Wednesday, March 5
Location: Schermerhorn Hall 501
Kamran Shirdel is considered one of Iran's most influential documentary filmmakers. Women's Prison (1966), Tehran is the Capital of Iran (started in 1966, but finished in 1980), The Red Light District (1967-80) and The Night It Rained (1967) are among his most well-known films made during the Pahlavi era. In retrospect, The Night, can be seen as one of the earlier instances of a number of filmic qualities often associated with the Iranian cinema today. Subversive both in content and in style, it is a film that through irony and formal playfulness destabilizes claims of truthful representation-in journalism, in ethnography, in bureaucratic efficiency, in educational hierarchies, and, not least, in documentary realism. In 1972, Shirdel made his first (and, to date, only complete) fiction feature, The Morning of the Fourth Day, a remake of Jean-Luc Godard's 1960 À bout de souffle. This move from the documentary mode into the fiction cinema industry was a trajectory taken by a number of New Wave filmmakers at the time in Iran, as it was in many other places around the world. The extraordinary challenges faced by Shirdel, always critical, always unconventional, however ceased to exist. Throughout the 70s and 80s, he directed a substantial number of commissioned industrial documentaries, many of them now considered as the classics of their genre in Iran, for their lyricism, abstraction, and irony.
Amir Naderi, now living in New York for more than two decades, has directed some of the most celebrated films in the history of Iranian cinema. After a number of years of working in the film industry as a still photographer, he made his feature debut Goodbye Friend in 1970, and in 1971 The Dead-end.
Hamid Dabashi is the Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He engages with Iranian cinema by not only placing specific filmic texts within the larger socio-political context, and the Iranian intellectual history, but also by opening them to other artistic modes such as Persian poetry and fiction.
Free and open to the public.
This event is sponsored by Columbia's Middle East Institute, MESAAS, and School of the Arts (FILM).