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I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all our guests, supporters, and volunteers who worked tirelessly to realize a dream which seemed too far-fetched not so long ago.Today, it is my genuine pleasure to welcome you all to Tirgan, a festival made out of thousands of hours of volunteer efforts, dedicated team work, and above all, endless love for the rich, ancient Iranian cultural heritage.We are determined to share Iranâ€™s cultural richness and beauty with people from varied backgrounds who make Canada a cross-roads of many civilizations. Tirgan is a tribute to the spirit of multiculturalism and diversity which embraces differences through tolerance and compassion. Tirgan is our invaluable contribution to the wonderful cultural mosaic of Canada.With this festival, we aim to help make a better world through understanding and cultural education. Tirgan is an amazing medley of original cultural expressions in Iranian music, dance, theater, film, visual arts, and literature. It is an effort to build a bridge between cultures, to bring people closer, to transcend geographical borders, and to enliven the soul. Finally, Tirgan is a token of appreciation from the flourishing Iranian-Canadian community to our generous and colourful new home, Canada. I would like to conclude by sharing with you a poem by the Iranian poet Rumi: I hold to no religion or creed, am neither Eastern nor Western, Zoroastrian, Christian, Jew or Gentile. I come from neither the land nor sea, am not related to those above or below, was not born nearby or far away, do not live either in Paradise or on this Earth, claim descent not from Adam and Eve or the Angels above. I transcend body and soul. My home is beyond place and name. It is with the beloved, in a space beyond space. I embrace all and am part of all. â€“Molana Jelaluddin Rumi 1207-1273
I hope you and your family enjoy Tirgan and take home a sweet taste of the ancient Iranian culture. Mehrdad Ariannejad CEO Tirgan Festival
July 2008 TIRGAN
Cover illustration painted by: Shahrzad T. Koraim
For the past three decades, large numbers of Iranians have left their homeland and settled predominantly in the West. During this time, Iranians have successfully contributed to the economy and diversity of their adopted home.The great city of Toronto, in particular, does not only hold the largest Iranian community in North America after Los Angeles, but it also embraces and recognizes Iranâ€™s rich and remarkable cultural history that so many of us cherish every day. With the support of the Harbourfront Centre and thousands of dedicated volunteers, this summer we will make history. In the span of four days, over 150 Iranian artists from all areas of the arts will display, present, and perform their talents for over thousands festivalgoers. These numbers make Tirgan the largest Iranian festival to date. It is a great pleasure to have been asked to be involved with Tirgan, a festival devoted to preserving and celebrating thousands years of culture. I love Iran. It is my country of birth. This great land and its rich history shaped who I am today. I love Canada. It is my home, and I have gained countless opportunities living here. Working with Tirgan festival has helped me to understand that the best way to celebrate the diversity of my Canadian culture is to recognize and appreciate the diversity that exists within my native country of Iran. Your presence at Tirgan festival shows your love and respect for the Iranian culture. As a token of our appreciation, we have created Tirgan Magazine.This publication will provide you with a glimpse into the minds and hearts of some of the most distinguished and celebrated Iranian artists of our time. Maryam Nayeb-Yazdi Editor-in-Chief
July 2008 TIRGAN
On behalf of the Government of Ontario, I am delighted to extend warm greetings to everyone attending and participating in Celebrating Tirgan, hosted by the Iranian Canadian Centre for Art and Culture (ICCAC). This year’s festival marks Tirgan, an ancient Iranian celebration observed in the month of July.Today, the festival of Tirgan is held as a reminder of the remarkable breadth of cultures that exist within Iran.The theme of this year’s festival, exploring diversity, pays homage to the religious and cultural multiplicity of that country. Like you, my colleagues and I embrace the diversity that breathes life into our great province — diversity that is the foundation of our success. For four days, international and local artists of Iranian descent will share their rich heritage through music, dance, theatre, cinema, literature, visual art and gastronomic delights. This special event is not only a true reflection of the vibrancy of the Iranian community, but also an ideal opportunity to reflect on the importance of the Iranian Canadian community’s vital contributions to our province — and helps us appreciate anew the spirit of unity in diversity that has shaped our society. I would like to extend my appreciation to the artists who have travelled great distances to participate in this exciting event, and to all those who have been instrumental in ensuring its success, including the hard-working members of the ICCAC, Harbourfront staff, and the many generous sponsors. Please accept my sincere best wishes for an inspiring celebration of Tirgan.
Dalton McGuinty Premier of Ontario
July 2008 TIRGAN
It is my pleasure to extend a warm welcome to everyone attending the celebrating Tirgan festival, proudly presented by the Iranian Canadian Centre for Art and Culture. Through this four-day commemoration of Tirgan, thousands of people will share and experience Iranian-Canadian arts and culture. Bringing together music, art, entertainment and food that reflect Iran is a wonderful way to showcase the vibrant culture and tradition of people of Iranian descent, strengthen community and cultural bonds and celebrate diversity in Ontario. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the organizers and volunteers, as well as the many artists and performers who are involved with this important festival, for their hard work and dedication to promoting awareness and understanding of Iranian arts and cultural heritage in our province. On behalf of Ontarioâ€™s Ministry of Culture, all the best for an enjoyable celebration.
Aileen Carroll Minister of Culture
As the first elected Iranian-Canadian to the provincial parliament of Ontario, it is with great pleasure that I extend my warmest welcome and greetings to everyone attending the Tirgan Festival, which has been so proudly organized and presented by the Iranian Canadian Centre for the Arts and Culture. In Ontario, we are fortunate to be home to so many cultural organizations that give our province its strength and vitality. The Tirgan Festival is an outstanding example that showcases the many quality cultural performances that enrich the unique Ontario cultural mosaic.
Reza Moridi MPP, Richmond Hill
July 2008 TIRGAN
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Harbourfront Centre Staff William J.S. Boyle Melanie Fernandez Kerri MacDonald Dalton Higgins Dennis Passley Meena Abotossaway Joy Bullen Geoff Bouckley Patrick Mcaulay Robyn Chan-Kent Bruce Hutchinson Averill Maroun Brian Francis Nadia Greenidge Fred Farahani Asem Chiragh Shane Gerard Cary Mignault Althea Linton Teresa McKenna Joe DiClemente David Goldberg Sabine Feldmyer Laura Lofaro Pamela Sequeira Matthew DeWaal Davey Perry Debbie Findlay Shauna Seabrook Alicia Rose Genevieve Peng Dorothy Szczurek Helder Melo David Drake Craig Weekes Chris Hodgeson Brian Skol Sandra Whiting Lauren Williamson Jennifer Hart
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Chief Executive Officer Director, Community and Education Programmes Artistic Associate and Festival Lead Artistic Associate Music Music Assistant Festival Programming Assistant Summe r Festival Project Coordinator Production Coordinator Visual Arts Coordinator Transportation Coordinator Director, Marketing & Media Relations Manager, Promotions Marketing, Senior Writer Marketing,Writer Marketing, Project Coordinator Marketing Coordinator Media Relations, Lead Publicist Media Relations, Publicist Media Relations, Publicist Media Relations Assistant Director, Design Communications Graphic Designer Graphic Designer Graphic Designer Graphic Designer Web Administrator Web Assistant Director, Sponsorship and Development Director Development Development Associate, Sponsor Relations Volunteer Coordinator Assistant Volunteer Coordinator Director, Site Operations &Services Site Services Manager Marine &Property Coordinator Events Security Coordinator Director, Facilities Vendor Coordinator Administrative Assistant,Vendors Administrative Coordinator
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Contents EDITOR-IN-CHIEF ART DIRECTOR
Maryam Nayeb-Yazdi Katayoon Toufighi
ASSOCIATE DESIGNER Hediyeh Layegh ILLUSTRATOR WRITERS-AT-LARGE
Dr. Maria Sabaye Moghaddam, Dr. Farya Shaker, Dr. Hamid Keshmir-Shekan, Hamid Rezaeiyazdi, Kiana Toufighi, Mehrafarin Hosseini Donya Ziaee, Zahra Parhizgari, Yota Apostolakos, Omid Khajeh Mahabadi, Leyla Mostafavi, Shadi Nasseri, Nazli Eisazadeh Aref Mohammady, Setareh Delzendeh, Firoozeh Athari, Reza Moghaddas Dr. Maria Sabaye Moghaddam, Dr. Farya Shaker, Dr. Alidad Amafinezam, Omid Khajeh Mahabadi
Hedy Anvari, Maryam Eskandari, Omid Khajeh Mahabadi, Bahram Masoudian, Mehdi Sagharchi, Shahrzad Dehsarvi
Bobak Etminani, Parisa Ghavami, Kiumars Rezvanifar, Omid Khajeh Mahabadi, Noushin Nabavi, Mehdi Sagharchi, Elham Nasseri, Mandana Mastan, Roozbeh Rokni, Shahrokh Saeedi, Amir Korour, Parisa Ghavami
CEO of Tirgan Festival Marketing Director Volunteer Coordinator
Shahrzad T. Koraim
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Mehrdad Ariannejad Nima Ahmadi Shahrzad Shahriari
11 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Story of Arash Kamangir 12 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tirgan: Creating Community through the Arts 14 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Décor at Tirgan 15 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Taste of Iran 16 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Children’s Activities 18 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Legend in Music: Mohammad Reza Lotfi 19 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Three’s Not a Crowd: Shoari Trio 20 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Music Artists’ Profiles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dancing the Past, Exploring the Present: 24 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam 26 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Anna Djanbazian: An Interview 28 . . . . . . . . . . . . . From Bushehr, with Love: Saeid Shanbehzadeh 29 . . . . . . . Celebrating Traditional Dance in the West: Sashar Zarif 30 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Soheil Parsa and Absurdist Passions 32 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Niloofar Beyzaie 33 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bringing Magic to the Stage: Atila Pesyani 34 . . . . . . Reflections on the Memories and Dreams of a Nation 36 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jafar Vali- The Face of Iranian Theater 38 . . . . . . Shahrzad in Exile – An Interview with Mahshid Amirshahy 40 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Literature Artists’ Profiles 42 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Development of Visual Arts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . within the Iranian Culture 44 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aydin Aghdashloo-An Interview 46 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Colours of Emotion: Gholamhossein Nami 48 . . . . . . . . . . . Drawing Inspiration from Within: Farideh Lashai 49 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Visual Arts Artists’ Profiles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Iranian Cinema: 54 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A Glance at the Past and into the Present 55 . . . . . . . . The Woman Behind the Film: Rakhshan Bani-Etemad 56 . . . . . . . . . . . . Making Films for the Love of It: Asghar Farhadi 57 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . An Icon in Film: Abbas Kiarostami 58 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cinema Artists’ Profiles 63 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Festival Schedule of Events
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The Legend of Arash Kamangir TRANSLATED BY: OMID KHAJEH MAHABADI
here were years of war and hostility between Iran and Turan. Following continuous battles in the southern shores of the Caspian Sea, the two sides decided to make a peace agreement. To set the border between the two countries, Iranians had to shoot an arrow toward the East; wherever the arrow landed would determine the new border and no one should ever cross it. Meanwhile, Sepandarmaz, the guardian angel protecting the Earth, appeared and made a command for a bow and an arrow.They called for Arash Kamangir, the strongest and swiftest archer in Iran. The angel requested for Arash to take the bow and shoot the arrow as far as it can go. Arash knew that the fate of his country was in his powerful hands and that he must use all his strength to end the long dispute between the two lands. He took off his shirt, showed his body to the king and the army, and exclaimed,â€œLook, I am healthy, but I know once I release this arrow
from the bow, all my strength will leave my body, and I will sacrifice myself for Iran.â€? He then climbed to the summit of Mount Damavand, the highest mountain in Iran, shot the arrow with his God-given power, and almost suddenly, his lifeless body dropped to the ground. With the order of the merciful God to the Angel of Wind, the arrow was protected; it travelled over the mountains, valleys, and desserts from dawn to noon. At noon, around the banks of the Oxus River, it landed on the enormous trunk of a walnut tree. It was at the location of the great walnut tree that the boundary between Iran and Turan was determined. Iranians celebrate this day in the memory of Arash and his heroic act to save the land of his country. It is said that the Tirgan festival that has been popular among ancient Iranians for centuries originated from the mystical tale of Arash Kamangir and his great arrow. T
The story of Arash Farsi version is from the book: Old Iranian Myths and Legends (Dastanha-ye Iran-e bastan). Author: Ehsan Yarshater (1957, 1958, 1964).
