Pirooz Kalayeh

Visual Director in the Division of Philosophy, Art and Critical Thought and Faculty Fellow at The European Gradate School.

Pirooz Kalayeh*


Pirooz Kalayeh is a filmmaker, artist, and author. His past films include THE HUMAN WARSHOPLIFTING FROM AMERICAN APPARELBRAD WARNER’S HARDCORE ZENZOMBIE BOUNTY HUNTER M.D., and CTRL ALT DEL. His web series is STORIES BETWEEN IRAN & AMERICA. His latest documentary feature is SOMETIMES I DREAM IN FARSI.

Pirooz Kalayeh loves combining his multifaceted experiences as an artist, musician, writer, actor, and director to create new hybrids and innovations in storytelling. Formerly a neuroscience major and obedient first generation immigrant, Pirooz broke with tradition and gave heart attacks to Iranian parents everywhere by joining musical group Cecil’s Water and touring with such acclaimed artists as The Caulfields, The Toasters, Ruder Than You, Spindrift, The Verge, and others.

He obtained a BA in English Literature from The University of Delaware and an MFA in Creative Writing from The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. His multicultural stories, poetry translations, and corporate satires have been widely published in journals and anthologies, including Looking Back (New Brighton Books, 2003), New Orleans Review, Wigleaf, Ducts, Past Simple, Horseless Press, and No Tell Motel.

Poet Jim Goar describes his debut novel The Whopper Strategies as “a book that demystifies and devours our corporate culture”, while screenwriter and novelist Charles Yu (WESTWORLD) commends it for being “like nothing you have read before” and novelist Laird Hunt calls him “a writer to watch.”

Pirooz’s films have been featured in L.A. Weekly, Village Voice, Vice, and Indiewire. L.A. Weekly calls him “an energetic and loquacious multi-hyphenate” with Indiewire labeling SHOPLIFTING… as “five projects we’re rooting for” and Village Voice crediting him for “capturing much of the tone of the novella.”

Pirooz is a recipient of the Zora Neale Hurston Scholarship Award from Naropa University and a Best Screenplay Award for THE HUMAN WAR. He is currently working on documentary and episodic pieces that deal with race and identity.

SOMETIMES I DREAM IN FARSI is a feature documentary that deals with a traumatic racist incident in his childhood and his subsequent journey to recovery over the past five years.

His other major project is a weekly digital series STORIES BETWEEN IRAN & AMERICA, which blends stories from his childhood with phone conversations with family and friends during the pandemic, and includes their perspectives on everything from protests for George Floyd, the upcoming election, and the cultural differences between them.

Pirooz received his PhD in Philosophy, Art, & Critical Thought from The European Graduate School. His dissertation explores the hybridization of narrative and documentary storytelling in the works of Abbas Kiarostami and Caveh Zahedi, and how their juxtapositions between cinema and reality offer an entrance into the sublime. His thesis adviser was Mike Figgis.

Coinciding with his professional work in film and television, Pirooz has taught cinema studies, acting, and film production courses to a diverse array of students around the globe, including UCLA Extension, The American Musical and Dramatic Academy, Yonsei University, Monroe Community College, and Naropa University. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Screenwriting and Media Arts Production at Southern Illinois University.