics in the Yemen Crisis” (2020) and “Routledge Handbook of Counterterrorism and Irregular Warfare Operations” (2021). He is presently working on his third book “Iran’s Arab Strategy: Defending the Homeland or Exporting Khomeinism?