A bearded young Iranian man in maroon shirt looks off into the distance with faint smile, center framed in a warehouse studio, murky grey Chicago light diffused by dirty windows, shot on grainy expired film

Cyrus Moussavi

Brooklyn, NY

Cyrus Moussavi is an Iranian-American filmmaker and producer of musical artifacts. His short I Snuck Off the Slave Ship, a sci-fi-documentary collaboration with acclaimed artist Lonnie Holley, premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and was released on the Criterion Channel. As founder of Raw Music International, a documentary collective telling social, political, and cultural stories through music, he has produced films on music in Iraq, Ukraine, Burma, Mongolia, and Western Sahara. His work has been published by NBC News, Time, and Wall Street Journal, and has screened at places like BAM CinemaFest, Anthology Film Archives, McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, and Mawaheb Fest St. Petersburg. Since 2019 he has co-owned Mississippi Records, an independent record label releasing overlooked music. He works directly with artists and their heirs to equitably reintroduce their work to an international audience. Moussavi studied economics and philosophy at Columbia University and conducted an oral history of Iranian migrants in northern Europe on a Fulbright grant. He grew up between Iowa and Iran.

Somebody’s Gone

Cyrus Moussavi is an Iranian-American filmmaker and producer of musical artifacts.

Artist Bio

Somebody’s Gone is a feature-length documentary about 94-year-old spiritual singer Brother Theotis Taylor told through a remarkable archive of footage collected by his son, Hubert. Over his lifetime, Brother Taylor harvested turpentine, raised eight kids, preached, played piano, and sang spirituals in a sublime falsetto that made him the pride of Fitzgerald, Georgia. His music took him to Carnegie Hall and the Apollo, but the vast majority of his performances occurred within 50 miles of his home. He is beloved in some of the poorest counties in South Georgia and virtually unknown everywhere else. Somebody’s Gone merges Hubert’s vast home-video archive with contemporary vérité footage to tell a multi-generational, multi-vocal story of Brother Taylor and his sacred music.

Award Year

In Progress