Boarders Without Borders: Using Love of Sports to Transcend Politics and Share Cultures
"This is not a film about snowboarding. This is a film about people." This is one of the many messages being conveyed by Marjan Tehrani, Chris Olenik and the rest of the team behind a unique new documentary called 'Boarders without Borders.'
“This is not a film about snowboarding. This is a film about people.” This is one of the many messages being conveyed by Marjan Tehrani, Chris Olenik and the rest of the team behind a unique new documentary called ‘Boarders without Borders.’ In early 2013, three American snowboarders, including Olympic gold medalist Hannah Teeter and professional snowboarder Gabi Viteri, will travel to Iran and ride with fellow Iranian snowboarders in the Alborz Mountains. Given its close proximity to Tehran, it is a creative way to introduce Americans to the Iranian culture and attempt to dispel misconceptions about the Iranian people.
While there is no intended political agenda for this film, it will certainly broaden the viewer’s minds about what Iran looks like, who the Iranian people are and how the love of a sport can transcend politics and bridge gaps. The film is going to document the lifestyle of the people and their culture, the land, and allow the viewer to feel as if they have traveled to Iran with the girls.
NIAC recently spoke with the ‘Boarders without Borders’ team to learn more about this project.
How has the rest of the snowboarding community responded to this project? Are they supportive, or is there a sense of fear due to the nature of U.S./ Iran relations?
Marjan: The snowboarding community has responded positively for the most part. Most of the professional riders have all agreed that this would be an incredible adventure, but despite the enthusiasm there has been plenty of hesitation and skepticism. “Isn’t it dangerous over there? Will we be locked up or kidnapped?’ Which is completely understandable. Most Americans simply assume that it’s dangerous in Iran because what they see on the news. But the riders of our film, Hannah and Gabi, have jumped into the project with unbridled enthusiasm. They understand that they can use their sport and celebrity to create dialogue. I think they realized that this was an opportunity for them to be part of a film that was more than simply snowboarding action shots in the mountains.
How do you think this film will be able to combat images of Iran that are currently portrayed in the media and political circles?
Chris: We believe this film has a huge potential to shift the way Iran is currently portrayed in the media and in political circles, as we take this journey with our American riders and capture them experiencing the people and the culture first hand. A huge majority of what we see in the American media has to do with the United States government's relationship to the Iranian government, and has nothing to do with the actual people.
For us, this film is 100% about people and cultural exchange and from my own experience of being Iranian-American and having the opportunity to travel to Iran, I have found the people to be some of the warmest in the world and the culture to be extremely inviting. I believe our riders will have a similar experience. Another unique component of the film is that a majority of snowboarders living in Iran are under 30 years old, which will allow us to really get to know the youth that we have only seen from a distance over Facebook, Twitter and news outlets. We are truly excited for this opportunity!
What was your initial reaction when you were told about this project and asked to join the team and travel to Iran?
Hannah: I was honored to be asked to be a part of this project. It seemed like something right up my alley, I love experiencing new places in the world and living in someone else's world for a period of time. The opportunity to do something like this does not come along often. You can read about Iran and their culture on the Internet, but to be there first hand and to hear what the youth has to say is a whole other story. And, not to mention the insane snowboarding there that not many have ventured over to do.
How is this film going to be different from other snowboarding films you’ve previously been involved with? (besides the location, that is)
Gabi: This film is going to document more of the lifestyle of the people and their culture, the land, and allow the viewer to really feel like they traveled to Iran with us. Yes, this will be a snowboard film too, and there will be some awesome riding in it, but we are actually going to be documenting the surroundings of where we are, not just the riding itself so you can really get a 360 perspective of what snowboarding and life is like in Iran.
What are you most looking forward to on your upcoming trip to Iran?
Hannah and Gabi: Of course, meeting the people and seeing the way they live their lives is at the top of our list, but also everything that comes along with culture like food, traditions, religion etc. We are excited to see what the mountains are like over there, and sharing this passion of snowboarding with people across the world.
To receive more information about the snowboarders journey and/or contribute to the funding of their adventure please check out the following links: