Filmmaker Sierra Urich sets out to make a film about her mother and grandmother’s coming-of-age experiences in Iran. Instead, while excavating the memories of their formative years, she unearths the forces behind her fractured Iranian identity, her family’s traumas, and her need to confront them. Following the three women over the course of a shared summer vacation, Joonam slips through time to transport the audience into a multi-media dreamscape, swirling the memories of Sierra’s grandmother Behjat as a preteen bride in 1940’s Ardabil, her mother Mitra as a rebellious teenager in Isfahan during the 1970 Islamic Revolution, and her own upbringing as an American girl in early 2000’s Vermont. Caught between two worlds where the real and imaginary are indistinguishable, Joonam examines the relationships between mother and daughter, Iran and America, and fear and longing.
Sierra Urich is an interdisciplinary artist and filmmaker whose work blends animation, sculpture, video art, and narrative and nonfiction filmmaking. In 2013 she received her BFA in Illustration and Film/Animation/Video from RISD, with supplementary studies in creative writing at Brown University. She was an artist-in-residence at The Banff Centre for the Arts 2017, Sundance Nonfiction Directors Fellow 2018, Points North Fellow 2018, and Firelight Doc Lab Fellow 2021. Her first feature film, Joonam (in production) has received support from Sundance Institute, HBO Documentary Films, Cinereach, Catapult Film Fund, Tribeca Institute, Independent Filmmaker Project, LEF Foundation, Firelight Media, and Field of Vision.