Wednesday, May 6, 2015

An Iranian Diaspora

In 2013, the Cyrus Cylinder, a 6th century B.C. Middle Eastern relic often referred to as "the first declaration of human rights," toured the U.S. This weekend, a collection of shorts inspired by the traveling American exhibit will premiere at the Eastern Breeze International Film Festival in Toronto.

A mix of Iranian, British and American filmmakers came together for 7 Sides of a Cylinder, screening Saturday May 9th at the Magic Lantern Carlton Cinema. One of the more intriguing entries is The Mightiest by Maryam Kashani. From the program notes:

The Mightiest portrays the confluence of a shooting, an NRA (National Rifle Association) convention and the Cyrus Cylinder opening in Houston, Texas to reflect upon gun violence and the contemporary ethics of war and governing, principles for which Cyrus had been much praised and admired. Traveling through Texas, the film juxtaposes physical landscapes and events, gesturing towards alternative futures and sensibilities through the texts of Iranian poetry.

Kashani is a Chicago-based filmmaker who recently completed her PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin. In 2006, she made Best in the West, a feature documentary about Iranian immigrants in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Several of the other 7 Sides directors have equally impressive credentials. Narges Bajoghli (Perpetuating a Legend?) is a PhD candidate currently enrolled in NYU’s Culture and Media program. She made the 2012 film The Skin That Burns, about Iranian survivors of chemical warfare, and co-founded the non-profit Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB).

Sara Khaki (The Beholder) earned her MFA in Social Documentary Film from the University of Maryland. Other current film projects include Facing the Mirror, a documentary about an Iranian-American plastic surgeon who has dedicated his life to treating citizens ravaged by war and another documentary about the launch of Al Jazeera America in the United States.

Like the tour, the movie was made with the support of the UK-based Iranian Heritage Foundation. Per the title, there are seven shorts in total, combining for a run time of 45 minutes.

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