: Narrative Feature
GENRE: Drama
STATUS: Pre-Production


A recently immigrated Iranian couple must balance their political activism in their home country with the struggles of making a new life in New York. 40 years later, in the same apartment, their granddaughter loses a job and a roommate in the same week.


Part I

Amir and Leila, a middle-aged Iranian couple, just moved into a humble two-bedroom apartment in Jackson Heights, Queens. Having settled in New York after escaping Iran during the revolution, the two former professors spend their days working menial jobs to get by, their nights spent recording an anti-government radio segment for a European station. When their old microcassette recorder stops working, the relationship between their activism and their current reality in the United States is thrown into question.

Part II

Forty years later, their granddaughter, who shares Leila's name, is living in the same Jackson Heights apartment with her childhood friend, Nancy. As Nancy prepares to move out and start grad school, Leila learns that she will lose her job at a publishing house in Manhattan. Caught in a period of change and subsequent solitude, Leila must redefine her relationship with the city she has spent her entire life in.


After one of my grandmas passed away, I made a point to call my other grandma every Saturday morning. A small gesture, and something I really regretted not doing more often. I frequently think about how these two women’s actions easily had the most impact of anyone in my life. It was their decision to leave their husbands and immigrate to the United States during the 1979 revolution, leaving behind money, comfort, family, and history. But when I would ask them for these stories, they often shrugged them off. It wasn’t heroic to them; it was simply what had to be done. Moving between my lackluster Farsi and her intermediate English, these calls became part of our weekly routine. We never talked about anything profound; just what we were up to that week, our weekend plans, and how we were feeling. I often thought about how much was unsaid on these calls. If I was going through a hard time, I would never tell her, as that would only cause unnecessary worry. And if she was going through something, she would never tell her youngest grandson, who she will only ever see as a child. But it was all right; just speaking to each other, taking the time to express a bit of affection, was enough. In its simplest terms, Leila is a film about two generations of an Iranian family in Queens, revolving around a passed-down apartment. Yet what I feel that the film’s format achieves, by showing a week in the life of these three characters separated by 40 years, is the experiences and emotions that are shared but never expressed amongst an immigrant family. Many things change over the years, but what they grapple with is universal: how do you form an identity separated from people and from place? For this family, the apartment is a sanctuary; a living relic of the things that change and the things that do not.

-Armon Mahdavi


Nancy Kimball - Producer & Actor

Nancy Kimball (cast & co-producer) An actor and producer based in New York, she graduated from NYU Tisch School of the Arts with BFA in Drama in 2020. She has appeared in City on a Hill (Showtime) and has several films due later this year, including Flesh and Blood, Battersea, and Armon Mahdavi's debut feature, Moss Beach.

Aaron Champagne - Director of Photography & Producer

After graduating from Ithaca College with a B.F.A in Film Photography and Visual Arts in 2019, Aaron began working at Panavision New York before joining IATSE Local 600 in 2021. He has worked in the camera department for many New York City shows such as BillionsGirls5evaFleishman Is in Trouble, and Dr. Death.

Armon Mahdavi - Writer, Director, & Producer

An Iranian-American writer and filmmaker from San Francisco. He now lives in New York City, where he has worked in the art department for films such as Past LivesEileen, and Mothers' Instinct. His first feature, Moss Beach, completed principal photography in August 2022. He has also published short fiction in places such as Gulf Coast, La Piccioletta Barca, and Bricolage.


Connect With The Filmmakers:


The Gotham Film & Media Institute - Fiscal Sponsorship Program 2023
Hot Films in the Making - From the Heart Productions/Roy W. Dean Grant Spring 2023


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