Cyrus Dowlatshahi is a photographer and filmmaker in his mid-thirties who has worked for Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Al-Jazeera English, National Geographic, and other outlets.
His documentary, Takin' Place, focuses on residents of Chicago's South Side (see related story: Filmmaker Shows a Side of Chicago Most Will Never See). An alumnus of Vassar College, he is based in New York and working on a documentary set in Iran, the country his parents fled in 1980. Dowlatshahi grew up in Chicago, but his background as an Iranian-American leads him to investigate the reality behind stereotypes.
“After 9/11, people thought I was going to blow sh*t up … I never got asked before if I was a U.S. citizen. I’m a White Sox fan,” he says. “I’m familiar with the business side of stereotypes. I know what discrimination feels like.”
Iran is "like a lot of places," he says. “Sometimes when you’ve never been to a place and it has a reputation, you think it’s going to be scary, but for the most part people are a lot friendlier than you thought they’d be.”
—Additional reporting by Neil Gladstone