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Tirgan: Creating Community through the Arts WRITTEN BY: DONYA ZIAEE AND SIMA SAHAR ZEREHI
or years we have been coming to the Harbourfront Centre to take part in the cultural and artistic celebrations of other more established community groups in Canada. Masalah! Mehndi! Masti! introduced us to the diverse South Asian communities in this country.We learned about Chinese-Canadians through the Dim Sum festival, and we danced and sang along with the Caribbean communities through the Island Soul festival. Finally, after years on the sidelines, Iranian-Canadians have a summer festival of our own. In March 2006, Under the Azure Dome, our diverse community’s first arts and cultural festival at the Harbourfront Centre, attracted an unprecedented number of over 25,000 visitors from Canada as well as overseas. This year’s Tirgan festival marks a new cultural landmark for Iranian-Canadians, and symbolizes our community’s growth and establishment in our new adopted home.
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The image of Iran has been tainted.The Iran that we see flashing on our television screens, smeared in newspaper headlines, and censured on radio airwaves is a country overrun with irrational zealots, hungering for nuclear power and political domination. Such narratives portray the Iranian populace as a voiceless, silent mass, incapable of rising above the tides of repression and censorship. Regrettably, these representations of Iran as the “axis of evil” reverberate beyond news clippings and have been infused into popular culture and the arts. Even a cursory glance at the Tirgan festival program shows that rumours of the demise of Iranian arts and culture have been greatly exaggerated. Iranian visual artists, filmmakers, writers, musicians, dancers, and playwrights continue to produce innovative works inside and outside of our country of origin. Some of the artists joining the festival from Iran include pioneering filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, legendary classical musician Mohammad
Photo by: Amir Korour
This year’s Tirgan festival marks a new cultural landmark for Iranian-Canadians, and symbolizes our community’s growth and establishment in our new adopted home.
Photos by: Khahrokh Saeedi
Reza Lotfi, and critically acclaimed filmmaker Rakhshan Banietemad. “Iran behind the veil” has been a much over-used analogy in reference to the situation of the women of the country. Iranian women everywhere have been subjectified as merely second-class citizens and submissive victims.The presence of artists such as choreographer and artistic director Anna Djanbazian, playwright and director Niloofar Beyzaie, and visual artist Shamsi Shahrokhi serves as a testament to the artistic achievements and capabilities of Iranian women. The notion of Iran as a monolithic Farsi-speaking and Islamic region is another predominant misrepresentation of the country. Oftentimes, the various ethno-linguistic groups that make up the rich tapestry of the Iranian landscape are undermined or completely neglected. One of the hallmarks of Tirgan festival is its attention to cultural diversity in Iran.The Azari, Kurdish and Guilaki dialects are featured in the vocal performance of the talented soprano singer and composer Darya Dadvar.World class performer, Saeid Shanbehzadeh, showcases the traditional dance and music of Southern Iran. In addition, Sashar Zarif, a household name to Toronto dance-lovers, exhibits various traditional Iranian and Central- Asian dances. The efforts toward inclusiveness and diversity at Tirgan festival at-
test to the growth and maturity of the Iranian community.As recent statistics have shown , the Iranian Diasporic population in Canada is booming, with a notable majority of newcomers being young Iranians between the ages of 25 and 44. Iranians are a highly educated community with over 37 percent possessing post-secondary degrees, predominantly in the fields of engineering and applied sciences. As the population growth and makeup of our multifaceted community indicate, Iranian-Canadians are without a doubt a dynamic group with a high potential for success. However, as our communities begin to take root in their new adopted home, we need to be ever more conscious of the spaces we occupy and the ways in which we present ourselves. While Canada has been celebrated as a land of diversity, immigrants face ongoing barriers to integration.As such, there continues to be a need for immigrant communities to establish a more pronounced voice and identity to advocate on our own behalf. As a festival of arts and culture, Tirgan festival is a decided step toward our long-term goals of an engaged and unified Iranian community. We hope that the symbol of Tirgan points us toward further political and social engagements. T July 2008 TIRGAN
Photos by: Reza Moghaddas
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t Tirgan festival, different styles of Iran's contemporary arts such as music, theatre, film, literature, visual arts, and dance will be displayed at the Harbourfront Centre.To add to the ambience of the festival, combinations of Persian colours and motifs have been used. Festival goers will enjoy watching The Harbourfront Centre’s modern architecture transform to create a look that closely represents décor found in establishments in present Iran. In Iran, even a glance at the scenery and setting will leave one in a state of wonder.The particular design of bazaars, communal bathhouses, castles, schools, bridges, religious sites, Zoroastrian temples, mosques, and towers correspond to the background, culture, and history of that region. Mud walls that line the section ofYazd with its wind wards and water basements add mystery to the clear blue skies of the deserts.The delicate and stunning ceramic work in Esfehan's Shailh Lotf Allah 14
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mosque alongside Chehel Sotoon and Poleh Khaju are brilliantly and carefully created, and the majesty and power of the Hakhamaneshian has been contained for centuries in the Persepolis. Today in Iran, the ancient places are used in many different ways.The famous communal bathhouses for example are decorated with old bronze and clay pottery.Today,these bathhouses have been turned into local teahouses.The benches and seats draped with decorative rugs are set around a fountain, and the teahouses are decorated with curtains painted with visuals from tales told by the story teller. The story telling, also referred to as Naghali,is performed in the traditional setting of a teahouse.The story teller shares tales and myths of glorious heroes from Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh. Many great sculptures and designs will be seen throughout the four days at Tirgan Festival. Enjoy the magnificent colours and images that will be available for your seeing pleasure. T
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ranians have very diverse opinions on social, cultural, and political issues, but their love for Iranian food is unanimous.The mouth-watering tastes that are found in many of the carefully-flavoured dishes have been perfected throughout the ages. In fact, some major food items such as certain stews, kebobs, breads, fruits, and nuts can be traced back to the early 13th century. Preparations of the more popular meals demand patience as well as skills that need to be practiced and learned over years of cooking. Generally, individuals who enjoy Iranian cuisine consider it a form of art and take a great deal of pride in it. Attention to careful detail in both taste and presentation is what makes the food unique. Since Iran is home to diverse climates and cultures, the choice of ingredients and spices vary according to the season and geographical location. For instance, while white fish is commonly found in cuisine from the north, lamb and chicken are more popular in the central regions. At Tirgan festival, "Taste of Iran" features a wide range of cuisines that consist of regional food and drinks presented by a number of successful Iranian restaurants in Toronto.
RECIPES TO TRY AT HOME: Mast-o-Khiar (yogurt and cucumbers): Mainly served on the side of a main dish or in the place of a salad. Ingredients: 1 ½ cups of yogurt 1 cucumber 1 tbsp. fresh dill or 1 tsp. of dried dill Salt and pepper Instructions: Pour the yogurt in a medium-sized bowl. Peel and chop the cucumber into fine pieces and add to the bowl. Add the dill, salt, and pepper and mix well with a spoon. Cool the dish in the fridge for half an hour before serving. Khoreshte Gheimeh (yellow split pea stew): An easy-to-make popular Iranian dish served in many Iranian households. Instructions: 1 lb. lamb or beef cut into 1" cubes 4 tbsp. shortening 4 medium potatoes chop into small, thin pieces like french-fries
1 large onion finely chopped ¼ cup yellow split peas 1 tbsp. tomato paste 4 whole dried limes (lime juice can be used as a substitute) ¼ tsp. turmeric ½ tsp. cinnamon ¼ tsp. nutmeg Salt and pepper to taste 2 ½ cups water Instructions: Fry the meat and onions in pot over medium heat until onions are slightly golden. Add turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper to the pot and fry for another two minutes. Add water, tomato paste, yellow split peas, and limes to the pot and cook on medium-low heat for approximately 45 minutes, stirring often.While the ingredients are cooking, fry the thinly chopped potatoes in a pan with some shortening until goldenbrown. Once the meat and yellow split peas are tender, remove from heat. Pour the stew in a dish, removing the dried limes as they are only added for flavour and are not meant to be eaten. Add french-fries over the stew and serve with basmati rice. T
Thank-you to: Omid Khajeh Mahabadi & Dr. Maria Sabaye Moghaddam July 2008 TIRGAN
irgan festival is proud to present an entertaining and educational venue for children to explore their imagination and bring out the little artist within! Between Saturday June 19th from 1:00pm to 7:00pm and Sunday June 20 from 1:00pm to 6:00pm, children 4-14 years of age can enjoy the exciting programs that will be presented, including: storytelling, caricature, and music workshops, free drawing stations, and face painting. STORYTELLING WORKSHOP will be conducted by several individuals in both Farsi and English. The workshop will incorporate visual drawings that accompany the story of Arash Kamangir and Mahpishooni.The storytelling workshop will be partially conducted by Sharhzad T. Koraim, a graduate of childrenâ€™s theatre and literature. Other professionals involved in the story telling workshop will include Sahar Talebizadeh and Parisa Ghavami. Miss Talebizadeh is a doctoral student in the area of Clinical Psychology and also functions as a psycho-educational consultant. Parisa Ghavami is a graduate in English
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Literature and Education and has eight years of teaching experience with the Toronto District School Board.Also, renowned author Ariel Balevi will hold a storytelling performance in English and Vida Ghahremani will perform a puppet show. CARICATURE WORKSHOP will be conducted by Maryam Afshar, an artist with over 15 years of experience in drawing and photography. Maryam will provide the children with 15 minutes of instructions on drawing various Persepolis characters as well as characters from the story of Arash Kamangir.The workshop will familiarize the children with the festivalâ€™s theme of diversity and provide them with a brief piece of Iranian history. MUSIC WORKSHOP will be conducted by Sophia Khalafi, a piano teacher who also works with small children through ORFF pedagogy. The workshop aims to entertain and familiarize children with pitched and non-pitched instruments and percussions.The children will also receive 20 minutes of instruction on the instruments, followed by a brief opportunity to practice their newfound skills. T
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A Legend in Music WRITTEN BY: REZA MOGHADDAS TRANSLATED BY: BAHRAM MASOUDIAN
or half a century, Mohammad Reza Lotfi has devoted his life to music not for the fame but for the love he feels for the art. Every note he plays exudes an invigorating energy that is felt by his audience. His unassuming personality is what makes Mohammad Reza Lotfi stand out as one of the greatest artists of our time. In his home country of Iran, he is one of the all-time most respected and admired musicians. Mohammad Reza Lotfi was born in the year 1945 in the city of Gorgan, Iran. He studied at Honarestane Moosighi, learning music from Ali Akbar Shahnazi, and Habib Allah Salehi. Later, he went on to study at Daneshkadeye Moosighi. At this point he studied with other great masters like Ali Broomand and Saeed Hormozi. In 1974, after establishing himself as a musical artist and gaining the respect of his colleagues, Mohammad Reza Lotfi performed at the Shiraz Festival (Iran) a piece that is considered to be one of the most magnificent of its kind in Iranian musical history. At the festival, Lotfi performed with Nasser Farhangfar and Mohammad Reza Shajarian.Today, this particular performance is widely talked about and praised. Shortly after, Lotfi formed the famous Sheyda Ensemble and a style of music called Chavosh. The formation of
Sheyda Ensemble and the music of Chavosh are two important milestones in recent music history. In 1985, Lotfi moved to America and lived there for 20 years before returning to Iran. During the 20 years absence from Iran, Lotfi performed many concerts around the world.Today, Lotfi works as a musical teacher at a school named Maktab Khaneh of Mirza Abdollah in Iran.The idea that the student must learn directly from the master is what shapes the teaching style of Mohammad Reza Lotfi. He takes all that he has learned throughout his years and bestows this knowledge on his students. Lotfi spends one-on-one time with his students in order to make sure that all elements of music are learned, creating successful results. Possessing a strong sense of cultural identity, Mohammad Reza Lotfi emphasizes the fact he is a proud Iranian. He has intertwined aspects of culture with music,which in turn creates timeless pieces in all his works. Even though Iranian music has seen many changes in the past 50 years, Mohammad Reza Lotfiâ€™s music shines whether part of an orchestra or as a solo piece. He is able to play tar and setar and is without a doubt one of the few musicians who can play a solo piece for two consecutive hours. T
On Thursday July 17, 2008, Mohammad Reza Lotfi and members of Sheyda Ensemble will be playing a 9:00pm ticketed event on the Sirius Stage, Harbourfront Centre. 18
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Shoari Trio brings the original meaning of the term folk music to traditional Iranian music.
