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Seven Blind Filmmakers

It is estimated that Iran produces over five thousand short movies a year, including fiction, documentaries and experimental pieces. This is surprising considering the private sector’s reluctance to invest in potentially controversial new projects, and the complicated regulations which restrict the topics and stories filmmakers are permitted to present. 

The success of these low budget and independent movies is due to the work of inspired filmmakers who introduce the outsider to an honest portrait of everyday life in Iran. Some have suggested that the films’ ability to confront the social problems within the country, while providing an intimate relationship with its people, will produce the most helpful sources of information for future historians and sociologists attempting to capture life in modern day Iran.

This achievement is certainly apparent in Mohammad Shirvani’s latest project.  Shirvani’s films have always had a particular style of their own, combining some brave content and an individual aesthetic approach.  Amongst them Iranian Conserve (the story of a girl who is trapped in a lift – her only means of communication with the outside world a boy on the other end of her mobile phone), and The Candidate (the story of a woman who searches for a future bride for her son, only to find that he has died in the war).

But Shirvani’s daring and unconventional approach to filmmaking is, perhaps, most apparent with his latest project. After experiencing a dream in which he turned blind he began thinking about how the blind related to his medium. Spurred on by these thoughts he began running workshops for blind women, introducing them to the film making process.

He soon whittled down the numbers from 200 original applicants, to fifteen and then seven. These seven women were then asked to produce films featuring the world as they viewed it on compact digital cameras.  

Now released as a combined, episodic film, the movies have provided an insight into the everyday lives of these women.

First Episode: A Conversation with the Wall, produced by Sara Parto

The story of a young blind woman who lives in Tehran and does everything such as shopping, cooking, playing music, and sewing single-handedly. 

Second Episode: The Death of the Witness, produced by Shokufeh Davarnezhad

The story of a woman who pays a visit to an ophthalmologist after many years. The doctor has gone insane and injects antibiotics into her eyes and causes her blindness.

Third Episode: Fire, produced by Mahdis Elahi

The story of a young woman who makes fifteen thousand matchsticks per day. One day she tells of her lost love to a young man. At first he agrees to play the part, but later he changes his mind and other young men take turns and play the part.

Fourth Episode: Notes from Last Night, produced by Banafsheh Ahamdi

A young Afghan woman talks about her homesickness. She tells of her attachment to Afghanistan and Iran, of what defines homeland, of her differences with her uncle’s family with whom she is staying, and her wish to go to Australia.

Fifth Episode: The Path of Life, produced by Nargess Haghighat

Nargess who has retained twenty percent of her sight talks about her life with her blind husband, who is a religious orator, and her daughter. Nargess and her husband fell in love by hearing one another’s voice at a religious ceremony.

Sixth Episode: Goodnight, produced by Naghmeh Afiyat

The story of a blind woman who is married to a man who has full sight. The woman says that she has been a listener for fifteen years and now she wants the world to hear her through this film.

Seventh Episode: Love, produced by Neda Haghighat

The director of this film withdrew her film from showing for reasons which are not disclosed. 

In the multimedia report on this page Mohammad Shirvani discusses his latest project. We also hear from two of the seven women who have contributed films to the project; Naghmeh Afiyat and Sara Parto.

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