Rastegar is a first-generation Iranian-American raised in Atlanta, Georgia.
She graduated from Wellesley College, magna cum laude with a degree in Economics and Mathematics. After a few years as an investment banker, she decided to pursue her doctorate under the guidance of activist and historian Angela Y. Davis, and feminist film critic and theorist B. Ruby Rich. She holds a Masters in Feminist Studies and a PhD in the History of Consciousness from the University of California.
She is currently finishing a manuscript on American film festivals, the history and contemporary reality of how race and gender operate in visual culture, and the role of film festivals amidst massive change in the film industry.
She lives in Los Angeles, California with her wife, Moj Mahdara, CEO of Beautycon, and terrible two's toddler.
Rastegar is an award winning filmmaker, story producer and writer. She is a 2014 Creative Capital grantee in Emerging Fields and in development on an Iranian-American comedy series.
She co-wrote WILDNESS (2012), a magical-realist documentary directed by MacArthur Genius fellow Wu Tsang. WILDNESS premiered at MoMA’s Documentary Fortnight, SxSW Film Festival, won the Grand Jury Prize at Outfest, and has been written about by notable academics Jose Munoz, Fred Moten, and Jack Halberstam.
Rastegar is currently in post-production on VENUS AS A BOY (2020), a romantic comedy directed by and starring Ty Hodges, with a global ensemble cast led by Olivia Culpo, Trace Lysette, Estelle, and Bai Ling.
Rastegar produced GAGA: FIVE FOOT TWO (2017), the Live Nation / Netflix Original documentary portrait of Lady Gaga, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. She executive produced THE OBITUARY OF TUNDE JOHNSON (2019), a sci-fi time loop thriller which marks the directorial debut for acclaimed show-runner Ali LeRoi (Everybody Hates Chris), and also premiered to critical acclaim at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Roya Rastegar has over 15 years professional experience in the film industry with a demonstrated commitment to breaking the careers of underrepresented filmmakers in the industry. She has served on the selection committee of marquis American film festivals, including Sundance, Tribeca, and the LA Film Festival has been pivotal for breaking the directorial careers of some of the most acclaimed filmmakers of color, female filmmakers and LGBTQ filmmakers working today.
Rastegar speaks at global academic conferences and industry panels at film industry events at Sundance, Women in Film, SAG-AFTRA and more.
She writes from the academic perspective of a critically acclaimed scholar and historian, grounded in 15+ years of experience in the film industry as a film curator and producer.
Her writing on gender, race and popular culture can be found in Wired, The Nation, and The Huffington Post, alongside academic peer-reviewed journals, including Camera Obscura and Screen Journal.
She teaches critical race theory, gender studies, and film theory/praxis at universities across the country, most recently at Bryn Mawr College and UCLA.
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