Performing Arts

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Iranian film festival 2014

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Iranian Film Festival held its 7th festival in San Francisco Sep. 27-28, 2014. They screened many features, shorts, animations and documentaries over the two days. The film that I saw primarily highlighted the social and cultural challenges of modern Iranian life The notables films for me were:

  • Hush! Girls Don’t Scream (2013), by Pouran Derakhshandeh, the story of a young woman who breaks down in the eve of her wedding because of suppressed and ignored sexual abuse in her childhood.
  • Trapped (2013), by Parviz Shahbazi, a thriller about a young woman who ends up picking a roommate with a lot More >
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A Delicious Vampire Movie in Farsi! And So Much More…

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A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a visually stunning black-n-white, romantic horror (vampire) film, all in Persian (with English subtitles) set in a fictitious dark and lonely town presumably in Iran called Bad City! Written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour (her first feature film) with lead Iranian-American actress Sheila Vand, who delivers a great performance. Her co-star is Germany-based Iranian actor Arash Marandi.

Vand plays a lonely and mysterious girl who inches the morbid streets of Bad City in a chador at nights looking for victims and perhaps love. She’s a vampire that seems to More >

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Spirits’ Lullaby by Dang Show

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Spirits’ Lullaby is a beautiful song and performance by Dang Show recorded live from a 2007 concert of theirs in Tehran. The lyrics are by Rumi (the 13th century Persian mystic and sufi) from his Shams collection. Dang Show does an amazing job here with a nice jazz arrangement that includes piano and saxophone. It’s truly a lullaby, 9 minutes of pure joy. Enjoy it.

Dang Show is a Persian band based in Iran founded by two brothers Taha Parsa and Reza Shaya in 2004. Their intent was a fresh interpretation of Iranian folk music with a fusion style music which incorporates jazz and creates More >

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Remembering Lotfi Mansouri, an influential opera director

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Mr. Lotfi Mansouri, the general director of the San Francisco Opera from 1988 to 2001, passed away in late August 2013 in San Francisco at the age of 84. He was suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Prior to SF Opera, he was the general director of the Canadian Opera Company from 1976 to 1988. He spent six years with the Zurich Opera (1960 – 1966) as the stage director, and then worked with the Geneva Opera for a decade.

Mr. Mansouri was a prolific showman and knew the intricacies of the stage business well. He produced and directed numerous operas during his career.

He was passionate about More >

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2013 Iranian Film Festival, San Francisco

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The 6th San Francisco Iranian Film Festival was held September 28-29, 2013, and screened tens of feature and short films over the two days. The Sepanta Awards announced for the first time by the organizers of the festival in 15 categories are noted below.

The anticipated film in the festival was Meeting Leila (2012), directed by Adel Yaraghi who also co-wrote the screenplay with Abbas Kiarostami, the world-renowned film director. Leila Hatami plays the lead role for which she received the Best Actress award. Hatami has become quite well-known since her strong performance in Asghar Farhadi’s More >

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Iranians in the 7th Asian Film Awards

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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 >

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A Cube of Sugar, a sweet Iranian Film

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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 want to dedicate this piece to a delightful new Iranian film, A Cube of Sugar, produced and directed by Reza Mirkarimi. It’s a visual, colorful and uplifting More >

Mommad Reza Asrar

Asrar’s “Amoo Zanjeer Baaf”

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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 >

Famous Persian scientists, scholars, ...

Iran & Iranians — a bit of distant history

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The extent of Persian Empire in Achaemenid era, via Wikipedia
Early History

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.

Cyrus Cylinder, via Wikipedia

Iran has a long and complex history. Cyrus the Great (~ 600 BC – 530 BC), king of Persia during Achaemenid dynasty and the founder of Persian empire, conquered much of the known civilizations and expanded the Persia which spread from More >

Azam Ali and Ramin Torkian, Yoshi's - Oakland, Sep. 2011

Niyaz, a blend of Sufi poetry & folk songs from Mid-East

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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.

I have seen Azam Ali perform since her pre-Niyaz days in late 1990s. Every time I’ve seen her, I have enjoyed her music more, and this last one was the best I’ve seen of her and of Niyaz. They More >

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