Three’s Not a Crowd WRITTEN BY: NAZLI EISAZADEH riginating in Iran and now living in Toronto, Shoari Trio is an elegant ensemble renowned for their excellence.Their combination of ambition, talent, and harmonic energy brings to life a sound that is creative and truly unique. Masoud Shoari started playing santur at the age of 13, and later the setar and the tar. For the past ten years, Shoari has been teaching setar and theory of traditional Persian music at Tehran’s Azad University, Hamsaz Musical Centre, among other public and private establishments. He has performed as a soloist and in ensembles of Hossein Alizadeh and Shahram Nazeri. Masoud Shoari now works with a talented core
of musicians that have connected over the years to bring creative music forward. They are known as Shoari Trio and they have performed in Iran and abroad, sharing their gift with others. Masoud Shoari, Hossein Behroozinia, and Trichy Sankaran, the three highly acclaimed musicians that make up the trio, have compiled some of the finest tracks and played their classical Persian folk music at a variety of venues. Shoari Trio brings the original meaning of the term folk music to traditional Iranian music. On Friday July 19, 2008 at the Tirgan festival, Shoari Trio will be playing a live performance at 9:30 pm on the Sirius Stage Harbourfront Centre. T July 2008 TIRGAN
er voice mesmerizes. Her performances inspire. Darya Dadvar is arguably the first Iranian soprano soloist.Trained in baroque style, Darya has also performed the traditional music of Iran, folk music, as well as melodies in the modern style; thus creating her own unique style fusing opera and traditional Persian music, which she has performed in languages ranging from English, French, German, and Italian to local dialects of Iran such as Azeri and Kurdi. Darya Dadvar was born and raised in Iran but has lived in France since 1991 during which she obtained a Diplome d’Etude Musical (Gold Medal), trained professionally at the Conservatory of Toulouse, and received a Master of Arts Degree from Ecole des Beaux Arts de Toulouse. Darya has been invited for performances in Canada, France, England, Germany, Sweden, the United States, and Iran where she performed as Tahmineh in Loris Tjeknavorian’s rendition of firdowsi’s “Rostam and Sohrab” with the Armenian Symphony Orchestra. T
Darya Dadvar WRITTEN BY: HAMID REZAEIYAZDI
Behna Ensemble WRITTEN BY: HAMID REZAEIYAZDI ne of the pioneers of the emerging fusion style in Iran, Behna Ensemble is a band that consists of a group of talented musicians known for their blending of traditional Iranian instruments with elements of jazz and electronic music. The band boasts an array of young talents: Ramin Behna, Babak Riahipour, Kasra Ebrahimi, Behrang Baghaei, and Alireza Rahiminejad. Ramin Behna, the ensemble founder, studied music at Iran Azad University and first made a name in 1999 by winning the Golden
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Sun at the Mehr Festival for Best New Age, Electronic and Fusion in thirty years. Among his other achievements are over forty soundtracks and scores for feature films, television series, and documentaries. Ramin Behna has released seven albums including “Avizheh,” “Ziba Zi,”“Dar’e Ghali,”“Didgah (Vision),” and “Me and My Giant Friend.” Band member Babak Riahipour has performed in world tours alongside great Persian artists such as Googoosh, Mohammad Noori, Babak Amini, Kaven, and Koorosh Yaghmaei. T
Chakavak Ensemble was established by their front man Reza Manbachi in 1998. After Reza immigrated to Canada in 2004, the band established themselves and their evolving sound in their new home. Chakavak Ensemble consists of a talented group of artists who display an ambition to spread the sounds of Persian music to large audiences. After numerous concert performances in Iran and Canada,Chakavak Ensemble can also add the role of humanitarian to their impressive list of accomplishments.The group performed at a sold-out charity event where all the profits from ticket sales went to the Bam Art Garden for the people who were heavily affected by the disastrous earthquake in Iran. On Sunday July 20, 2008 at the Tirgan festival, Chakavak Ensemble will be playing a live performance at 4:30 pm at the Lakeside Terrace, Harbourfront Centre.
Shiraz Ensemble Based in Canada,Shiraz Ensemble consists of a talented group of artists who display a passion for classical Persian music. With their strong musical training background and their impressive ability to string various instruments together in one composition, Shiraz Ensemble has successfully created masterful contemporary and classical pieces that are highly praised and respected.Inspired by their own passion and continuous innovation, Shiraz Ensemble continues to create timeless music that is enjoyed by a diverse group of people. Shiraz Ensemble includes members Nazila Eftekhari, Shahin Fayaz, Saeed Kamjoo, Pedram Khavarzamini, and Araz Salek. On Saturday July 19, 2008 at the Tirgan festival, Shiraz Ensemble will be playing a live performance at 5:30 pm at the Lakeside Terrace, Harbourfront Centre.
Baarbad Music Group Lian Ensemble Lian Ensemble has shaken up the Western world with their uniquely electrifying sound. Critics including the Los Angeles Times have praised the groupâ€™s impressive ability to intertwine aspects of traditional Persian musical sounds with postmodern jazz. Lian Ensemble continues each day to evolve their sound by breaking stylistic boundaries, putting them in a category of their own. On Saturday July 19, 2008 at the Tirgan festival, Lian Ensemble will be playing a live performance at 9:30 pm on the Sirius Stage, Harbourfront Centre.
Baarbad Music Group,founded by Mehdi Rezania,exploded on the music scene in 2004. Since then, the group has established themselves as a non-profit organization,aiming to promote the culture of traditional Persian music. Baarbad Music Group is best known for their ambition to hone their musical craft and as a result, reach their sound to new levels. On Fenruary 16, 2008, the Toronto Centre for the Arts had the opportunity to listen to Kurdish folkloric music for the first time, thanks to a performance from Baarbad Music Group. On Sunday July 20, 2008 at theTirgan festival, Baarbad Music Group will be playing a live performance at 2:30 pm on theToronto Star Stage, Harbourfront Centre. T July 2008 TIRGAN
Beat Syndrome Hamed Safi and Navid Mehr make up Beat Syndrome, an electronic group who thrill their audience and display a true passion for their art. In 2007, Beat Syndrome released their first album Sting Me and received positive reviews from critics. Their fan-base began to grow significantly and it wasn’t long after that DJs and producers like Chris Fortier, Thee-o, Damon G, Zimbardo, Kenny Wee, Flash Brothers, Yves Eaux, and Red & Blue caught on to their work. They have collaborated with talent including Cold Trap, Jk47, Espen & Elusive, Ladies on Mars, and Syntax Error. The members of Beat Syndrome explain that their music “provides a means of expressing emotions and concepts that are often too deep or profound to be expressed with words.” Through their production, Hamed and Navid have been able to reach out to a new set of audience who take pleasure in the vocalization of rhythm over verbal language.
Iranian National Choir Founded in 2007 by Iranian-Canadian students and music lovers, the Iranian National Choir is made up of a group of highly talented individuals who have a passion for music. Kamal Taravati, director of the choir, has an extensive amount of experience in teaching, writing, and conducting music. In the short while the group has been together, they have displayed a great amount of ambition and talent that is evident in their performances. The Iranian National Choir aims to promote Iranian music in Canada by performing various concerts across Toronto. Their third major performance was held on April 19, 2008 and commemorated the musical work of the late Iranian folk artist, Ahmad Ashourpour. On Sunday July 20, 2008 at the Tirgan festival, the Iranian National Choir will be performing live at 6:00 pm on Sirius Stage, Harbourfront Centre. 22
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Soul Nidus WRITTEN BY: LEYLA MOSTAFAVI Known for their captivating on stage performance, Soul Nidus is creating quite a buzz in the Toronto music scene. Since the release of their first album, Birdless Wings and the latest Into Pieces, the band has performed around the world. The group consists of three musicians: Ehsan Ashrafi, Salman Ashrafi, and Nick Sansalone. Ehsan Ashrafi, who founded the group in 1999, composes lyrics and performs loud and enigmatic vocals. With his entrancing tones, guitarist Salman Ashrafi has all the charms of a rock musician. Nick Sansalone, the newest member of the group, brings a noticeable edge to the band with his boisterous drum lines. The name of the band reflects the group’s cross-genre fusion and well thought-out songs. Soul Nidus is meant to express the duality of human existence. On Saturday July 19, 2008 at the Tirgan festival, Soul Nidus will be performing live at 11:00 pm at the Brigantine Room, Harbourfront Centre.
Technofunk Techno is back with a vengeance! Producers Amir Ebrahimnia, DJ Shine, and Simon Rojas formed the group Technofunk in 2005. Technofunk gained a positive reputation in the electronic music scene due to their ability to blend funky bass lines and beautifullysounding chord stabs with techno beats.With constant technological advancements,Technofunk sees no limits to their musical creativity. Technofunk cites Icelandic singer Bjork’s recent live performance
as one of their greatest inspirations. Recently the band has unveiled their “reactable,” which is a translucent glass table, used in dark rooms that appears as a backlit display.With their new “toy,”Technofunk can control various sound engines and elements. On Friday July 18, 2008 at the Tirgan festival,Technofunk will be performing live at 11:00 pm at the Brigantine Room, Harbourfront Centre. T
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Dancing the Past, Exploring the Present WRITTEN BY: DR. MARIA SABAYE MOGHADDAM
Glancing at a page of Shahrokh’s dreamlike creation “Omar Khayam,” strolling through any pavilion in his “Seven Pavillions of Love,” one notices dance elements from around the world, skillfully put together to create a piece of work that is very much Iranian. His choreographies, usually based on Persian classical music, bring Persian myths, poetry, and dance together to create an atmosphere of magical quality. Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam is a Paris-based dancer, choreographer, actor, and director. He is the founder and artistic director of Nakissa Dance Company whose performances have graced the stages of Europe, USA, and Canada over the last decade. Shahrokh’s mixed background and training in dance and theatre have earned him
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Tirgan will host the debut performance of ‘Aurash,’ Moshkin Ghalam’s latest creation in dance-mythology.
a unique style by creating a fusion of different kinds of dances. Tirgan will host the debut performance of “Aurash,” Moshkin Ghalam’s latest creation in dance-mythology. His past experience in this area include “Seven Pavilions of Love,”“Sohrab and Gordafarid,” and “Khusrow and Shirin.” In his dance-mythologies, Shahrokh is a story-teller, translating the lines from thousands of years ago into movements familiar to today’s audiences. His extensive training in world dances, along with his openness, enables him to borrow all that he feels necessary from other cultures, add to it, and re-invent it in new contexts. “Aurash” is an ancient Persian myth about affirming borders as a means of holding on to who we are while expanding and sharing. This is very close to Moshkin Ghalam’s real life experience as he came
to realize the importance of his roots, heritage, and being Iranian after leaving Iran. He explains,“It happened over the course of my six-year collaboration with Ariane Mnouchkine, who reminded us that every single one of us, who came from all over the world, had something to contribute to this magical world of theatre.There I learned to hold on to who I was; not to throw away half of my being… I turned to our myths, our legends, our great epic “Shahnameh” and tried to learn as much as I could…” This finding must have resonated very deeply in his soul as it comes up repeatedly in all his works. Each piece bears his signature which can be summarized not in one movement or a phrase but in his implied emphasis on the importance of holding on to who we are and sharing a dance, a story, a culture. T July 2008 TIRGAN
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Anna Djanbazian: An Interview INTERVIEW BY: DR. MARIA SABAYE MOGHADDAM TRANSLATED BY: MARYAM ESKANDARI
t was her father’s influence that introduced her to the world of dance, but Anna Djanbazian’s talent is what took her to the status of accomplished and world-renowned choreographer. She is the Artistic Director of the Los Angeles-based Djanbazian Dance Company where a wide variety of dance genres are taught to aspiring dancers. Read on as Tirgan Magazine interviews Anna Djanbazian and discovers her early years in Iran and finds out more about her current professional career.
