The Exodus of Jews from Egypt through the Red Sea made out of sea shells​​​​​​​

Sponsored by the Ruby Family Foundation

Press on "Between the Shells"
UCLA Extension: DCA Instructor Shirin Raban's film to be screened,
followed by director Q&A

                                                                                        Click Here to Watch Trailer
                                                                                       ©2019 Shirin Raban All Rights Reserved.

Many thanks to the Harooni family
opening their home and hearts to this film
Director and Producer: Shirin Raban
Master Shell Artist: Moosa Haim (Jalil) Harooni
Interviews: Moosa Haim (Jalil) Harooni, Louise Harooni,
Oranus Harooni, Anahita Harooni, Jakoub Anvar,
Alexander Mousazadeh, Manouchehr Anvar

Editor: Shirin Raban
Assistant Editor: Megumi Ikeda 
Research: Marguerite Courtney, Shirin Raban, Megumi Ikeda 
Artwork Photography: Eric Greene & Shirin Raban
Color: Megumi Ikeda
Sound Mix: Steamboat Sound
Original Music: Haleh Roshan-Kashani
Guitar: Albert Zakhor
Piano: Faramarz Talehakimi
Daf: Haleh Roshan-Kashani
Vocals: Albert Zakhor & Haleh Roshan-Kashani
Narrations: Shirin Raban

Special Thanks to: Carey Lundin, Haideh Herbert-Aynehchi
Jacob Aynehchi, Barbara Drucker, Peter Nabokov, Marguerite Courtney, Haleh Roshan-Kashani, Maria Oparnica Simic, David Orenstein, 
Daniel Raban, David Raban, Faramarz Raban, Rebekah Bukhbinder, Brendan Ho, Nancy Larrew, Parisa Nikzad, Zelda Harrison

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May 8, 2020, Friday, 10:00PM ET/PT 
June 6, 2020, Saturday, 3:00PM ET 
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August 22, 2020, Saturday, 5:00 PM ET 
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November 29, 2020, Sunday, 3:00PM ET
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June 16, 2020, Tuesday, 7:00PM Pacific Time
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          Pharo's troops chasing Israelite's into the Red Sea

Meet Mr. Harooni
For over fifty years, Mr. Moosa Haim (Jalil) Harooni has been transforming mere seashells into heartfelt characters from the Old Testament, Persian Mythology and legendary kings and poets such as Cyrus the Great, Reza Shah, Ferdowsi, Hafez and Omar Khayyam. His dioramas also tell the plebeian stories of a shoemaker, a flower girl, a defeated matador, dancers, musicians, lovers and animals. The latest works of Mr. Harooni include Abe Lincoln freeing a slave, and George Washington. Mr. Harooni’s art is a reflection of his life journey as an Iranian Jew who grew up during WWII, lived through the Islamic Revolution in Iran and migrated to the United States after the Iran Iraq War.
Mr. Harooni in his living room surrounded by his art

Academic Synopsis
Mr. Harooni invites the audience to his home, the only museum that showcases his magnificent art. The living and dining areas are covered with shelves and display cases of dioramas, each telling a story. The main attraction is the huge aquarium humbly tucked in the corner of the den. It houses dioramas of the Israelites passing through the Red Sea as they are chased by Pharaoh’s troops and chariots. The Jews led by Moses, his brother Aaron and their sister Miriam, move forward in song. They carry with them Joseph’s tabernacle, their own children, cattle and belongings. The facial and body dynamics are stunningly detailed and expressive.
Mr. Harooni’s art is intertwined with the complexities of his own hybrid identity as an Iranian-American-Jew. Drawing from 2700 years of Persian-Jewish culture, he speaks fondly of Shahnameh or the Persian Mythology Book of Kings and Reza Shah from the point of view of a person who experienced modernity and the Industrial Revolution for the first time almost a century ago. The film explores the concepts of imagined worlds, heritage preservation, acculturation and dealing with trauma through art. Mr. Harooni recycles seashells to make incredible stories of kings, prophets, heroes, ordinary people and animals. He explains, “I make something out of nothing. These shells wither away as people step on them. I use them to bring stories of real people to life.”
Rostam Persian Mythology Arch Hero of Shahnameh or Book of Kings​​​​​​​

Director Bio
Shirin Raban is a cine-ethnographer who teaches courses in the history and practice of graphic design at Cal State University Northridge and UCLA Extension. In 2014, Shirin received her MVA in Visual Anthropology from USC. Her Thesis film, “The Fifth Question: Why is this Passover different?” is about the evolving cultural identity of her own children in Los Angeles. The film won the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Award, and was selected as Semi-Finalist at the San Francisco Iranian Film Festival. It was screened at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, USC Casden Institute, UCLA Hillel, USC Hillel and Adat Shalom Temple. In 2015, Shirin created the short film, "VAPAE: The Making of a Teaching Artist" for the UCLA Arts and Architecture Art Teaching Minor program. Shirin continues to create films about culture and identity.

          Shirin's watercolor paintings at the district
          art exhibit initiated by Mr. Harooni  in 1981

For further information please :
Shirin Raban
Cine-ethnographer | Adjunct Professor
Department of Design Communication
California State University, Northridge
©2019 Shirin Raban All Rights Reserved.

Director Statement
Mr. Harooni is the first artist who acknowledged my art. In the art exhibit he created for our school district in Tehran, he had reserved an entire wall for my watercolor paintings. This was in 1981 and I was a 7th grader experiencing the chaotic post-revolutionary Iran-Iraq war environment. Mr. Harooni and my mother were among a few courageous activists at the parent school association who fought the school district to retain student rights, including our school’s Jewish identity. Our families were separated when we emigrated to the United States. We moved to Los Angeles. Mr. Harooni and his family settled in New York.
Decades later, I revisited Mr. Harooni and his art collections on a trip to New York. I marveled at his prolific works from Iran and his many new dioramas and collections including the Holocaust and American themes. It took me another decade of self discovery and ultimately a Masters in Visual Anthropology before I went back to film the story of Mr. Harooni’s art in the hopes of bringing a second life to his beautifully crafted stories and sharing them with the world.
– Shirin Esther Aynehchi Raban
Please Scroll Down for Harooni's Diorama Collections:

The American History Collection

The Holocaust Collection

The Life of Moses Collection

The Old Testament Collection
Caravan of Joseph's brothers going to bring Jacob to Egypt
Caravan of Joseph's brothers going to bring Jacob to Egypt

The Jewish Life Collection

The Imaginative Collection

The Iranian Life Collection

The Iranian Leaders Collection

The Women Collection

The International Collection

The Animal Collection