Jurors are chosen from a wide range of international artists, based on their body of work and respect from their peers.
Ben-Hur Sepehr, an experienced filmmaker and stage director, studied under
Ingmar Bergman and Frank Sundstrom in Sweden. His very first project, a short
film titled, A Journey to Finland, earned him an Award of Excellence. He then co-
wrote and produced plays at the Gamla Stan Theater of Arts in the old section of
Stockholm, before working at the prestigious Stockholm State Theater and
Stockholm Dramaten Theater in various capacities, including Lighting Assistant,
Assistant Stage Decorator, Assistant Stage Master, and Assistant Director,
where he worked with numerous Scandinavian theatrical and cinematic icons,
including Frank Sundstrom, Ingmar Bergman, Tage Danielson, and Liv Ullman.
In Sweden, Ben-Hur was honored to meet with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. They
discussed the racial and religious prejudices each had grown up with. Dr. King's
parting words to young Ben to never forget God in all his endeavors have had a
lifelong and profound impact on him, and have been the driving force behind all
his works, especially The Desperate, The Coin, Return to Destiny, and
Prophecy. They also inspired him to form a non-profit organization called
“Tolerance Through Knowledge,” to use the arts and entertainment to instigate
and promote positive cultural shifts and movements in mindsets such as
discrimination and prejudice.
In Iran, Ben-Hur became filmmaker for the Shah, for whom he documented
major ceremonies plus meetings with world leaders, and traveled through- out
the Middle East to make documentaries. He also produced and directed a
variety of stage productions for the Iran-America Society while working on
numerous Iranian film and TV projects as a writer, director, and producer.
Ben-Hur’s most recent work is a short film, titled The Desperate, which he
wrote, produced, and directed. Based on a true story about a profound event
one night in a World War II German Concentration Camp, it won 67 awards, and
over 100 nominations from top film festivals all over the world, including Cannes,
Hollywood, and Levante International (in Bari, Italy) where they called it a
“Masterpiece” and titled Ben-Hur a “Maestro
Born in 1969 in Iran, Eilya started his acting carrier on stage at the age of 12. Having
read many children books and plays at an early age, his love for writing and story-telling persuaded him to write his first play at the age of 16, which was published and went on to win the first prize in a national competition. Eilya’s determination for learning more brought him his bachelor degree in Literature of Drama from the University of Tehran in July of 1998. On July of 2000 he received his masters in Directing Film and Theatre from the Art University of Tehran. In spite of his
outstanding academic achievements, he continued his education and on December of 2011 he received his PhD in History of the Arts. At that point he was on demand for teaching and being a judge in numerous film and theatre competitions and many festivals all over the country. He published more than 48 articles, short stories, plays, film and TV scripts. Eilya taught as a professor at universities and also managed 4 festivals.
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