Praise
"Justine Shapiro's latest film, Our Summer in Tehran offers the important perspective of what it means to build friendship even when states, ideologies, and attitudes work to prevent and impede it. Her film shows a side of Iran and Iranian life that dispels the intense fear, misunderstanding, and stereotypes that are purveyed in the U.S. media. Her film, like her documentary Promises which brings together Israeli and Palestinian children, suggests that until we begin to see and listen to each other, to face each other with courage and openness, we cannot build true peace. Her work is a model for thinking about new ways to open the conversation about Iran, and about countries and cultures we perceive as a threat, and to approach them with a desire for real communication. I highly recommend Our Summer in Tehran as a way to humanize Iran and to offer a tool for Americans who think so readily as that country as an enemy." ---Professor Persis Karim, Coordinator of San Jose State University's Middle Eastern Studies Program and Iranian Studies Program and Editor, Let Me Tell You Where I've Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora
"Whether you are a world history teacher, a geography teacher, a civic or political science teacher, or an English teacher using global literature--whatever your entry point to inspiring your students to think in more nuanced terms about the rest of the world--this film will be a valuable resource. The educators to whom I've shown Our Summer in Tehran love the intimacy of the film as it follows the relationships that build between the filmmaker, her son, and several Iranian families. Home life is a facet of Iran that it is very difficult for most Americans to imagine, and yet a critical part of seeing Iranians as real, complicated, and diverse human beings. The film opens our students' eyes to a more complex world than the one we thought we knew, and to relationships we didn't know could happen." --- Barbara Petzen, Education Director for Middle East Policy Council, and President of the Middle East Outreach Council
"Our Summer in Tehran is a great addition to our collection, and fulfills our commitment to offering our library customers resources that open minds, pique curiosity and stimulate intellectual thought." ---Madeline Ripley, Spokane County Library District
"In Our Summer in Tehran the filmmaker Justine Shapiro and her young son, Mateo, spend a summer in Tehran with three Iranian families and their children. This beautiful film does not offer us one perspective on contemporary life in Iran, but many, dispelling the myths that we imbibe consciously or unconsciously from the American news media. Through the interactions of the delightful Mateo and his mother, and of Mateo with a variety of Iranian children, we watch Shapiro finding her away among the complexities and unknowns of Iranian life. In doing so she becomes for her viewers a role-model of how to become an effective citizen diplomat -- by finding common ground, connecting to people through their daily lives, remaining open-minded, curious, and culturally aware.

