York U filmmakers explore links between Tehran and Toronto

An image from Taravat Khalili's work in progress
An image from Taravat Khalili’s work in progress

A vigorous cultural and political dialectic is flourishing between Tehran and Toronto, with films made here that speak passionately to complexities there. Four York film alumni and graduate students explore the link between the two cities in “Tehronto”, a screening and panel discussion presented by York’s Graduate Film Seminar Depth of Field series, taking place Nov. 13 at 8pm at Cinecycle in downtown Toronto.

filmmaker Mehran Jabbari
Mehran Jabbari

“Tehronto” features short films by Mehran Jabbari (BFA ‘08, MFA ’13), Meelad Moaphi (BFA ’10), and MFA candidates Taravat Khalili (BFA ’10) and Saeid Zargar (BFA ’12). While their productions range through the genres of documentary, fiction and experimental film, they are united by their engagement with Iranian realities, traversing the political, cultural and aesthetic distances between Toronto and Tehran.

filmmaker Meelad Moaphi
Meelad Moaphi
Tudeh officers in jail, an image from Saeid Zagar's work in progress
Tudeh officers in jail, an image from Saeid Zagar’s work in progress

“Tehronto is an amazing opportunity to highlight the work of young Iranian artists who still have a heart for their ancestral country, and who are doing everything in their power to show that Iran is a beautiful country with a rich culture, ” Jabbari says.

In addition to presenting recent shorts, the filmmakers will also share some works currently in production, inviting viewers to engage with the creative process.

Arrhythmia, by Meelad Moaphi, uses footage from a cardiac catheterization, mixed with audio recordings and old 8-mm home movies, to tell the story of a mother’s conflicting desire to escape an unhappy marriage by returning to her homeland.

Taravat Khalili will present her current work-in-progress, an experimental diary film. It’s based on her own personal history and that of her family, says Khalili, and includes “stories of living in Canada as immigrants as well as touching on the life we left behind in Iran.”

Another work-in-progress is Saeid Zargar’s film about five Iranian men reflecting on the rise and fall of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh’s anti-imperialistic movement. “It’s a

Poster for Saranjaam

documentary, but with a fictionalized structure,” says Zargar. “It’s the story of old people who experienced life in a different era and time, and the effect of the past on their hearts and minds.”

Jabbari’s Saranjaam is a fiction film about a young Iranian couple who flee post-revolution Iran to seek refuge in Canada. Upon their arrival, they face difficulties at the immigration court, where they are repeatedly refused immigrant status — until they find help in the form of a sympathetic stenographer.

Taravat Khalili
Taravat Khalili

The screenings will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by Khatereh Sheibani, assistant professor of Persian studies in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and the author of The Poetics of Iranian Cinema: Aesthetics, Modernity and Film after the Revolution (2011).

“Tehronto” is is free and open to the public. The event will be held at Cinecycle, located at 129 Spadina Ave. (entrance down the alley off the east side of Spadina, just south of Richmond).

Submitted by Daniel Cockburn, MFA candidate, Graduate Program in Film