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One should have the right to be free, to fly, to observe new works of art, to be able to make innovative works for performing.
The following interview has been translated from Farsi to English
TIRGAN MAGAZINE: When and where did you start your dance training? ANNA DJANBAZIAN: My first dance steps were taken under my father’s supervision. Our office, school, and home were all in one place. Instead of playing, I would watch my father’s dance classes. Later, I attended my father’s classes as a trainee. I can say that 40% of what I learned and still practice today is from those early days. TM: Describe the dance styles that you were working on? AD: My main focus was on ballet, but I was also teaching folkloric dances. Ballet is the base for dancing, because if you learn it, then you can dance any style. I have also studied modern dance at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). What I learned there, I teach now to my own students. TM: Describe leaving Iran and restarting your activities abroad. AD: In Iran,I had established my place,my office,and my own school.In the U.S., it took me about a year until I could get the work permission and a place to work, but I was teaching at two different schools. In 1988, I established my own school, and started teaching there. By 1992, I had trained a group, which later became the Djanbazian Dance Company. Since then I have managed this group of professional dancers in different programs and performances.
TM: What would be your artistic life, if you had stayed in Iran? AD: I would not be able to go abroad and obtain information as easy as I do know. My work would be limited to teaching within a specific frame.Art demands more than this. One should have the right to be free, to fly, to observe new works of art, to be able to make innovative works for performing. TM: Where do the movements that you use in your dances come from? AD: The movements of any dance really depend on the nature, the meaning and the roots of the dance. As an example, the choreography that I have made for Komitas, the genius Armenian musician, is classical in nature and has folkloric roots. The choreography that I have made for Rumi is Iranian. For this work, I have used Iranian music. I have also taken advantage of the ritual movements that are rooted in some of our traditional ceremonies and have transformed them with modern movements. I always use the particular features and the specific style of the text as my base. TM: Tell us about your upcoming projects. AD: I would like to start a work called,“The Aroma of Pomegranate.” I am so excited about it that whenever I think about it, my heart wants to come out of my body. It is a modern theatrical work and the story has an Armenian sense. Most probably, it will be ready for 2009. T
In Tirgan, Djanbazian Dance Company will present diverse folkloric dances from both Iran and countries with deep and old cultural ties with Iran. Ms. Djanbazian will also hold dance workshops to encourage awareness and education in dance. July 2008 TIRGAN
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Through Bushehri music and dance, I want to speak to the world, tell them stories from the lives, rituals, joys and sorrows of Bushehris.
From Bushehr, with Love WRITTEN BY: DR. MARIA SABAYE MOGHADDAM
wirling, leaping, and prancing on the stage, this tall, dark, and definitely handsome musician, singer, and dancer has bedazzled audiences all over the world. Saeid Shanbehzadeh has a unique relationship with his audience: he invigorates them, rejuvenates them, and brings them closer together to the music and dance that is so close to his heart. He is one of the few people in the world who has specialized in music and dance of Bushehr, a province in the south of Iran. His commitment to introducing his native music and dance stems from his love for humanity and the urge to call on the inhabitants of the world to celebrate their shared values. Shanbehzadeh explains, “Through Bushehri music and dance, I want to speak to the world, tell them stories from the lives, rituals, joys and sorrows of Bushehris. How they live, how they mourn, how they cure their ailments, and how they rejoice.This will bring us closer in our common humanity.” Shanbehzadeh Ensemble is the first Iranian band to perform in WOMAX 2007 in Spain.This appearance was well-received and won the group many invitations for performance in various countries in 28
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Europe. They have had numerous performances in Europe, USA, Australia, New Zealand, and Iran, collaborating with great choreographers such as Jose Montalvo and Dominique Hervieu.The result of their collaboration was among the top ten best dances of the world in European Dance Festival in Lyon in 2002. In most of his performances, Saeid Shanbehzadeh plays traditional instruments of Bushehri music such as ney anban and ney jofti, while singing and dancing to tunes from southern Iran. In addition to being an accomplished musician, composer, and dancer, Saeid Shanbehzadeh has performed a great deal of research and taught music in various educational institutions including University of Toronto. In Tirgan, Shanbehzadeh will have two performances. In the first one he will be accompanied by French musicians, and the program blends French jazz with tunes from the south of Iran. In the second performance, traditional music and dance of Bushehr is presented by Shanbehzadeh Ensemble. T
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Celebrating Traditional Dance in the West WRITTEN BY: HAMID REZAEIYAZDI
ashar Zarif is an internationally acclaimed dance artist whose art is a representation of migration and displacement which culminates in the hybridity of peoples and cultures. Born to an immigrant family in Iran, Sashar started life with a double identity of Iranian-Azerbaijani. Later in his life, traveling through India, Turkey, and several other countries, he finally settled in Canada, where he has been pursuing his artistic career professionally. Carrying within him a multiplicity of languages, cultures, and migrations, Sashar creates a unique form of art through his dance which communicates the histories and plights of vast regions of the world, stretching from Asia to the West. His dance comprises of elements of Persian,Turkish, Uzebek,Tajik, Georgian, Chechen,Afghan, Lezginka, Flamenco, and Bharatanatyam elements. Sashar Zarif studied performing arts at the Azerbaijan Conservatory
of Music and Dance, and for his excellence he was given the honorary title of “Artist of the People of Azerbaijan.” In Canada, he pursued his academic training with a Bachelor of Arts degree in performing arts, a Master of Arts degree in dance, and a Doctorate in ethnomusicology fromYork University.Aside from founding the Sashar Zarif Dance Theatre which has released several productions, Sashar has also been an educator at the Faculty of Dance at York University, contributing to the department by creating courses in world dance. He is also a researcher in the field of dance ethnology and ethno-musicology. Sashar Zarif has received several awards for his performances and productions, including, among others,Toronto International Dance Festival’s Paula Citron Award in 2006 and the Chalmers Professional Development Grant from the Ontario Arts Council in 2003. T July 2008 TIRGAN
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Soheil Parsa and Absurdist Passions WRITTEN BY: HAMID REZAEIYAZDI
s art an imitation of life, or does life imitate art? In the world that Soheil Parsa creates as a director, this unsettling question is continually posed, but we certainly do not get a concrete answer.We do, however, fluctuate between the consciousness that this is a staged play and its disturbing resemblance to reality. Parsa’s achievement lies in the fact that he gives his interpretation of any given play a simple and archetypal quality that binds together seemingly different yet inherently similar plays by culturally-diverse playwrights. From Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot to Abbas Na’lbandian’s Stories from the Rains of Love and Death, Soheil Parsa has a touch that turns his productions into shows that are dreamlike yet frightfully life-like.
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Soheil’s trademark style as a director is the blending of the elements of Western theatre with those of Persian performing arts.
Soheil Parsa’s stage career started in his native Iran where as a young aspiring artist he attended the University of Tehran and finished his first academic endeavor in Theatre Performance. Shortly after, he began his career in theatre and performing arts as an actor and director. Soheil Parsa’s theatre career in Iran was briefly interrupted by his decision to immigrate to Canada in 1984. Change of circumstances, however, did not deter Soheil from pursuing his passion: he attendedYork University, completed a second Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre Studies atYork University, and in 1989 co-founded what was to become one of the most successful and culturally-diverse theatre companies in Canada: Modern Times Stage Company. Building on this passion, along with nearly three decades of professional experience in performance arts, Soheil Parsa integrated into his work as artistic director at ModernTimes Stage a rich array of works stretching across three continents. The rewards for such an outstanding career have been plenty: New Pioneers Award by Skills for Change for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts (1995), eight Dora awards, a Chalmers Fellowship (2002), and several international prizes and master class requests. He was also short-listed for the Siminovitch Prize in Theatre Celebrating Directors (2007), the largest Canadian theatre award. Soheil’s trademark style as a director is the blending of the elements ofWestern theatre with those of Persian performing arts. Critics have noted that Parsa’s emphasis on incorporating elements of Persian theatre into his productions have always given Modern Times Stage Company a strong thrust. T Photos provided by: Modern Times Stage Company
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iloofar Beyzaie is a playwright, director, and costume and set designer. She has studied in numerous areas of art including German literature, theatre, cinema, television and pedagogy at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. In 1994, she founded and became actively involved in the production of her company Daricheh Theatre Group. Niloofar Beyzaie has directed twelve plays including, Marjan, Mani and A Few Minor Difficulties, The Blue Dreams of the GreyWomen, and Blind Owl. Her plays were staged in Europe over 200 times and were highlypraised by audiences. In most of her plays, the subjects heavily focused on include: exile, oppression, freedom, and womenâ€™s political and social restrictions. She has published seven plays, forty research articles on theatre and film, and translations of over twenty articles on theatre. In 2005,The World Academy of Arts, Literature, and Media presented the Dramatic Arts award to Niloofar Beyzaie for her astounding efforts in directing and writing in theatre. T
At Tirgan festival, Niloofar Beyzaie will stage Blind Owl based on a masterpiece by one of the greatest Iranian modern writers, Sadeq Hedayat. The ticketed performance will take place on Friday July 18, 2008 at 8:00pm and Saturday July 19, 2008 at 2:00pm at the Enwave Theatre, Harbourfront Centre. ALSO AT TIRGAN: PANTEA PANAHIHA Pantea Panahiha, a theatre actress and assistant director will hold a highly-anticipated acting workshop on Sunday July 20, 2008 at 4:00pm in the Brigantine Room, Harbourfront Centre. 32
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Bringing Magic to the Stage tila Pesyani is an Iranian multi-talented artist who has had a successful career in both directing and acting. He was only ten years old when he started acting in his home country Iran. In the past 16 years, Pesyani has been involved in over 50 performances in both theatre and film. Pesyaniâ€™s first love and passion is in theatre. In 1989, he co-founded the successful Bazi Theatre Company, an organization devoted to creating dramatic performance pieces that help expand the recognition of theatre on an international level. Since their start, Bazi Theatre Company has performed in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Japan,Taiwan, India, and Switzerland. This summer, Bazi Theatre Company will be performing for the first time in Canada at Tirgan festival.Atila Pesyani, Fatemeh Naghavi, and Setareh Pesyani are just some of the names that will be performing in The Mute Who Was Dreamed, a play directed and written by Pesyani himself.The play, which encompasses all aspects of great theatre, includes themes linked to politics and poetry. The story expresses the life of a mute child and her relationship with her career.The story is expressed without words, but magnificently and effectively combines a range of lights, sounds, and movements on one stage. T
Catch the open performance of The Mute Who Was Dreamed on Friday July 18, 2008 at 9:30pm in the Studio Theatre, Harbourfront Centre. July 2008 TIRGAN
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Reflections on the Memories and Dreams of a Nation WRITTEN BY: FARYA SHAKER ommon myths, recollections, and aspirations have been cited among the building blocks of nations. Persian literature has played a pivotal role in maintaining continuity in the identity of the people who have inhabited the Iranian plateau for the past two millennia. It has been a mirror onto which common recollections and aspirations of a whole nation have been reflected. In the aftermath of repeated conquests of Persia by Greeks, Arabs,Turks, and Mongols, the defeated Iranians made a collective effort to compensate the loss in the battleground by victory in the realm of culture.The language became the bearer of national heritage and a means to assimilate the newcomers. Religious and/or political restrictions on certain artistic activities such as painting, dance, music, and theater further complicated the role of literature
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Persian literature has assumed the role of expressing a whole range of sentiments and emotions that build the mosaic of human soul.
