SHAHIN PARHAMI EVENING

THE SOUTH ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL OF MONTREAL IS PLEASED TO COLLABORATE WITH FESTIVAL ACCÈS ASIE & DIASPORA FILM FESTIVAL (TORONTO) TO BRING YOU

Cinematic Poetry of Shahin Parhami – A Diasporic Journey

On Saturday, March 13, 2021, the world of documentary filmmakers lost one of their best. After ten months, Montreal-based Iranian Canadian Shahin Parhami lost his short battle to leukemia and left all his admirers behind.

Shahin was born in Shiraz in 1967 and migrated to Canada in 1988. He studied film at Carleton University in Ottawa and later earned his BFA degree in Film Production from Concordia University in Montreal. As an independent artist, he carved out a niche in the world of creative documentary cinema, constructing lyrical visuals on-screen while challenging mainstream imaginaries about Iranian society and diasporic communities.

Throughout his career, Parhami pushed the boundaries of cinematic language, starting with his early trilogy of Nasoot (1997), Lahoot (1998), and Jabaroot (2003), to his latest endeavour, Marcel (2021). His poetic cinema highlights the work of artists engaged in mediums like music, acting, sculpture, painting, choreography, and literature. Shahrzaad’s Tale (2015), about an iconic star of popular Iranian cinema, and Amin (2010), which chronicles the struggles of a Qashqai violinist to preserve his community’s musical traditions, were both nominated for Best Feature Documentary at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, the “Asian Oscars.” Amin also won awards at Yamagata International Documentary Festival, Taiwan Film Festival, and Dubai Film Festival. Parhami’s FACES (2007) focuses on ten accomplished Iranian Canadian artists, for which he received the Best Feature Film award at FLEXIFF (2007) in Sydney, Australia. His last film, Marcel (2021), to be released posthumous, centers on the art and the life of Marcel Braitstein, a prominent Canadian sculptor.

Film scholars and critics have received Parhami’s work favourably. Variety praised AMIN as “a beautifully crafted portrait,” and Maggie Haberman of the Hollywood Reporter characterized it as a “heartfelt documentary.” Film scholar Peter Rist (2011) has noted Parhami’s formalist innovations and “the challenging, experimental approach to film form that he consistently adopts,” while Donato Torato (2106) observes that his style underscores “a poetic treatment of history and the loss associated with the past.”

In addition to filmmaking, Parhami’s talents extended to photography, poetry, drawing and painting, composing music, and playing guitar. He once stated that cinema was the perfect métier for him since it allowed him to combine his creative interests.

The South Asian Film Festival of Montreal (SAFFM), in collaboration with the Diaspora Film Festival (DFF) of Toronto, and Festival Accès Asie, has prepared a tribute to Shahin Parhami, with a selection of his films, to be presented throughout the 2021 edition of the SAFFM. This special presentation will end with the screening of JABAROOT (2003) at the Cinematheque Québécoise, Montreal, on Saturday, November 27, 2021, at 6:30 PM, preceded by an introduction of Shahin’s life, and followed by a panel discussion on Shahin’s career and achievements to conclude this special event. For a listing of showtimes of Shahin’s films, please visit https://www.saffm.centrekabir.com

Film number 1:
Every Angel Is Terrifying. a film by Shahin Parhami
2019

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Every Angel is Terrifying – Rilke is a lyrical and poetic film that narrates a day of Hossein’s life, a German literature professor and an expert on Rilke’s poetry, in Tehran. He is also a poet and has translated a selection of Rilke’s poetry into Persian. The highlight of his day is that Hossein has finally managed to book a recording session in a prestigious sound studio, to record the recitation of his translated poems professionally. But the day’s mood suddenly and drastically changes as he receives a few phone calls that bear life-changing news. This film is a beautiful meditation on art and life and the profound resonances of a poet across cultures

A film by Shahin Parhami
Based on Hossein Mehdizadeh’s translations of Rainer Maria Rilke’s selected poetry.
Written by Hossein Mehdizadeh and Shahin Parhami

