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The Legacy of Ben-Hur Sepehr

BEN-HUR SEPEHR. Grand Mentor of Dr. Mark Rafter and his very personal farewell by his friend.                                                        
While saddened this night of the passing of my friend and mentor I too am in celebration that he is in heaven. A man who lived a storybook life and to the fullest. I was fortunate to be able to spend this last month while Ben stayed in my home while getting treatments in Irvine in his fight against cancer.  Ben shared such amazing stories about his life. Ben is survived by a large family and a bevy of dear friends. Now in heaven and in no more pain or suffering, May Ben enter into Almighty God’s Rest.

Ben-Hur Sepehr, an award-winning writer, filmmaker and director who studied under famed Oscar Award Winning Director Ingmar Bergman and Frank Sundstrom in Sweden. In Iran, Ben worked as Production Coordinator for Jon Negulesco’s feature film, The Heroes, starring Stuart Whitman, Elke Summer, and Kurt Jurgens. Ben was hired by the Ministry of Culture and Education to produce several documentaries, while simultaneously serving as Filmmaker and Videographer for the late Shah of Iran and met and interacted with many world leaders. Ben knowing my great love for Zhou Enlai would share about this great Statesman.  At the onset of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Equipped with the ability to speak 5 languages, Ben fled to the US with his family, leaving behind all their assets. Upon arriving in America, he wrote and produced a 4-hour documentary plus two short films. One of Ben’s short films titled, “A Journey to Finland, “earned him an Award of Excellence. Ben was privileged to have worked with numerous theatrical and cinematic icons, writers, actors, directors and producers in films and stage productions.
One of the common threats we shared was our acknowledgment and interaction with MLK. While studying in Sweden, Ben had the honor of meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King, and comparatively discussing the racial and religious prejudices each had grown up with. King’s parting words to young Ben was to never forget God in all his endeavors. It had a lifelong and profound impact on him, and was a driving force behind all his works, especially “The Desperate,” which won 69 film awards and the Italians declared Ben, “Grand Maestro.”
It inspired Ben to create a non-profit organization called “Tolerance Through Knowledge,” to attempt to expose and reverse racial, religious, and gender prejudice and discrimination.
Ben taught me how to use the media by creating classic-style storytelling movies for audiences of all ages and cultures that tell great inspirational stories with powerful characters and messages, designed to entertain, inform, and challenge viewers to respect and embrace the diversity of mankind.
Dr. Mark A. Rafter
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