I watched Iran’s Green Revolution unfold from my home in Los Angeles, the city where I grew up but not where I was born.
Being born in Iran and moving to Southern California when I was seven, my connection to Iran has always been a strong part of me. Seeing the crowds of people that took to the streets to be heard eight years ago told me the people of Iran deserve the freedom and rights that I have.
They need to have their voices heard and have a chance at peace and happy lives. This feeling of wanting to see my friends and family in Iran be free is what motivated me to make “A Dying King.”
I first came to the United States in 1976, prior to the 1979 Iranian Revolution that ended the Pahlavi monarchy and brought about the Islamic Republic.
During those last years of the Shah’s reign, my family traveled back and forth, before deciding to permanently settle in the U.S. In 1979, the impact of Iran’s revolution was always something that would impact and shape who I am.
In fact, it planted the seed of inspiration to tell my story.
Factor in my experience of watching anti-U.S. street demonstrations on Tehran streets, experiencing anti-Iran hostility in the U.S. following the taking of its embassy and the unanswered questions about the Shah’s fate, questions still remained nearly 40 years later that needed to be answered.
The Search Begins…
Prior to producing and directing “A Dying King,” from 2008 to 2011, I produced and hosted a popular call-in radio program on KIRN-AM in Los Angeles that centered on U.S./Iran politics. Through connecting with guests and experts on what was going on in Iran, I met many people with ties to my home country that also had a story to tell.
It was at this time that I met Dr. Morganstern from Cedars Sinai Medical Center, who agreed to do an interview for my radio show. Dr. Morganstern was gracious with his time in discussing, up until that point, the taboo issue of the Shah’s cancer diagnosis.
Our interview lasted four hours and inspired me to tell the story of the end of the Shah’s life.
“A Dying King” is the culmination of seven years of chasing shadows and trying to reconstruct a series of events that led to the removal of a monarchy and the birth of an Imamate in Iran. The King’s illness was a natural place to start. His mortality was the one tangible connection to reality that made the Shah’s motivations seem human.
This film uncovers things that have never been revealed until now, including what the Shah’s actual illness was, his diagnosis and how it was treated.
Unpacking a Mystery
During his exile, The Shah wandered hopelessly from Egypt to Morocco, the Bahamas, Mexico, the U.S, then Panama and back again to Egypt where he died furtively at the age of 60. His death had profound consequences for the future of the Middle East and the world, yet the untold medical story of the last King of Iran has to date remained a puzzling mystery.
“A Dying King” unravels the secrecy surrounding the beginning of the end of his life, starting from the onset of the Shah’s illness to the diagnosis/misdiagnosis and maltreatment. The film also exposes the main causes of the Iranian Revolution, the pursuant 444 days hostage crisis and the adversarial relations between the U.S and Iran.
From the very first image that you see “A Dying King” moves quickly, provides detail into the geopolitics of the era and is filled with intrigue and suspense.
“A Dying King” will premiere in Southern California theaters beginning Nov. 15, to be followed by a release in New York in December 8 and then expand into other cities around the nation.
The documentary will be globally distributed by Vision Films in January 2018 across all DVD and VOD platforms including Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Hoopla and various Cable providers.
For more information about the film, please visit adyingking.com.
Bobak Kalhor is a first-time filmmaker and the director of “A Dying King.” He previously served as assistant general manager of L.A.-based radio station 670 AM KIRN.