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 >
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.
Rana Farhan, the New York based Iranian singer, along with her band, had a performance at Yoshi’s San Francisco, on October 2, 2011, that was quite well-received.
“I do not know how Rana manages to combine the classical Persian poetry with contemporary jazz and blues and make it sound so good but she does it,” said Sharareh, one of Rana Farhan’s fans at Yoshi’s in San Francisco.
As an Iranian American singer, Rana Farhan has found a way to sing the rich classical poetry of Iran with the underground sound of the America, jazz and blues. Her ability to fuse these two very distinct cultures and More >
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 >
At the end of June 2010, shortly after my move to the San Francisco Bay Area, I had the opportunity to attend a Persian classical music concert by the local group Meehan Ensemble. I was up for a very pleasant surprise — a beautifully arranged performance with all original compositions. It was also a very a well-rehearsed and well-organized concert that I enjoyed very much.
Faraz Minooei, who along with Naser Sheikhzadegan, co-founded Meehan Ensemble in 2008, dedicated the concert to the great santur virtuoso Parviz Meshkatian, who passed away in 2009. Faraz also announced that the group would More >