as it had to act as a substitute in the absence of those other artistic expressions, which might very well be the root of its multilayer and diverse nature. Persian literature has assumed the role of expressing a whole range of sentiments and emotions that build the mosaic of human soul.The four main protagonists of Persian literature are Firdowsi who recites through epics of “Book of Kings,” the story of the triumph of good over evil; Rumi, who is the proponent of the unity of all humanity with creation; Sa’adi, whose poetry is an elegant and eloquent adoration of beauties of man and nature; finally, Hafiz, whose poetry is considered revelations from an unfathomable world. Persian language was once spread in a wide, geographically diverse area stretched from India to China. This is quite puzzling noting it being the language of a nation defeated repeatedly in battlegrounds. Lacking military and material might to further its cause, Persian language spread beyond geographical borders of Persia by becoming bearer of such universal values as love of the other, tolerance, and admiration of the beauties of creation and creator. At the Tirgan festival, a range of programs have been planned to cover different aspects of Persian literature from talks on myths, story reading by prominent Iranian authors, and live performances of recitation of epic stories of the “Book of Kings” (Shahnameh).This festival is an excellent opportunity to catch a glimpse of a transcendent world as revealed in Persian literature and meeting a nation by dwelling into its common recollections and dreams. T July 2008 TIRGAN
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Jafar Vali – The Face of Iranian Theater WRITTEN BY: FARYA SHAKER xistence of theatrical tradition in Iran in the context of Greek theatre has long been debated among those interested in Iranian artistic tradition. According to highly acclaimed theatre director, playwright, and actor Jafar Vali, emphasis of such a discourse on the centrality of Greek theatre against which all other theatrical traditions are to be measured, deprives one from appreciation of a rich and diverse Iranian artistic expression that has survived throughout millennia against all odds. Vali refers to recollections dating back to more than half a century ago when people assembled in the teahouses and eloquent narrators recited epics from voluminous “Book of Kings” of Firdowsi. Rather minimal setting of narration, being a deliberately vague rendition of a snapshot of the story, was evoked to stimulate the
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Jafar Vali presents a unique “Naghali” performance that is inspired by his longstanding artistic career as a prominent playwright, director, and actor.
imagination of the audience and further accentuate depiction of fierce scenes of chivalry, royal festive occasions, and tender parting of lovers.The narrator usually included lines from other poets or even religious motifs to further dramatize the performance. Early encounter of Vali with traditional recitation of “Book of Kings” (Naghali) precipitated his later attempt to survey various forms of “Naghali” among such diverse groups as urban population and nomads in different parts of Iran. For instance, he discovered that while “Naghals” of Bakhtiari clans resorted to appropriate Persian musical modes (Maqams) to capture the mood of what was recited, “Naghals” in urban areas made a frequent use of lines from famous classical Persian prose such as “Samak A’ayar” and “Eskandar Naameh” to enhance the theatrical experience. While playing multiple roles, they improvised the story according to the mood of audience. The element of improvisation established a reciprocal, complex, and delicate interplay between “Naghal” and the audience. Jafar Vali presents a unique “Naghali” performance that is inspired by his longstanding artistic career as a prominent playwright, direc-
tor, and actor. Having half a century of experience in theatre and performing arts,Vali has collaborated with such brilliant talents as Parviz Fanizadeh, Ali Nasirian, Gholamhosein Sa’aedi, among many others to perform classics of theater from Shakespeare, Brecht, and Chekhov which had a significant impact on familiarization of Iranian theater enthusiasts to masterpieces of theater. Vali has played an instrumental role in founding a theater industry that is inspired by the rich theatrical tradition of Iran. He had very close and fruitful collaborations with the late Gholamhossein Sa’aedi to perform plays that reflect the social tensions of the time. JafarVali has recently been recognized as the best actor of the year in Iran. Jafar Vali’s performance in Tirgan is inspired by traditional “Naghali” and is a two part sequel that recounts the story of “Rostam in the court of the King of Samangan, his marriage to Princess Tahmineh, and his immediate departure to serve his master King of Iran,”“The birth of Sohrab and his quest to meet his father,” and forecloses with “The fierce fight of Rostam, the legendary warrior with his yet unidentified son, Sohrab” which is one of the gloomiest stories of the “Book of Kings.” T July 2008 TIRGAN
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Shahrzad in Exile An Interview with Mahshid Amirshahy WRITTEN BY: KIANA TOUFIGHI ahshid Amirshahy occupies a place of prominence among contemporary Iranian authors. Debuting her literary career in the 1960’s, she has produced a riveting collection of novels and short stories to contemporary Persian literature, with a unique style that is distinguished by its clarity, satire, and masterful dialogues. In preparation for the festival, we conducted an interview with Ms. Amirshahy to provide a more intimate look into her life and works. Mahshid Amirshahy was born into a family that valued education and the arts. Her father was a judge and her mother was a political activist. On her parents, she explains,“Both were sharp, intelligent and headstrong individuals, and separated when I was still quite young.” As a child, Amirshahy was an avid reader not
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I find the sound and the shape of words very engaging, [and] extremely alluring. I remember the first time I learned to write my name I burst out joyfully.
looking past anything. She states, “I even read the newspaper wrappings of the salted watermelon seeds, dried cherries or plum lavashak that we bought from Mahmood Aqa’s grocery-haberdasherystationer's shop.” Amirshahy completed her early education in Iran but was sent to a boarding school in England before entering university where she studied physics. Her first experimentation with writing occurred abroad. She states, “I first started to scribble down some sketches, short stories, even poems when I couldn’t hear Persian around me anymore…It all started as a strictly private matter; as private as keeping a diary – only it wasn’t one. To hear Persian, at least mentally, I told myself untold stories.”After completing her formal education in physics, she returned to Iran and published her first collection of short stories. Despite the fact she was raised by a political activist,Amirshahy’s stories transcend the political trends of the day, thus making them timeless in their appeal. At a time when many of her contemporaries were influenced by leftist ideals and wrote about the dispossessed class, Amirshahy’s stories mostly dealt with familiar subjects, namely the urbane and educated bourgeois. She assertively expresses,“I always write about people, places and events that I am familiar with, or else I do my homework properly before putting my pen to paper. I hate clichés… [and] becoming the mouthpiece of an ideology.” She goes further to state,“I have always stayed aloof from the literary or political fashions that every now and again shake and shape the intelligentsia of Iran…I simply try to tell a story in the best of my abilities and not to promote a certain political point of view.”
When asked how young aspiring writers should nourish their talent, Amirshahy advises, “To read copiously - as much as they possibly can and when they try their hands in writing, to be severe in their judgement. Classical and modern masterpieces are obvious choices to read, but not only those…whatever they lay their hands on. One learns just as much from good as from bad writings.” Amirshahy reads extensively and in her own words has drawn inspiration from “Persian poetry as well as Russian, English, and American prose.” She states that other factors influence one’s way of thinking such as particular events, various journeys, as well as new knowledge.Above all, her love affair with words has been the biggest inspiration.“I find the sound and the shape of words very engaging, [and] extremely alluring. I remember the first time I learned to write my name I burst out joyfully: ‘My my! It looks exactly like me!’ I already knew it sounded like me!” When asked which is more important: natural talent or formalised training, she explains,“Talent without a lot of reading and without a lot of hard work dries up quickly; however, no amount of reading or hard work would produce any valuable piece of writing without talent.” Since the Islamic revolution,Amirshahy has lived in France. In her exile she has written five novels, innumerable articles, reviews, commentaries, and lectures. She is currently working on the fourth volume of her tetralogy, Mothers and Daughters, which is expected to come out in the near future. Mahshid Amirshay will carry out two sessions of book readings from her recent works at the Tirgan festival and will attend another session to have a dialogue with the audience about her literary career. T July 2008 TIRGAN
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WRITTEN BY: KIANA TOUFIGHI Ariel Balevi is a storyteller for general audiences, focusing mainly on literary and folkloric stories from the Eastern tradition. His repertoire, predominantly from Iran and Turkey, includes stories from Shahnameh, Haft Paykar, and Thousand and One Nights. Balevi has performed in various venues in the Toronto area and other cities in North America including Ottawa and Washington D.C. He was a featured guest at the Word on the Street festival as well as the Toronto International Festival of Storytelling. Ariel Balevi will carry out a storytelling session featuring the legendary Zal and Rudabeh, one of the greatest love stories of the poetic epic Shahnameh. This renowned Persian myth deals with themes like war, generational conflict, and redemption. The main characters Zal and Rudabeh are the parents of the exalted mythical hero Rostam. Their story provides a parallel narrative to the celebrated Rostam and Sohrab epic, which will also be performed at this festival. Balevi's storytelling event will feature a painting by master artist Alijan Alijanpour,specifically created as a backdrop for this performance. In addition, esteemed Santoor player PirouzYousefian will perform live music, making the story much more powerful.
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A senior research scholar at the center for Iranian Studies at Columbia University and the Consulting Editor on Modern Persian Fiction for Encyclopedia Iranica, HouraYavari is one of the renowned literary figures presenting at Tirgan festival. She graduated from Tehran University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature and then continued her education at the Bank Street College of Educaton in New York where she received a Masters of Arts Degree in Psychology. HouraYavari is well-known for her articles and books including: Psychoanalysis and Literature in Iran: Two Texts, Two Selves,Two Worlds and Living in the Mirror:A Literary Perspective. T
Shahab Fotouhi, ‘Security, Love and Democracy,’ 2005.
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The Development of Visual Arts within the Iranian Culture WRITTEN BY: DR. HAMID KESHMIRSHEKAN
here is no doubt that the developmental nature of contemporary Iranian art and its eagerness to contribute to contemporary art worldwide is a distinguishing feature that differentiates it from other art in the Islamic world.This could be seen from the time when modernism began to be adapted by the pioneers in the mid-1940s until present. Modern Iranian art, grounded in the great complexity of Iran’s socio-political culture, experienced a period of development in the second half of the twentieth century. It then had to re-establish itself in deep socio-political and cultural changes including the Islamic Revolution, its aftermaths, and a period of reformism and its aftermaths, each of them competing for the articulation of various artistic trends during the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. For more than half a century since modernism began to be adopted by Iranian artists, the avant-gardes as well as intellectuals in other fields were caught between two poles: authenticism and modernism.The debate over these 42
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issues resulted in the growth of various new tendencies and movements. In other words, since modernism began to be adapted by Iranian artists, many of those pioneers had tried to look at contemporary Western art from an Iranian point of view. It was therefore no surprise that many artists who adopted the framework of modernism for their artistic practice were also engaged in the intellectual struggles of their country over the issue of cultural identity. During the 1960s, the artists of the so-called Saqq-kh-neh School looked to cults, rituals, and products of folk culture for inspiration. Exploring the various resources of traditional Iranian arts and crafts including decorative arts, designs, and calligraphy, rewarded the artists with the capacity to create characteristic innovative works.The artists felt free to explore indigenous art forms alongside- rather than in opposition to- the discourse they operate on. In this, the Saqq-kh-neh School in the sixties was undoubtedly the most influential avant-garde movement in the formation of the neo-traditionalist art in Iran at the time. At this juncture,criticism of theWest through anti-Western movements was growing among some Iranian intellectuals.It can be said that this kind of perception with regard to art was paralleled with the nativist and nationalist debates that were prevalent in both intellectual and political arenas of Iran at that time.The major similarity of these movements was to encourage Iranians to discover their identity, tradition, and national roots.These tendencies among the intelligentsia, which had originated in the 1940s and 1950s, manifested themselves in criticism of the insatiable desire among the majority to imitate and emulate theWest and its products.This was known as gharb-zadigi (Westoxication) in various scopes of life, literature, and art. The emergence of this intellectual discourse came to dominate the panorama of Iranian society. It is argued that the Islamic Revolution of 1979 constituted a watershed with regard to the issue of modernity in the Middle East and Islamic societies in general, and Iran in particular.While there occurred some profound transformations in various domains of Iranian life, politics, and culture according to revolutionary aspirations, these had a profound effect on the formation of Iranian post-revolutionary art.The immediate aftermath of the Islamic Revolution was that “modernism”
Morteza Dareba ghi, ‘Untitled,’ 2004.
