Film Series

When God Sleeps

  • March 22, 2018

  • Post-screening Conversation with Hadi Ghaemi, Sara Nodjoumi, and Reza Mazaheri

“My songs did not make me famous. The fatwa did.” Sentenced to death for blasphemy, exiled to Germany, and forced to live in hiding, Iranian musician Shahin Najafi was found guilty. His crime? Writing hip-hop songs about controversial subjects like censorship, theocracy and, most incendiary of all, violence and discrimination against women. After fleeing to Cologne, we watch Najafi as he lives out an incredible adventure, even falling in love with the granddaughter of the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Armed only with the lyrics of his songs, rich in poetic, literary and philosophical references, and his live concerts, this story highlights the intimate and existential sides of a battle against silence. In the center, Shahin Najafi stands as an example to all migrants and refugees who strive to realize their hope for freedom.

Joined us for a screening of the internationally acclaimed documentary film, When God Sleeps, and an evening of discussion with the film’s producer, Sara Nodjoumi; the Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), Hadi Ghaemi; immigration attorney and the Deputy Executive Director of Resettlement & Legal Services of Artistic Freedom Initiative (AFI), Reza Mazaheri on the world’s current struggles over immigration, the commonalities that unite immigrant communities in our nation, and the importance of free expression.

This program was brought to the audience by FOLCS in collaboration with Artistic Freedom initiative (AFI) and The Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). AFI, a program of the SDK Foundation for Human Dignity, provides pro bono immigration representation and facilitates resettlement assistance to international artists at risk. CHRI is a non-profit organization that promotes human rights to ensure a culture of respect for the human dignity and rights of all and to hold Iranian state actors accountable to their international obligations.

For more information, please contact Shervin Abachi at

About the Film Festival

The annual FOLCS Film Series offers you a unique opportunity to watch and discuss movies dealing with legal themes, with a box of popcorn in hand and surrounded by a large friendly audience (most of whom are not lawyers, so you don’t need to know any legalese). Featuring an exciting mix of current blockbusters, classic favorites, documentaries, and independent movies over seven nights, the Film Festival illuminates the legal system with all of its triumphs, failures, moral dilemmas, and dramatic moments.

Each movie is followed by a post-screening discussion with renowned artists, writers, public intellectuals, government leaders, and members of the legal profession who have a particular connection to the film. Explore how the themes of justice and injustice continue to inspire the artistic imagination. Hear interesting stories and anecdotes. Get answers to your questions. And share your own ideas and viewpoints.

Additionally, the Forum invites filmmakers from across the globe to submit an original short film on a legal theme. The judges’ top picks are shown, discussed, and celebrated at the FOLCS Awards Night during the closing night of the Film Festival where the winning films receive the FOLCS Awards. The International Short Film Competition offers aspiring filmmakers an opportunity to be viewed by renowned judges and the Forum’s audience, who take part in the festivities by voting for the Audience Favorite Award—all taking place in New York City.