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Two lovers - a former American Peace Corps volunteer and an Iranian Muslim - are reuniting for the first time in 33 years. Read more

Chicago, IL Documentary
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This project was successfully funded on July 1, 2011.

Two lovers - a former American Peace Corps volunteer and an Iranian Muslim - are reuniting for the first time in 33 years.

Chicago, IL Documentary
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About this project


San Francisco Chronicle:
Towleroad Blog:
Windy City Times:
Reel Chicago:
Richard Knight, Jr.'s "Knight at the Movies":
Edge on the Net:
Post by Chicago's Ben. K.:

In 1977, a young Peace Corps volunteer named Alex stared out the dusty back window of a silver BMW.  As the car pulled away, he watched his secret Iranian lover, Ali, stand in the middle of the street, waving goodbye.  The car picked up speed, turned a corner, and Ali disappeared from sight.  Alex turned around, blinked, and stared at his hands, which had just moments before embraced the love of his life as they said goodbye.  When would their hands touch again?  Would they ever?  Through tears, he stared out the window, watching the city of Tehran speed by.  The Iranian revolution was drawing near, and he had no choice but to leave.  To leave the only man who had ever truly loved him.  His heart was breaking.

Directed by Malachi LeopoldI Am the Water, You Are the Sea tells the true story of two lovers: Alex, an American Peace Corps volunteer;  and Ali, an Iranian Muslim.  As of this writing, the two have been separated for more than 33 years.

But this Fall - with your help - they will be reunited. I Am the Water, You Are the Sea will document their reunion, in addition to telling the epic true story of their forbidden love in Iran in the 60’s and 70’s.

We invite you to help us tell their incredible story, and inspire people around the world to believe that there is nothing that can keep us apart – not distance, not time, religion, politics, war, fear – nothing that can stand in the way of being who we truly are.  Nothing that can stand in the way of loving who, what, when, where and how we want.

FILMINGFilming is planned for Fall/Winter 2011, starting on the East Coast where Alex currently lives.  We will then accompany him to the location in the Middle East where he will reunite with Ali for the first time in over 33 years.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER WE FILM THEIR REUNION?Well... as you can imagine, after 33 years, these two lovers have some catching up to do!  What we'll be doing, as they spend quality time together, is producing the feature film based on their story.  We're doing a feature film, too?  You bet!  The feature film will tell the story of their forbidden love in Iran during the 60's and 70's.  The final film, once released, will begin and end with the documentary of their reunion (funded by this kickstarter campaign!) - with the rest of the film telling the story of their life together in Iran, prior to their separation.

USE OF FUNDSFunding from our kickstarter campaign will cover the cost of production by a small crew to travel and film the reunion on location in the U.S., and on location in the Middle East.  If we surpass our kickstarter fundraising goal, the proceeds will be used to pay a screenwriter to adapt their story for the feature film, in addition to continued filming of Alex and Ali as they navigate the process of bringing Ali to live with Alex in the U.S. 

SOCIAL ACTIONThe social action campaign for "I am the Water, You are the Sea" will give viewers specific ways to learn more about gay rights, marriage equality, and American-Iranian relations;  join groups and organizations addressing the issues in the film; and to take actions leading to social change.

CREWAs of 1 June 2011, we have the following individuals collaborating to create I am the Water, You are the Sea:

Malachi Leopold, Producer/Director
Elisa Bonora, Editor (imdb)
Andrew Edwards, Composer (imdb)
Stephen Dewey, Sound Design (imdb)
Geoffrey Rubay, Sound Editor (imdb)


  • Alex and Ali have been in touch for decades, and the flame is still very much alive for both of them. They want this more than anything!

    Last updated:
  • This may be the most frequent question we get - and the reasons are many.

    First of all, the revolution made it impossible to communicate for more than a decade. Very few of their letters to each other made it through, and it became dangerous for Ali to receive letters from Alex, so they had to cut off communication for years. At one point, Alex was afraid he may have lost Ali forever. But because they had each others' parents' addresses, they were able to get back in touch, and, with the drop in international calling rates from the U.S., Alex is now able to call Ali on a regular basis. So - reason 1 was the revolution.

    Reason 2 - an Iranian, esp a single individual, can't just get a visa to leave for the United States, or many other countries for that matter. And with the political developments of the last decade, travel has become even more difficult and dangerous.

    Reason 3 - laws in the U.S. which restrict gay marriage, or make gay immigration nearly impossible.

    Reason 4 - Ali's oldest and youngest brothers both died of cancer many years ago. When that happened, he devoted himself to supporting his sisters-in-law, as well as his nieces and nephews. As long as they were reliant on him, he chose to work several jobs to make sure they were provided for.

    Last updated:


  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    13 backers

    You will receive a personal thank you letter from Alex and Ali!

  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    74 backers

    A personal thank you letter from Alex and Ali, plus a copy of the DVD!

  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    27 backers

    A personal thank you letter from Alex and Ali; a DVD; and your choice of a campaign T-Shirt, one of which reads "Peace With Iran = Gay Love," the other option featuring a picture of Alex and Ali together in Iran, with the text "Live Free. Love Free. "

  • You selected
    Pledge $125 or more

    8 backers

    All the above + the movie poster, personally signed by Alex and Ali.

  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    3 backers

    All the above, plus your name in the "Special Thanks" section of the end credits in the movie.

  • You selected
    Pledge $1,000 or more

    2 backers

    All the above + a special edition bound copy of a book containing selected love letters which Alex and Ali have written to each other over the last 30+ years. The book will be personally signed by Alex and Ali.

  • You selected
    Pledge $10,000

    0 backers

    All the above + an "Associate Producer" screen credit appearing in the end credits of the movie, and - if Alex succeeds in bringing Ali to the U.S. - a Sunday morning brunch with Alex, Ali, and Malachi. ***NOTE*** If you give $25,000, you're coming with us to Alex and Ali's reunion in the Middle East!!

Funding period

- (30 days)