Parviz Tanavoli, ‘Poet and the Nightingale Cage,’ 1970.
…many artists who adopted the framework of modernism for their artistic practice were also engaged in the intellectual struggles of their country over the issue of cultural identity.
transferred to a sort of art based on Islamic cultural traditions, which at first seemed to be very popular among the masses who were the main supporters of the Revolution. In the second period after the Revolution, one can see a different vision of artistic tendencies. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, new trends, attitudes, and methods unfolded dynamically. Modern Iranian art, after about a decade in the post-revolutionary period revived in the beginning of the 1990s. It incidentally coincided with the development of art biennial exhibitions in which various modernistic approaches were exhibited and rapidly developed. The new movements paved the way for developing new discourses in Iranian art and culture.A keen desire to establish a relationship with the international art scene was also a response to the need of many young artists who were eager to have transnational cultural and social links. One of the outcomes of the presence of Iranian artists in these events during the past few years has been that Iranian artists are now determinedly trying as fast as possible to go along with current artistic approaches and with what is happening in contemporary art among their counterparts all around the world. For others the concept of contemporaneity is not searched in the time or age.They do not limit themselves in choosing the technique or theme. They commit themselves to talk critically about the actual issues in their society by representing their own world – even if these issues had already been discussed and resolved elsewhere, they feel they still need to adapt them here. This art enables artists to forefront alternative visions of Iranian identity in an increasingly globalized world.In particular,through their artistic discourses, many young artists seek to disengage themselves from the nationalist agenda which has long dominated aesthetic discussions of Iranian art, instead invoking universalising and cosmopolitan discourses on web-sites and elsewhere in order to position their art firmly within a global art market; something which is often justified in terms of “becoming universal” and attracting non-Iranian audiences. These are the formations which actively shape and locate the work in the present and the conditions within which, through which, and against which, artists negotiate and re-create or re-vision themselves. T July 2008 TIRGAN
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Aydin Aghdashloo An Interview INTERVIEWED BY: FIROOZEH AGHDASHLOO TRANSLATED BY: HEDY ANVARI
ydin Aghdashloo is one of the most significant artists and researchers in modern Iran. He has devoted his life to the understanding and advancement of the ancient and contemporary Iranian cultures.The outcome of his extensive work over the years is available to the public through numerous paintings and volumes of books.At this yearâ€™s Tirgan festival,Aydin Aghdashloo is one of the featured artists who will display his work and lead a workshop dedicated to visual arts education. Read on as Tirgan Magazine had the honour of interviewing this legendary artist.
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TIRGAN MAGAZINE: What do you think is an Iranian’s idea of culture and what meaning does this culture have in the West? AYDIN AGHDASHLOO:Today’s meaning of culture has derived from outside of Iran, but after close to 7000 years, Iranians have built a particular meaning of importance and significance around this word.This, in reality, is a way of dealing with today’s worldly conflicts and its solutions. In other words, “culture” is a collection of customs, religions, art, languages,literature,science,inventions,and any other fact that one needs to form and shape one’s life. The people who lived 7000 years ago in the Iran plateau – with all their variety, differences, and countless events, always developed their cultural horizons. Even during historic defeats, they always possessed a continuous spirit that has carried its way until today.We know of this as the “Persian spirit.”Their language has been changed, their beliefs and religion have been altered, their land became smaller or larger, they conquered or were conquered, and still this grand spirit always remained intact and admirable. TM: Iranian art has gained exceptional success in international art markets.What do you think is the reason for this success and do you think this will continue in the future? AA: I cannot predict this. Logically this success should continue, considering that Iranian art,whether they are ancient paintings or they are post-modern and contemporary, are visibly more sophisticated in the region.Iranian paintings have not been introduced correctly in these past few years, but now it is starting to take its place. I have to mention here that international sales have their own rules and regulations just like stock markets.This means that the price for a piece of art will only be traded at its maximum value,and if it is presented at the right time to the right buyer.Art works are all affected by market fluctuations. No special person is in charge of pricing these art pieces;thus they go through a complicated process of trade. TM: A successful generation of Iranian artists now live outside of the country, working with an“Iranian”mentality such as Shirtin Neshaat who has been thriving in her work.What is your perspective on this group? AA: They are a phenomenal generation of artists and I have written articles about them–including Ms. Shirin Neshaat.This is a group that has been inspired by their heritage and they have kept this
insight evident throughout their work.They successfully use an international language to communicate a combination of both their memories from back home and the setting in which they have moved to, and this is what Ms. Shirin Neshaat has accomplished.This generational group of artists, have very little or no direct contact with the current culture, have set no boundaries in terms of culture and geographical standing, and they communicate their art in a worldly language; this includes artists such as Syah Armjaany, Shirazeh Houshiary, KamiYousefzadeh, and dozens of others. TM: It has become a controversial issue that an artist has an obligation to leave a print of his or her culture in their work of art. Do you believe that an artist has such an obligation? AA: No.An artist has no obligations toward anything. But if an artist is a cultural one, and has such things on their mind, then of course such thoughts will show in his or her work; however, there is a fine line between real and fake. It is a very simple task for an artist to create art with local colour and culture after researching and reading the art of cultural regions. There are artists however that wherever that they may be, whether in Iran or somewhere else in the world, will always leave a trace of their heritage in their work. But there are still artists that in the midst of worldly encounters, still use their memories. TM: What do you think about the Tirgan festival and what do you expect from it? AA: It is a very important and necessary event. Iranians far away from their homeland need such festivals and such reminders of their culture- much like the Italian and Irish celebrations in NewYork, or the Chinese events in the United States and England.These festivals are not only a reminder, but they are the activities and series of events that can truly capture the essence of the ancient culture for the Iranians living in another country. It is because of this that in a multi-cultural city likeToronto,there can be an example set and cultural activities can be found to remember the significance of our culture in this different environment. Such an important festival should be able to create a bond between Iranian artists and citizens living inToronto,and the visitors and other audience that have come to be part of this event. T
On Friday July 18, 2008, Aydin Aghdashloo will be giving a highly anticipated speech at the Brigantine Room, Harbourfront Centre at 7:00pm. On Saturday July 19, 2008, Aydin Aghdashloo will join a group of leading artists in a panel discussion being held at 7:00 pm in Miss Lou’s Room, Harbourfront Centre.
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Colours of Emotion WRITTEN BY: SHADI NASSERI
s a man whose life has bridged the cultures of the East and West, so too does his art. Born in Ghom, Iran in 1936, Gholamhossein Nami began painting at the tender age of 11, and it wasnâ€™t long after that art began to take a critical role in his life. Namiâ€™s passion for the visual arts eventually led him to complete his formal education in 1963 at the School of Fine Arts, at the University of Tehran.
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Nami explored depth of colour and the use of shadows… partiality for the colour white marked an era of hope and transformation for Nami.
As a young art student, Nami enjoyed sharing his passion with school children; he was greatly captivated by their innocence and authenticity. His interactions with the young are well reflected in his early works which display strong tendencies for bright, joyful, and vibrant colours. In 1967, a year after graduating from Tehran University, Gholamhossein Nami began to create his famous three-dimensional works. In his three-dimensional paintings, Nami explored depth of colour and the use of shadows. For Nami, partiality for the colour white marked an era of hope and transformation. This era was counterbalanced by a collection Nami later presented called,“The Death Paintings.”The collection paradoxically intertwines a sense of loss, dread, and mourning with a deep feeling of optimism. Eleven years after his first three-dimensional art works experience
and teaching at various art schools in Iran, Gholamhossein Nami moved to the United States to pursue a Masters of Fine Arts at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Nami has gained worldwide recognition for his unique contributions to the art world. His work has been displayed in countless exhibitions across the globe, and he is a well-regarded author and lecturer. Nami’s paintings are proudly displayed as part of the permanent collection of museums in Iran and the United States, and his awards include Golden Palm of Europe award, Oscar d'Italia 1985, Statue of Golden Flame, International Parliament USA, The Encyclopedia Iranica Award (Columbia University, U.S.A. 2005), and European Banner of the Arts. His many international awards and acknowledgements classify him as a true master of visual arts. T
At Tirgan festival, Gholamhossein Nami will be presenting a highly anticipated speech at the Brigantine Room on Friday January 18, 2008 at 7:00pm. Nami will also be one of the artists involved in a large panel discussion at Miss Lou’s Room on Saturday July 19, 2008 at 7:00pm. July 2008 TIRGAN
Drawing Inspiration from Within
multi-talented and world-renowned artist,Farideh Lashai displays a sense of wonder and tranquility in her work. Born in the northern city of Rasht,Iran,Farideh Lashai grew up in the banks of the Caspian Sea. She is recognized most for her visually-stunning paintings that are often described as “tender, brusque, and calligraphic.” After completing high school, Lashai left Iran and moved to Munich where she studied German Literature. Later, she traveled to Austria to join the Academy of Decorative Arts inVienna.After completing her studies, Farideh Lashai began to immerse herself in the world of decorative arts. By the 1960s, Lashai began painting professionally and it wasn’t long after that her artistic individuality was recognized by art-lovers and critics alike. Lashai’s time spent educating herself in Europe played an inspirational role in her paintings.The influences of European romantic landscape painting and the post-impressionist emphasis on the solidarity of colour were evident in her art. Those familiar with Farideh Lashai’s work often regard her style with the subject of nature.Although elements of the naturalistic world are found in many of her works, Lashai never regards it as a main subject for her paintings. She explains nature as a “refuge for the
essence of being.” She makes it clear that the natural forms that are seen in her paintings are not the “representation of external shapes” but rather reflections of moments she is chasing in nature. Farideh Lashai’s works largely represent the reality of a particular moment, and this is not only evident in her paintings, but in all mediums she creates.As a writer, she is most inspired by great Iranian poets like Hafiz, Nezami, Ferdowsi, and Rumi. On writing she explains,“Lyricism permeates all Persian culture; it is such an important part of our heritage.The same blood that ties me to the ground also longs for transcendence and words, music, sound; they all rise up and coverage in the sky.” When creating sculptures,Lashai communicates the interplay between weight and levity by contrasting metals. Brass is often displayed alongside glass or other forms of transparent elements. In some of her works, Lashai even pours boiling glass on heavy steel to achieve an extreme juxtaposition between fragility and solidity. Since her professional artistic career began, Farideh Lashai, one of the most celebrated Iranian painters of modern times has held 33 solo shows and participated in over 60 group shows around the world. T
The information in this article is from a text by: Alireza Sami-Azar
At Tirgan festival, Farideh Lashai will be one of the artists leading an important panel discussion for art lovers. The panel discussion begins at 7:00pm on Saturday July 19, 2008 at Miss Lou’s Room, Harbourfront Centre. 48
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Nasser Ovissi Firoozeh Nasser Ovissi, born in Tehran, Athari Iran in 1934, is an internationally
renowned Iranian artist. Ovissi studied law and political sciences at the University ofTehran before going on to study art at Beaux Fine Art in Rome, Italy. He is a painter, sculptor, engraver, designer, gold and silversmith, who effectively illustrates his passion and admiration for his Iranian heritage in his work and artistic expressions. He has written over seventeen books published in various languages including Italian, Japanese, French, Spanish, Persian, and English. Nasser Ovissi has also received numerous awards including the Grand Prize at the Monaco Contemporary Art Exhibition in France and is featured in E.Benezit's “Dictionaire des Peintures, Sculpteurs, Dessinatrurs et Graveurs”Vol. 9, Librurie Grand, Paris. Private and public collections of his work can be seen in Europe, Asia, and North America. Ovissi’s work is in major museum collections around the world, including the National Art Gallery of Athens, NewYork University Art Museum, Fine Art Museum of North Carolina, Contemporary Art Museum of Madrid, National Museum of Oriental Art in Rome, and the Contemporary Art Museum of Tehran. He also has over 300 private collections around the world.
