Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa, an accomplished director, has written extensively on Iranian cinema and collaborated with critic Jonathan Rosenbaum on one of the definitive books about Iranian film director Abbas Kiarostami. Saeed-Vafa teaches in the Department of Film and Video, Columbia College Chicago, and is an Artistic Consultant for the Iranian Film Festival at the Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago. Saeed-Vafa presents her new essay film, Jerry and Me, a cinephilic love letter to Jerry Lewis, the larger-than-life comic talent that came to embody the "essence of America" to her in her adolescence. The film offers a bittersweet and deeply personal examination of issues Saeed-Vafa has grappled with throughout her academic career, including gender and national/cultural belonging.
Jerry Lewis was a national phenomenon in Iran. However, the Iranian version of Lewis was not the same as the American version, and dubbing was a way of adding national jokes and re-interpreting Lewis for domestic use. Saeed-Vafa's new film, Jerry and Me, contains three perspectives from which to reconstruct the history of Iran: as a filmmaker focusing on Iran’s contemporary history, a cinephile who adores Jerry Lewis, and as a film critic who self-consciously analyzes the comic’s work.