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2011 seemed like a big year for Iranian cinema on the world stage — mostly because of one film and director: Asghar Farhadi and his film A Separation (a powerful drama about life’s challenges for a middle-class couple in Tehran on the verge of divorce, which people from all over could relate to), won both a Golden Globe and an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category in USA in 2012. The film was also Oscar-nominated for the Best Original Screenplay. Mr Farhadi and his wonderful film received numerous other accolades around the globe including the Golden Bear Award for Best Motion More >
One of the most interesting objects from the ancient times, is the famed Cylinder of Cyrus the Great, king of Persia (600 BC – 530 BC). The cylinder that permanently resides in the British Museum in London, will be on tour in five major cities across the United States from March through December 2013.
Cyrus Cylinder is a source of pride for Iranians as it’s a reminder of the glorious past of the ancient Persian empire under the rule of Cyrus. Furthermore, Cyrus Cylinder is significant as it is widely recognized as the first declaration of human rights More >
This year San Francisco Film Society‘s International Film Festival held in April – May 2012 featured a number of Iranian films. One interesting film was Chicken with Plums by the Paris-based Iranian author and director Marjane Satrapi, co-directed by Vincent Paronnaud. This film (which I think is more French than Iranian) as well as other works by Satrapi deserve their own discussion and I hope to cover some of that in another time.
I vaguely recall a popular social game that children used to play in Iran, Amoo Zanjeer baaf (literally “uncle chain-knitter”). The game has lyrics that kids would sing:عمو زنجیرباف، زنجیرم بافتی؟ - بله پشته کوه انداختی؟ - بله …
I don’t exactly remember how the game was played; and I wouldn’t be writing this piece had it not been for a beautiful song by the same name, Amoo Zanjeer Baaf, written, composed and performed by a young Iranian musician, Mohammad Reza Asrar, that I recently came across.
Amoo Zaneer Baaf in Asrar’s song is not a friend to the children. Quite the contrary, he’s an More >
Iranian cultures and arts are rich and diverse, and have their roots in the ancient civilizations that developed as early as the fourth millennium BCE — about 4,000 years before any theistic religion came to existence — across the Iranian plateau.
We have a rich history and culture that we should know about, celebrate and be proud of. Long before Islam came to existence, Zoroastrainism (6th century BC), was the ancient Iranian religion that advocated good thoughts, good words, and good deeds. It survives to More >
I had the opportunity to see the recent concert by Niyaz in the San Francisco Bay Area (at Yoshi’s Oakland in September), as part of their world tour. After performances in Oakland, LA and Vancouver, their tour went on to Tunisia, Turkey and Slovenia in October and they have concerts in NYC, Toronto and Philadelphia in November. For details on their upcoming performances see the event calendar.
Zohreh & Manouchehr is a 23-page long poem written by the early 20th century Iranian poet and satirist Iraj Mirza, who in turn based it on William Shakespeare’s poem “Venus and Adonis”. And this story has ties to the ancient Greek mythology.
It is the story of Zohreh (Venus, the goddess of love and beauty) who one day comes to earth in the form of a beautiful woman for a short rest, and by accident runs into the young and handsome prince, Manouchehr, next to a stream and at once desires him. So she sets out to pursue and seduce him. Manouchehr who is out with his More >
I first heard about the film Circumstance (also see IMDB and this) during its world premier at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2011. It was one of the 16 films out of more than 1,100 submissions that was selected for the Sundance film competition, and it went on to win the “Audience Award: Dramatic“.
Luckily I had the chance to see it at the San Francisco International Film Festival this week. Both screenings were sold out early on but I managed to get a ticket from a friend. I loved it. It is a beautiful, luscious, sensual and sexually charged drama, done artfully and tastefully. It is More >
I am generally not a huge fan of Persian pop music except some old timers like Dariush, Farhad (RIP), Googoosh, Haydeh (RIP), among few others, many of whom have been performing since before the 1979 revolution.
Among the newer pop singers I like the Iran-based Mohsen Chavoshi with melancholic love songs. The rapper, Shahin Najafi who is based in Europe, has got powerful social/political lyrics, though it is not really pop music.
And of course we have the SF Bay Area based Kiosk lead by Arash Sobhani, with his insightful social and political songs. But again in terms of style of music they More >
As I have discussed in About Iranians, Iran is a diverse country both geographically and culturally. Geographically we have it all — from the open seas and hot climate in the south along the Persian Gulf, to the dry and extreme climate of vast central and eastern deserts such as Dasht’e Kavir, to the cold climate of high mountain chains such as Alborz and Zagros, to the verdant north coast (Shomal) along the Caspian Sea with mild four season climate with high humidity and precipitation.
Ethnically Iran and Iranians are also quite diverse. Many of us use the terms Iranian and Persian More >