Tooran Zandieh has over fortyfive years of experience as an art instructor in different universities and art centers. Her area of expertise is in drawing, painting, and art fundamentals. She has started a new era in her artistic experiments with a unique technique called Collage. She uses this as a tool for expressing her feelings and ideas by creating modern pieces of art out of pages that we review, read, or watch everyday. She perceives the mysterious and magical ways within each item and reflects them in her work. Tooran Zandieh graduated with a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts from Tehran University. Her professional resume includes experience in the field of art education and its integration with children’s psychology. She holds over fifteen international titles in art festivals for the achievement, guidance, and supervision prepared by her students. Tooran Zandieh has conducted several research projects and educational workshops on psychology, interpersonal skills, and children-parent relationships for families.
Pooyan Tabatabaei is an exceptional photojournalist who has received several international nominations and awards for his work. His latest work series referred to as Hijab, combined Eastern Elements and Western landscapes which resulted in post-modern masterpiece.This creation was nominated internationally and received three different awards. Pooyan has also worked as reporter and camera operator for world-wide media sources including, Spiegel, BBC, Guardian, Stern, 20minutes, Shargh Newspaper, and Fars News. Through his work, Pooyan Tabatabaei has portrayed the lives of many unique individuals stemming from different cultures, religions, beliefs, and value systems. His photographs capture the essence of the person in a way that he hopes will impact the lives of the people who view them as much as the subjects which impacted him. Deeply rooted is his view of seeing the world through his lens and the liberation from this experience which helps him catalogue reality and share the experiences with others. T
Born inTehran,Iran,Firoozeh Athari has contributed as an artist and a supporter of contemporary Iranian artists on an international level. Firoozeh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Interior Architecture from Tehran and a Master’s degree in Interior Design from Toronto. She established a design studio and one of her most celebrated projects is the design and renovation of the “Calligraphy Museum of Mir-emad.” In 1997, she also directed a documentary about an early 18th century painter, Agha-Lotfali Shirazi. Firoozeh has worked as a mixed media artist and has exhibited her work in Tehran,Toronto, and Paris. Infatuated with the world of art, she is now the owner and director of Arta Gallery located in Toronto’s Distillery District. In 2003 Arta Gallery was the first gallery to introduce and showcase the works of renowned artists such as Bahman Mohasses, Naser Assar and Aydin Aghdashloo to Toronto’s art scene. Firoozeh curates several collective exhibitions. She is most known for her work with “Under the Azure Dome,” a festival hosting works by Iranian and Canadian artists at the Harbourfront Centre in 2006.
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Ahmad Sakhavarz Ahmad Sakhavarz is one of the most prominent caricaturists and graphic artists of our time. His critical perspectives on Iranian society and politics have distinguished him as one of the pioneers of Iranian editorial cartooning, exploring significant global issues through his work. His cartoons and illustrations have won numerous awards and have appeared regularly in various Iranian and international publications. Sakhavarz is dedicated to his art and his passion for nature is apparent in his work of the great outdoors and its creatures.Working professionally as a painter and sculptor, his work has been shown at international art shows, exhibited in important juried shows in Canada and the United States, and published in prominent magazines. Today, Sakhavarz’s works can be found in many private and public collections across Canada and the United States, including the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, National Museum of Nature in Ottawa, Houston Museum of Nature, and National Geographic Society in Washington D.C. 50
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Born in Tehran, Iran, Shamsi Shahrokhi obtained her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Allameh Tabatabaie University in Tehran and is an award-winning graduate from the Ontario College of Art and Design, majoring in drawing and painting. She founded “Heat Drawing,” an award-winning technique where images and shapes are created on heat-sensitive papers by applying heat to their surfaces rather than using conventional materials. Her work demonstrates her commitment, admiration, and passion to her Persian culture and her life in Canada. Shahrokhi has received numerous awards for her work such as the OCAD’s Dorothy Hoover Award, 1st prize of 6th National Biennial Competition of Art and Paper, and Blueman Group’s First Annual Vortex Art Competition. Her piece, “Distinguished Women,” has also been selected to appear on the cover of Ontario’s Community Arts Matters! Magazine (CAM). She currently resides in Thornhill, Ontario, practicing her art and administering art lessons for artists of all ages. Distinguished Women
Born inTehran in 1958,Mahmoud Meraji spent much of his time playing in a small garden in his backyard. It was in this enchanting garden where his imagination was stimulated. Petgar, the famous Iranian artist, who was a friend of Meraji’s family, immediately recognized Meraji’s talent and ability and encouraged him to become an artist. He became a student and then an assistant in Petgar’s atelier. In 1976, Meraji created his own studio where he experimented with his art and taught others. He works mostly with pastel and oil colours, although he has experimented with a variety of mediums. His work reflects his feelings and reactions with regards to the increasingly turbulent world surrounding him. His reputation in Iran grew quickly from the moment he held his first solo exhibition inTehran in 1982. Since then, Meraji has moved to Toronto where he has held many exhibitions. His most recent group exhibitions include the Iranian Artists’ Cultural Reunion Six Weeks of Iranian Art in Toronto, theVarley Gallery of Markham, and Under the Azure Dome – Persian Festival in Toronto.
Farshid Mesghali After studying painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts atTehran University, Farshid Mesghali began his professional career as a graphic designer and illustrator with Negin Magazine.Later,Mesghali joined the Institute for Intellectual Development for Children and Young Adults in Tehran where he illustrated books and created animated films for children. He has won numerous awards like the Honorary Diploma of Bologna Book Fair for “Hero,” Special Prize atVenice Film Festival for “The Boy, The Bird & Musical Instrument,” Hans Christian Anderson Award for his contribution to children’s books illustrations, First Graphic Prize at Sixth International Children Book Fair in Bologna, and the Grand Prize at the Giffonni Film Festival in Italy for “Look Again.” Over the course of his versatile career in Paris,USA,and Iran,Mesghali has produced many paintings and sculptures, digital photos based on snapshots, and virtual reality environments for the online world. T
Morteza Momayez (Aug 26, 1936 – Nov 25, 2005) Born in Tehran in 1936, the late Morteza Momayez received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in painting fromThe Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Tehran and then went on to receive his PostGraduate Degree from Ecole Nationale des Arts Decoratives in Paris. Momayez was one of the most renowned and dedicated artistic and cultural figures of our time. Among his many talents, Momayez taught at the Faculty of Fine Arts at Tehran University, was one of the founders of the Iranian Graphic Design Society and Chairman,a member ofAlliance Graphique Internationale,co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Neshan Magazine,and President ofTehran International Poster Biennial 2004. Morteza Momayez did not just instruct graphic design but rather taught people to find their own strengths. He shared all that he knew because he believed he received more than he could ever give. He is considered by many as “the father of Iranian graphic design” for his dedication and ability in building dependable relations between graphic design in Iran and the modern world. In 2004, a year before his death, Morteza Momayez was honoured with the ICOGRADA Life Time Achievement Award and had his work exhibited at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Arts.
Khosrow Bayat Khosrow Bayat studied painting at The Faculty of Fine Arts at the University ofTehran.He continued his studies at The Royal College of Art in London, England where he received his Master of Arts Degree in graphic design and commercial arts. He is internationally known as an experienced graphic and creative designer, typographer, commercial artist,and advertising specialist.His career in design began when he joined his friend, the late Morteza Momayez, at The Kayhan Publishing Company. Bayat later became the Art Director of Iran Air and successfully moved his way up in the company into the Advertising Manager position. He also founded the Novograph Studio in Toronto in 1982.
Khosrow Bayat’s work, having been published and exhibited, has won numerous awards including,The International Advertising Association Crystal Globe Award Dublin,The International Poster Biennial Exhibition Award Warsaw,Times Newspaper London, and The International Poster Exhibition & Publication FAD Group Barcelona Spain.
Bobak Etminani Between 1989 and 1991, Bobak Etminani received both his BFA (with high distinction) and his MFA from the California College of the Arts in Oakland, California. Bobak Etminani has been teaching and painting in Iran since 1992, and is best known for creating expressionistic and mystical abstract paintings with Sufi feelings. The magical energy that is felt in Etminani’s paintings derives from his ability to incorporate his personal thoughts, feelings, and experiences into his art. Popular among the younger generation of aspiring artists, Bobak Etminani works tirelessly to raise awareness of the importance of art, and ensures the beauty of art is appreciated and experienced on the highest level. Discussing the inspiration behind his work, Bobak Etminani explains, “My art is about the essence, the hidden obvious, and its majestic beauty. It is about the mysterious oneness of nature as the great source of my inspiration. I make paint behave like the universe on my canvas. Through this awesome occurrence, I observe how matter relates to energy, perceive the process of the creation, and unveil a divine beauty before my eyes.”
Mohammad Ehsaei Mohammad Ehsaei’s masterful calligraphy pieces are widely known for their complex compositions. Since 1971, Ehsaei has been teaching at the Visual Communications Department in the Faculty of Fine Arts at Tehran University. The praise he has received from critics for his “heavenly art” work has earned him numerous awards that include the Best Designer of the Year, the National Award for Art and Culture, and Honorable Mention at ISESCO. Ehsaei’s work has been showcased in national and international exhibitions, and he was selected as “defender of the Quran” artist in 1999 for his writing and designing of numerous pages of the Quran. T
WRITTEN BY:YOTA APOSTOLAKOS
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Art by: Morteza Momayez
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here are countless amounts of Iranian talent that exist within the broad area of visual arts. That is why there are over 30 painters, illustrators, calligraphers, and graphic designers in attendance at this yearâ€™s Tirgan Festival. Here are more names of highly successful artists who will be showcasing their visually- stunning works to festival goers:
Javad Mojabi Majid Abbasi Behzad Adineh Alijan Alijanpour Mostafa Assadollahi
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Reza Bassiri Bahram Dabiri Mo Jamal Shahla E. Jamal Mahmoud Javadipour
Sam Javanrouh Mohsen Judy Abbas Kiarostami Sirak Melkonian Negar Pooya
Mehdi Pouryan Mehrdad Shoghi Khosrow Sinai
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Art by: Nasser Ovissi
Art by: Bahram Dabiri
Art by: Sirak Melkonian
EXPERIENCE THE BEAUTY OF ART: EXHIBITION: The works of the artists coming to Tirgan festival will be displayed for four consecutive days on Thursday July 17, 2008 to Sunday July 20, 2008.The art work will be showcased in the visual arts section of the festival. SPEECHES: On Friday July 18, 2008 at 7:00pm, Aydin Aghdashloo and Gholamhossein Nami will give two highly-anticipated speeches in the Brigantine Room, Harbourfront Centre. On Saturday July 19, 2008 at 12:30pm, Farshid Mesghali and Javad Mojabi will be giving two important speeches in Miss Lou’s Room, Harbourfront Centre. PANEL DISCUSSIONS: Art lovers will get a special treat on Saturday July 19, 2008 when nine of the top Iranian artists get together for an intimate panel discussion on everything art! The panel discussion will begin at 7:00pm in Miss Lou’s Room, Harbourfront Centre. T
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IRANIAN CINEMA: A Glance at the Past and into the Present WRITTEN BY: AREF MOHAMMADY
f we assume the silent movie Abi va Rabi, produced by Ovanis Ohanian in 1930, is a cornerstone for Iranian cinema, it becomes evident that Iranian cinema has been alive for 78 years. Despite the fact that this form of art has endured a life of tribulations that includes poverty, internal scuffles, political coupes, recession, censorship, revolution, and even war, Iranian cinema has survived and surpassed its borders to reach a level of international fame. Throughout the years, public expectation of Iranian cinema has increased, and there is no doubt that it has persevered and proven its prestige.At the infancy stage, many tried to push Iranian cinema into the wrong direction and several filmmakers tried to take advantage of the art for their own financial and intellectual benefits. For instance, the 1960s saw the creation of a slew of uninspiring and insignificant films that were placed in the category known today as: Film Farsi. During this time, a handful of Iranian filmmakers emerged that were determined to save Iranian cinema. Ebrahim Golestan and Farokh Ghafari were among the first, and proved their talent by producing movies like Khesht va Ayeneh and Jonoobe Shahr. Today, Golestan and Ghafari are considered by many to be the pioneers of an era coined “new-wave” cinema. “New-wave” cinema, a movement that began in the 1960s, introduced highly-celebrated directors like Dariush Mehrjui and Masud Kimiai to avid movie goers. This new movement lasted nearly two decades and introduced other talented directors and producers including Nasser Taghvai, Bahram Beyzaie, Bahman Farmanara, Ali Hatami, Amir Naderi, and Abbas Kiarostami. Each filmmaker displayed individuality in their works and contributed significantly to preserving the longstanding “new-wave” era. By occurrence of the Islamic Revolution, new laws and policies were
enforced by the Ministry of Islamic Guidance. Iranian cinema faced new criteria in filmmaking and many of the “new-wave” filmmakers were banned to work until the 1980s.The ban created an avenue for a younger generation of filmmakers to emerge. A number of the filmmakers that reached a level of fame shortly after the revolution were linked to the government. Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Ebrahim Hatamikia, Majid Majidi, Behrooz Afkhami, Kamal Tabrizi, and Rasul Molagholipoor are among the renowned producers of this younger generation group. The end of the 1980s was considered to be the golden era of Iranian cinema.During this time,“new-wave”film producers who were banned after the revolution were permitted to work again as long as they abided by the Islamic government standards.Directors and writers of short films and television programs also stepped into the scene and began creating feature length films. Iranian cinema was rapidly expanding. Bahman Qobadi, Jafar Panahi, Kamal Tabrizi, Kambozia Partovi, Iraj Karimi,Asghar Farhadi, Parviz Shahbazi, and Hamid Ne’Matollah are among the most successful directors who made their directorial debut in the early 1990s. Presently, their work has gained considerable recognition on a global scale. At Tirgan festival, an opportunity has been created for movie enthusiasts to gather for the screening of some of the most influential and highly-acclaimed films in Iranian cinema. Films like Derakht Golabi (The Pear Tree), Khoon Bazi (Mainline), and Charshanbe Soori (Fireworks Wednesday) are among the celebrated films that will be available for screening at various halls at the Harbourfront Centre. T
Aref Mohammady’s text has been translated into English from its original version.
