Bahrani was born on March 20, 1975, and raised in Winston-Salem, NC. An excellent student, Bahrani headed to New York City's Columbia University after graduating high school, primarily attracted by the Middle East and Asian Languages and Culture department at the school. However, film was his main passion, and after four years of studying theory and technique, as well as developing a strong affinity for directors like Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami, Italian neorealist Vittorio DeSica, and spiritual-minded French filmmaker Robert Bresson, Bahrani graduated with a bachelor's degree from the film department. He then traveled to Iran, his parents' homeland, for the first time and ended up staying for three years, all the while learning about his culture and particularly studying the legacy of Irani filmmakers. While there, he wrote, directed, and starred in a semi-autobiographical film, "Strangers" (2000) which followed an Iranian-American's journey to discover his roots.After returning to New York in 2002, Bahrani found inspiration for his first feature-length film among the city's innumerable mobile food sellers, and spent the next several years making "Man Push Cart" (2005). In this study of a coffee and donut vendor who was once a famous pop star in his native Pakistan, Bahrani immediately proved himself to be a compelling storyteller; able to extract intimate, compassionate performances from the untrained actors he preferred to use. His international vision received a glowing reception, screening at, among others, the Sundance and Venice film festivals, and earning 10 awards in addition to three nominations from the Independent Spirit Awards.Further delivering on his stated purpose to "make films about people and the human condition in the modern globalized world," Bahrani wrote and directed "Chop Shop" (2007), which followed a pair of parentless teens eking out a hardscrabble existence in an industrial neighborhood in Queens, NY. A second achievement where the filmmaker seemingly vanished in the face of stunning realism from first-time actors Alejandro Polanco and Isamar Gonzales, "Chop Shop" was again acclaimed at international film festivals and garnered Bahrani an Independent Spirit Award for Someone to Watch, Director.With Bahrani's third release, "Goodbye Solo" (2008), the filmmaker earned the prestigious critic's prize at the Venice Film Festival and was now widely regarded as a key figure in a new wave of international filmmaking. Again he offered a story where class, nationality and worldview try to coexist with the tale of a Senegalese taxi driver in North Carolina hired to ferry an old white Southerner to the site of his promised suicide. Bahrani earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Director for his third success, prompting film critic Roger Ebert to comment "After only three films, Bahrani has established himself as a major director."