Film number 2:

Shahrzaad’s Tale is the story of a lost era and a forgotten star of pre-revolutionary Iranian cinema. Shahrzaad is the pseudonym of an early 1960s popular Iranian actor who is also a published writer/poet and Iran’s first woman filmmaker. She saw her fortunes plummet dramatically after the Revolution of 1979. After more than 30 years of being out of work, Shahrzaad was a wandering homeless in her late sixties at the time of the filming. This film is the tale of an incredible female artist caught in three decades of political turmoil in the cultural landscape of contemporary Iran.

Film number 2:
Shahrzaad’s Tale
2015

film2
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Director: Shahin PARHAMI
Country: Iran/Canada/Korea
Date of Production: Oct 2015
Running Time: 108 min
Color / Format: DCP / Color/B&W

Film number 3:

Amin is a film about an ancient musical tradition and one man’s struggle to preserve it. It is said that this narrative uses a unique approach to documentary storytelling that challenges the boundaries of fiction and reality. Amin Aghaie is a modern young nomad from the south of Iran. He has dedicated his life to preserving, documenting, and teaching the unique music of his people, the Qashqai, a tradition on the verge of extinction. Despite facing steep financial, cultural and political obstacles, Amin’s parents are devoted to their art and culture. They express their conviction by supporting the work of their talented musician son. Every summer, Amin travels to remote towns and villages to record the music of the surviving masters whose numbers decline each year. His nomadic family sells their meager belongings to help support their son’s education in performance and ethnomusicology at Tchaikovsky’s Conservatory in Kyiv, Ukraine, but it is not enough. Amin, desperate to finish his academic education, sells his violins one at a time just to pay for his tuition.

Film number 3:
Amin, a film by Shahin Parhami
2010

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A Presents in Association with EYESTEELFILM
A SHAHIN PARHAMI FILM
Featuring AMIN AGHAIE
Producer SHAHIN PARHAMI
Associate Producers LARA BRAITSTEIN, PATRICIA DIAZ
Consulting Producer BOB MOORE
Music AMIN AGHAIE
Sound-Mix DINO EMILIO GIANCOLA.
120 min, HD, Colour and B&W, Iran, South Korea, Canada, 2010

Film number 4:

As a tribute to Shahin’s life, this film will be screened for a live audience at Cinematheque Québécoise, Montreal, on Saturday, November 27, 2021, at 6:30 PM, preceded by an introduction of Shahin’s life, and followed by a panel discussion of his work, after the showing of the film.

a film by Shahin Parhami
2003
An experimental documentary on a diasporic traditional Iranian musician 

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Free admission, limited seats, first come first served.

Acclaimed Iranian-Canadian musician Kiya Tabassian leaves behind the slush, congested, and impersonal towering buildings of his home in Montreal to encounter the deep sources and inspirations of diasporic Persian music. Tabassian’s search takes us on a richly textured journey into the landscapes, the poetry, the memories, and above all, the compelling spirituality of the music of southern Iran. He meets many legendary poets and performers of Iranian music in remote mountain villages, including Ostad Mohamad Hossein Kiyani and Ostad Habibollah Gorginpoor.

Shahin Parhami has constructed an equally poetic and eloquent visual documentation of this journey, full of intimate perceptions and abstract meditative connections between here and there, past and present. A great affirmation of music as life.

Director: Shahin PARHAMI
Country: Iran/Canada
Date of Production: 2003
Running Time: 59 min
Color

Panelists for post-screening discussions of Shahin Parhami

Khosro Berahmandi: The moderator

Khosro Berahmandi is a multidisciplinary artist and the artistic Director of the Festival Accès Asie.

Invited guest from Boston: Naveed Nour is a Boston based photographer and filmmaker. He received his BFA from Ottawa University. While he works mostly in the documentary genre, Naveed also uses drawing and painting in tandem with his photography to create illustrative art.