This film is therefore exactly what teachers need to help students enter into a world they need to know more about it. The documentary offers teachers many avenues through which they can address a variety of important issues, from the enduring legacy of the culture of Ancient Persia, to the after effects of the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, to the lives of Muslim women in contemporary Iran. Students will come away feeling grateful to Shapiro, her son, and the Iranian families who welcomed them into their homes. The film's potential for classrooms of all ages is limitless. "
--- Joan Brodsky Schur, Educational Consultant, Author and Curriculum Developer for middle and high schools Social Studies Coordinator, New York City
"At a time when the relations between Iran and the West are increasingly narrowed to the nuclear dispute, the broader understanding of Iran that Our Summer in Tehran provides is of great value for US students and the general public. Furthermore, by creating a deeper understanding of Iran and its people, the film contributes to greater cross-cultural communication with the broader Muslim world" --- Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, Professor of Economics at Virginia Tech, Senior Fellow of the Brookings Institution (nonresident), Research Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Security, Harvard Kennedy School
"After successfully capturing the conflicted experiences of young Palestinians and Israelis in her film Promises, Justine Shapiro has brought herself (and her five-year-old son) into the foreground in her new documentary, Summer in Tehran. Moving seamlessly between her experiences in Tehran with three different Iranian families, Shapiro reminds us that the personal is political. The result is a deeply affecting film that allows for an intimate, and sometimes surprising, glimpse behind the Iranian curtain." --- Jonathan B. Vogels, Author of The Direct Cinema of David and Albert Maysles and Principal of Upper school at Colorado Academy
"Our Summer in Tehran is a wonderful documentary film about relationships. The central one is between a mother, Justine Shapiro the filmmaker, and her seven year old son, Mateo. Justine is that marvel of all mothers: a consummate teacher whose lessons about life and especially about people are not didactic but are taught with grace, patience, humor, and understanding. She is willing to be relaxed with Mateo even in the most stressful of situations: traveling to Iran on her own to make a sensitive and eventually risky film. This ability to nurture and to educate and yet to let things develop is what makes Summer in Tehran so special for students, for teachers, for parents, and ultimately for anyone who wants to learn what everyday people are like in a country under a government which is perceived a s unfriendly alien and even threatening to Americans. Documentary filmmaker Justine Shapiro makes a home away from home in Tehran with her incredibly appealing son Mateo. It is through Mateo's innocent yet open eyes that we see many of the events and learn many of the lessons in this revelatory, relatively short and therefore, incredibly useful documentary about life in middle class Iran for the classroom. Mateo is open to many relationships (with his male Iranian babysitter, one of a few male influential role models in this otherwise diverse matriarchal society) and makes friends with his Iranian counterparts. He charms and befriends an elderly bicycle rider in one of the key and most affecting moments of the film, moving from the distance of his seat behind a window on the bus to the bike of the rider. The iconic image of the film is of Mateo piggybacking on the skates of two young Iranian girls. The connection between the young American boy and the chadored girls is really quite magical.

Above all, Our Summer in Tehran it is about finding connections and relationships in unexpected places such as the one between Justine and the wife of Dr. Torabi who works for the Revolutionary Guard, the right wing of the government. It is a film about relationships between mothers from very different social, religious, and even philosophical backgrounds, connecting in spite of taroof and barriers of religion, politics and language. It is a film about husbands and wives, grandparents and their grandchildren, babysitters and the children in their care. It is a film about recognizing the different ways people connect through mutual respect and communication.

The stories about daily life in Iran the relationships Justine establishes are not without their ironies. Justine, always looking for connection and commonality, sometimes finds it in surprising places. It is with the most politically conservative mother of the Torabi family that Justine really bonds rather than the single mother with the career. When Justine finally reveals that she is Jewish, it is almost anticlimactic. There are many surprising and teachable moments in this film. It is by the farewell song of the veiled and observant daughter sung to Justine that the viewer is most touched. It is the everyday quality of the grandmother-who prays with her grandchild and the almost unobtrusive call to prayer that this viewer noticed. But the most illuminating and entrancing moments are still when Mateo connects with someone as he does with over the hatching of the silk worms. At the end of the film, Justine Shapiro's letter to Mateo asking him to approach the world in 'wonder rather than fear' is yet another example of what parents and educators should be teaching the children in their care."
--- Betsey Coleman is English Department Chair at Colorado Academy, has been teaching for over 35 years, and has traveled and taken classes in the Middle East (Israel, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Syria). Currently, she teaches a course called Coming of Age in the World.
"...these people who could not seem less like our enemy, might someday find themselves beneath our bombs.  This is a film that Americans need to see sooner rather than later." --- Journalist Evan Hill, Al Jazeera
"This film should be widely shown in the United States and indeed around the world to help humanize a country that has so often been demonized. It shows how much we have in common with Iranians – their love of family, in particular, of children – without sugarcoating the difficulties that Iranians face. Revealing this Iran through the eyes of a six-year-old American boy is both moving and effective. It should teach us all to see the world, as Mateo’s mom, filmmaker Justine Shapiro says, “in wonder rather than in fear.'" --- Barbara Slavin, former Assistant Managing Editor at the Washington Times; Author of Bitter Friends Bosom Enemies: Iran, the U.S. and the Twisted Path to Confrontation