Selected Film:

Exit 12

Selected Film:

Exit 12

Why We Chose This Film

Thoughts, ideas, and things to consider about this film...

About the Filmmaker

Mohammad Gorjestani was born in Tehran, Iran and immigrated to the United States during the Iran-Iraq War. As a filmmaker, he mines the resilient narratives of marginalized characters and communities across both narrative and documentary projects. In 2014, his near-future drama, “Refuge” screened at the Tribeca and SXSW Film Festivals and earned him a place on Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film in 2014. He has earned 9 Vimeo Staff Picks has been featured by outlets including CNN, The Guardian, and The Atlantic. In 2018, his film “Sister Hearts” earned the Tribeca X Award, a Silver Clio Award for Directing, and was nominated for a Cinema Eye Honor. In 2019, his film “Exit 12”, won the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary Shorts at SXSW. He is a 2x KRF Filmmaking grant recipient from SFFilm (formerly The San Francisco Film Society) and is currently developing his first feature project. He is based in San Francisco where he is also a co-founder of Even/Odd, a cultural creative studio and production company.

Dive Even Deeper

Try the following to connect further with the film’s story…

Create a set of movements to confront a past trauma or conflict

  • Instead of using words, try to create a set of motions or movements that explore a past trauma or conflict that you’ve experienced. Try to break this past event into parts and consider a way to reflect these parts with a movement—as simple or as complicated as you like. For example, feel free to create movements that can be done while seated. Also, consider repetitive movements for emphasis or to further story-telling.

  • Perform these movements for a loved one or record them using your phone, and reflect. How does it feel to use a new active vocabulary to communicate an event or story?

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Tell Us Your Thoughts and Join The Conversation


  1. Herman

    I thought it was great to see dancers and veterans produce such an emotional performance around military service. Like music and art, it was clear that dance can be a very effective way to express ideas and feelings around very difficult experiences. I liked the phrase used towards the end of film, “you cannot put a veteran into a box”. I was still surprised to see what I would consider stereotypical veterans (like the seemingly hardened Viet Nam veteran), finding such a powerful emotional outlet through dance. Could he have even acknowledged his feelings of shame and being scared before participating in this program?

  2. Anonymous

    Having a son in law who has been in Afghanistan and other areas of the middle east I worry how his experiences will affect him when he is back home. While we try to understand what he went through we will never ever really understand. We support him but aren’t really prepared to know how to help.I never had thought about dance as an outlet. I will share this with him.

  3. Emilia

    I grew up in a military family and my family was stationed close-by in Asia during the Vietnam War. It profoundly affected my young life so I can only imagine how much more the experience of war affects and changes the lives of those who lived through combat. This project is smart and important. It inspires me to find creative ways to express my feelings about my experience. I’m going to share this film with all the members of my family who served in the military, especially those who went to war. Thank you for this work and for the sensitive film about it.

  4. Judy

    This is a compelling story of an amazing man as he evolves from being an engineer to a dancer. Using his own life experience to share and grow a community and share it with his movies. A transformative , powerful story of living life to the fullest and sharing it beyond one person.

  5. Bernadette Hightower-hughes

    The films in the UnLonely Project help me to see different perspectives, especially the positives ones we aren’t always taught to see. These perspectives always extrapolate to my own life. EXIT12 was very compelling because it showed the dichotomy we experience between the harshes parts of human life including war, distrust, aggression, suicide and loss to the lovely parts of human expression through writing, art, commitment, love and dance.

  6. Anonymous

    I enjoyed watching how they expressed themselves through dance. Some veterans can never do this type of expression because of their experiences are too traumatic (PTSD) . I am sure that some of them have seen this movie through therapy.

  7. Tanya Odendaal

    I was deeply moved by the personal stories of these veterans of war. By the honesty and openness with which they share the ongoing devastation war has brought into their lives and the lives of their loved ones. I am astounded by how powerfully the dance transcends speech and thought and hit me right in the heart. So that I feel almost as deeply the commitment, the loss, the resignation, the survival of these veterans of life.

    Absolutely superb direction and cinematography.


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