Invited guest from Toronto: Shahram Tabe is the founding director of the Diaspora Film Festival that celebrates its 21st anniversary this year. He is a film critic and teaches International Cinema at the Toronto Film School.

Peter Rist: Professor Peter Rist, Ph.D., a former chair of the department, teaches primarily undergraduate film studies at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema at Concordia University in Montreal. Rist is also a regular contributor to the online journal of film studies, Offscreen. His expertise includes Canadian, African, South American, and East Asian Cinema, 3rd Cinema, and experimental film/installation/performance art.

Tamara Vukov: Tamara Vukov is a filmmaker/media artist, researcher, and writer based in Montréal / Tiohtiá:ke / Mooniyang. Her films, videos, and writing have been presented internationally. Tamara’s work and life have been layered and intertwined with the films and life of Shahin Parhami in a number of ways since the 1990s, and Shahin’s move to Montréal. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the Université de Montréal.

Three shorts:

Nasoot, a film by Shahin Parhami
1997
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Nasoot is an Islamic mythological term for the world of mortal existence. This film is a poetic meditation on the death of three Iranian refugees who committed suicide in Ottawa in the late 1990s.  By evoking the power of memory and history, this film is about dispossession, exile, and alienation caused by war and displacement.

Bonus: The making of Nasoot https://vimeo.com/404064609

Writer SHAHIN PARHAMI
Director SHAHIN PARHAMI
Director of Photography BRENDON REINHOLDT
Sound ARMEN ABALIAN
Edit SHAHIN PARHAMIN
Color/B&W, 7 minutes, in Farsi with English Subtitles
Produced by CINEMASHENA – a SHAHIN PARHAMI production
Running Time 8 minutes – Canada/Iran

 

 

Lahoot, a film by Shahin Parhami
1998
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Writer, Cinematographer, Producer, Editor, and Director:
SHAHIN PARHAMI
Original Music: KIYA TABASSIAN
Cast: FARANGIS ZAND, RHODA ABAGIS,
GILDA PARHAMI, ANITA OKHOVAT,
and PARVIZ PARHAMI
Filmed in 16mm, Colour and B&W
Duration:17min
Country: Canada (1998)

 

 

Stem Cell II, a film by Shahin Parhami
2021
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Stem Cell II is Shahin Parhami’s artistic perspective on the isolated hospital experience after his diagnosis and treatment of a rare and aggressive type of cancer during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“In May 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, I was diagnosed with plasma cell leukemia, a rare and aggressive type of cancer. This short film is my perspective, as a filmmaker, of the hospital experience in the aftermath of my two stem-cell transplants to treat the disease when I was recovering in a special isolation ward in Montreal, Canada. I had a choice between undergoing this procedure or going into palliative care. So, this was my last chance for remission. I am an artist who has worked in experimental and creative documentary cinema for the past 30 years.”

“This short film was shot entirely on a mobile phone and edited on a laptop in the hospital during the recuperation period, whenever I found the energy to work on this project. This film gives you an impression of the patient’s experience during their stay in the cold institutional environment, without the comfort of friends and visitors, in complete solitude, save for the presence of healthcare workers and the ubiquitous machines in the space.”

“The sonic design consists of available environmental sounds I recorded alongside the images, layered with experimental ambient music composed by a friend. We also hear the doctor’s voiceover describing the stem cell transplant, accompanied by images of the invasive treatment regime from the unique vantage point of the patient—the constant injections, stem-cell extractions, blood transfusions, heavy chemotherapy, and so on. These are aestheticized visuals of procedures that most have never witnessed, especially the Covid pandemic when limited hospital access. Starting with the sight of winter snowfall, as seen from the window of the patient’s room, the film ends with lyrical images of light striating the space, and the sun rising at dawn, offering a sentiment of hope.”

Director SHAHIN PARHAMI
Camera SHAHIN PARHAMI
Edit SHAHIN PARHAMI
Running Time 7 minutes
Production Date 2021