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The Woman Behind the Film: Rakhshan Bani-Etemad WRITTEN BY: ZAHRA PARHIZGARI
She looks at the poor and the underprivileged with respect and tries to portray their honest efforts for a better life, despite their tragic situations.
akhshan Bani-Etemad is one of Iran’s best known and most prolific female filmmakers. She has been a major figure in Iranian cinema for over twenty years, and since 1991, she has appeared at various festivals, including the Toronto International Film Festival. Born in Tehran in 1954, Rakhshan Bani-Etemad studied film at the University of Dramatic Arts in Tehran. In 1973, she joined the national television network as a script girl, and was later promoted to assistant director, then producer, and finally manager. She began her career behind the camera in 1984, researching and documenting the socio-political issues which were defining the lives of the poor and underprivileged. Her documentary approach has remained constant in her film works. Her first three feature films were comedies with a sharp eye for social
satire. Her later films focused on strong women living under difficult and discriminatory social conditions. She is able to look at the poor and the underprivileged with respect and portray their honest efforts for a better life, despite their tragic situations. Bani-Etemad’s international recognition includes winning numerous awards, among them the Bronze Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival for The Blue-Veiled (1995), an award from the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development in the Netherlands, and the Best Achievement in Directing from Asia Pacific Screen Awards for Mainland (Khoon Bazi). She has also been a member of the jury at several local and international festivals. Bani-Etemad’s latest feature film, Mainland (Khoon Bazi), will be screened during the Tirgan Festival. T July 2008 TIRGAN
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Making Films for the Love of It
man driven by a profound passion for film,Asghar Farhadi is one of Iran’s most powerful and sought-after directors. In just five years of directing major motion picture films, he has shot to the top of countless producers’ lists. As a teenager,Asghar Farhadi became actively involved in the world of cinema when he began working with Youth Cinema in Isfahan, Iran. Initially, Farhadi was only interested in cinema, but after one of the admittance interviewers at Modares University informed him that it would be more beneficial for his future to study plays as well, Asghar Farhadi decided to expand his horizons and take a stab into the world of theatre.At 19 years of age, he was admitted to Modares University. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Drama Literature followed by a Masters of Arts in Theatre Directing from Tehran University. Today, Asghar Farhadi admits that he is happy that he took the chance to study and become acquainted with the world of playwriting, since it helped shape his current film career.
After graduating, Farhadi found himself directing several plays which led him to work on a few television programs as well.The first television show that he wrote was Roozegar Javani (Youth Days).The show attracted a great deal of attention which led him to write a nine part mini-series called Pezeshkan (Doctors). Right before beginning to make movies, Asghar Farhadi also wrote Ertefa Past (The Low Height).The positive feedback that he received from audiences and critics on the television shows encouraged Farhadi to pursue a professional career in cinema. In 2003, Asghar Farhadi directed his first feature film, Raghs Dar Ghobar (Dance in Dust).The film was heavily praised by critics and received four awards including Best Director at the Asia-Pacific Film Festival, and Best Actor at the Moscow International Film Festival. Asghar Farhadi’s latest movie, Charshanbeh Soori has won five awards including Best Feature at the Chicago International Film festival, and Best Director at the Fajr Film Festival. T
Special thanks to the information and help provided by: Aref Mohammady and Shahrzad Dehsarvi.
On Sunday July 20, 2008 at Tirgan Festival, Asghar Farhadi’s celebrated film, Charshanbeh Soori, will be screened at 1:00pm in the Studio Theatre, Harbourfront Centre. 56
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multi-talented artist who is one of the pioneers of the Iranian “new-wave” cinema movement of the 1960’s,Abbas Kiarostami I believe the films is a world-renowned director, producer, writer, and actor. He of Iranian filmmaker is most known by his fans and critics for creating controversial,yet highly influential films, and is also considered to be one of the most Abbas Kiarostami important figures in contemporary Iranian film history. are extraordinary. Abbas Kiarostami was born in Tehran, Iran in 1940. He graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Tehran and began Words cannot relate work as a graphic designer and painter.After making a modest career my feelings. I suggest out of his graphic design work,Abbas Kiarostami entered the world of film at the age of 30- he has not looked back since. His creativity you see his films; and signature style makes Abbas Kiarostami arguably the most and then you will distinguished and recognizable filmmakers of Iranian cinema. He is the winner of countless national and international awards including being see what I mean the first Iranian director to win the Golden Palm award at the Cannes – Akira Kurosawa, March 23 1910September 6 1998 Producer/Director Film Festival for his movie, Ta’m e Guilass (Taste of Cherry). Currently, Abbas Kiarostami is working on his latest project unofficially titled, Roonevesht Barabar Asl Ast.The movie follows a middle-aged English writer who meets a young French woman and goes off with her to San Gimignano. T
A B B A S K I A R O S TA M I C E L E B R AT E D W O R K S : Film: Kargaran Mashghoole Karand Year: 2006 Co-writer Film: Talaye Sorkh Year: 2003 Writer Film: Ten Year: 2002 Director/Writer
Film: Istgah Martouk Year: 2002 Co-writer
Film: Beed-o Baad Year: 1999 Writer
Film: Zire Darakhatan Zeyton Year: 1994 Director/Writer
Film: Kelid Year: 1987 Writer
Documentary: ABC Africa Year: 2001 Director
Film: Ta’m e Guilass Year: 1997 Director/Writer
Film: Nema-ye Nazdik Year: 1990 Director/Writer
Film: Khane-ye Doust Kodjast? Year: 1987 Director/Writer
Film: Bad Ma Ra Khahad Bord Year: 1999 Writer
Film: Badkonake Sefid Year: 1995 Writer
Film: Safar Year: 1994 Writer
On Saturday July 19, 2008 at Tirgan festival, Abbas Kiarostami will be present at the screening of several of his short films. The event will be taking place at 2:30pm in the Brigantine Room, Harbourfront Centre.
hosrow Sinai, a film director and scholar, is highly respected and admired on an international level. After graduating from Alborz High School in Tehran, Iran, a young Khosrow travelled to Austria where he studied architecture at theVienna University of Technology. Later, he went on to study music composition at the Vienna Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. Khosrow Sinai has made approximately 100 short films, documentaries and feature films combined. His award-winning feature films include: Viva…!,The Inner Beast, and The Bride of Fire. Sinai is also a professional writer and translator of essays about fine arts. The Man inWhite andThe Artists of a Blood Shedding Era are two of his well-known publications. His impressive profile also includes being a juror in national and foreign film festivals, working in the Ministry of Arts and Culture, and teaching at various universities. T
On Saturday July 19, 2008, Khosrow Sinai’s film, Avazhaye Sokoot (Songs of Silence) will be screened at 1:30pm in the Brigantine Room, Harbourfront Centre. July 2008 TIRGAN
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orn in Tehran, Iran in 1939, Dariush Mehrjui is one of Iran’s most admired and talented directors of modern Iranian cinema. Mehrjui was educated at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in the field of Cinema. He eventually switched his major to Philosophy and graduated in 1964. After his studies, Dariush Mehrjui returned to Iran, and it wasn’t long after that he embarked on his filmmaking career. In 1966, he made his film debut with Almaas 33 (Diamond 33). Even though the movie was well-received on a national level, it wasn’t until three years later that Merhjui began to receive international attention
with his second feature film, Gaav (The Cow). The movie scored Mehrjui the OCIC Award- Recommendation at the Berlin International Film Festival. In 1973, Dariush Mehrjui began work on Dayereh Mina (The Cycle), his most celebrated film to date. Due to complications with the Iranian Medical Establishment, the film was not officially released until 1977. Dayereh Mina was well-received by international markets for its fast-paced storyline and character development.The film went on to receive two awards at the Berlin Film Festival. Since his debut, Dariush Mehrjui, a director, writer, editor, and producer, has been involved with over a dozen films including the controversial award-winning films Leila and Ali Santoori. His love for cinema and acknowledgement of socio-political issues in his films is what makes Mehrjui stand out as an exceptional director and filmmaker. T
olshifteh Farahani, daughter of actor/director Behzad Farahani, has already created a lot of international buzz and has quickly soared to the top as one of Iran’s most highly-respected entertainers. Farahani’s interest in the arts began at the early age of five when she studied music and learned to play the piano. Possessing a love for music, Golshifteh’s career path changed drastically when at only 14 years old, she was cast as a lead in Dariush Mehrjui’s highly-praised movie, Derakhte Golabi (The Pear Tree). Her performance was well-received by critics and landed her the Best Actress prize at the coveted International Fajr Film Festival. Today, a 25 year old Golshifteh Farahani has quickly added over a dozen films to her already impressive resume. She even won the Best Actress award from the Nantes Three Continents Festival for her role in Hamid Nematollah’s movie, Boutique. In her latest movie, Golshifteh Farahani plays alongside Bahram Radan in Dariush Mehrjui's controversial hit, Ali Santoori. Farahani plays the wife of a musician turned drug-addict. Her gripping performance has been applauded by critics from around the world. T
At Tirgan festival, Dariush Mehrjui and Golshifteh Farahani will be present at the screening of the awardwinning film, Derakhte Golabi (The Pear Tree) on Saturday July 19, 2008 at 5:00pm in the Studio Theatre, Harbourfront Centre.
July 2008 TIRGAN
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