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Synopsis: Available June 10th Only!

Nader Vakili, a plant geneticist searching for disease resistant bananas in the early 1960s, discovered old trees being cut down in the tropical territories where he was stationed and began to collect the wood. 

With no formal training, he started carving. Inspired by the beauty of nature, Persian poetry, literature, and song, the sculptures took on lyrical curves and abstract forms. Sometimes, he reacted to beauty and sometimes to the injustices and contradictions he encountered throughout his travels. But it was the love of his life, his wife, Mary Jane, who provided him with the deepest desire to create sculptural sensuality through the intersection of nature and art. Now at 91, with Mary Jane suffering from Alzheimer’s and no longer living at home, Nader faces his mortality, the towering wood pile, and the absence of his beloved muse. Reciting Rumi, he dreams of a final statue to her memory.

Run Time

56 minutes


Nader Gholi Vakili

Directed by

Erin Harper
Lily Vakili

Produced by

Lily Vakili

Executive Producer

Blair Vakili

Edited by

Erin Harper


Adam Benn
Dennis Connors

Director's Statement

Erin Harper: I met Nader when he was 91 years old. … I believe that it is this encounter — between the documentarian and documented (I’ve never liked the word “subject”) — that sets the tone of a film. I began by logging hours of footage that were shot prior to my involvement. Nader’s singular and extraordinary artwork unfurled before me, but it was the love story between Nader and his wife that touched me most deeply.

Lily Vakili: The making of My Wild Heart started simply enough because it came to me in a dream. In the dream, I had completed the film. When I woke, I knew I had to make it. So, I embarked on an unpredictable and often maddening six-year quest to make the film a reality. What drove me on was the dream, which reveals my father’s art in the context of a marriage and a family and tells the extraordinary tale of the Iranian-American scientist and sculptor who loved my mother.

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