Born in Seattle, Washington, Rainn Wilson might be one of the only actors from The Office who didn’t grow up around Boston. (Way to represent, B.J. Novak, John Krasinski and Mindy Kaling.) This weekend, however, Wilson will be in the hub, touring colleges and promoting the 30-minute documentary Education Under Fire, that explores the universal right to higher education through the lens of the Baha’i community in Iran.
For 30 years, members of the Baha’i community were denied their right to higher education by the Islamic Republic of Iran. The film focuses on the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE), a grassroots university system established to educate those who had lost their rights, and how they were put under attack this past May. In opposition to the BIHE, the government raided dozens of homes, confiscating computers and materials, and detaining a number of the institution’s professors and administrators, some of whom still remain in prison. Currently, the BIHE is the only access to higher education people in Baha’i have.
With roughly 152,000 students in Boston, the film will hopefully spark conversations and incite people to action across the city’s campuses.
Tonight, there will be an initial screening at MIT — beginning at 7 p.m. — followed by a panel discussion. Panel members include: Rainn Wilson, a fellow Baha’i; David Hoffman, founder and executive producer of Education Under Fire; Dr. Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, former member of Iranian Parliament and current faculty member in the Women’s Studies Program at the University of Massachusetts Boston; and Mojdeh Rohani, the associate clinical director for the Community of Legal Services and Counseling Center in Cambridge. The discussion will be moderated by Joshua Rubenstein, Amnesty’s Northeast regional director. The event is free and open to the public, in room 123 of MIT’s Stata Building.
If you cannot attend tonight’s event, there will be other screenings taking place throughout the weekend and into the week. Tomorrow, Wheelock College will be hosting a screening of Education Under Fire in the Wheelock Family Theatre at 7 p.m. And on Tuesday, November 15th, Boston University will be debuting the film in the Morse Auditorium at 11 a.m.
Imagine being denied the right to higher education. That, in itself, should spark some conversation.