Tag Archives: Video

Iran’s Fajr International Festival of Visual Arts: Exhibition

The 8th Fajr International Festival of Visual Arts displayed at Saba Art and Cultural Institute works by over 200 Iranian and foreign artists coming from different countries including Tunisia, Pakistan, Turkey, Italy, Cuba and Kyrgyzstan.

The Niavaran Cultural Center hosted a side-section exhibit of calligraphy and miniature works under the title “Fajr and National Art” and a selection of documentaries focusing on different visual arts including painting, sculpture, miniature, pottery and ceramics was screened at the Saba Institute as well as at the cinematheque of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art.

A day dedicated to Mexican art, organized in collaboration with the Mexican Embassy, included thirty five lithographies by José Guadalupe Posada (1852–1913), considered the precursor of Mexican folk art, photos by Tina Modotti (1896-1942) that reflect the struggle of the less privileged of the post-Mexican Revolution period and sculptures by Gabriela Rodríguez, fifteen pieces commemorating the International Year of Light, celebration promoted by Mexico at the United Nations.

Short video by PressTV dedicated to this year’s Fajr International Festival of Visual Arts:

Sources: Mehr News Agency (MNA) 1, MNA 2, IRNA 1, IRNA 2, Honar Online 1, Honar Online 2, Financial Tribune, Tehran Times 1, Tehran Times 2, El Universal (in Spanish)

Chaharshanbe Suri – Ancient Iranian Fire Festival (Photos)

Chaharshanbe Suri is an ancient ceremony dating back to at least 1700 BCE. Iran’s largest dictionary, Dehkhoda, describes it as: “A festival arranged on the last Tuesday evening of the old year, where you light fires and jump over them, to achieve happiness and good health in the New Year.”

The celebration usually starts in the evening and people leap over the flames, singing “zardi-ye man az toh, sorkhi-ye toh az man”, literal translated as “my yellow is yours, your red is mine”, asking the fire to take their pallor, sickness, and problems and in turn give them redness, warmth, and energy.

Traditionally, it is believed that the living were visited by the spirits of their ancestors on the last day of the year. Many people specially children, wrap themselves in shrouds symbolically reenacting the visits. By the light of the bonfire, they run through the streets banging on pots and pans with spoons (“Gashog-Zani”) to beat out the last unlucky Wednesday of the year, while they knock on doors to ask for treats. Sometimes the treat is a mixture of seven dried nuts and fruits (pistachios, roasted chic peas, almond, hazelnuts, figs, apricots, and raisins) and is called “Ajeel-e Chahar Shanbeh Suri”. The practices are very similar to Halloween, which is a Celtic version of similar festivals celebrated throughout the area in ancient times.

Photos: Chaharshanbe Suri in Iran, 2016

Families customarily enjoy snacks during the evening and a supper at night after the end of the festivities. In Ker­man and Shiraz the main dish is usually polow with pasta soup (“ash reshte“); the longer the pasta strands, the better the chances for a long life for each member of the family.

The ancient Iranians celebrated the last 10 days of the year in their annual feast of all souls, Hamaspathmaedaya (Farvardigan). They believed Foruhars (faravahar), the guardian angels for humans and also the spirits of dead would come back for reunion. These spirits were entertained as honored guests in their old homes, and were bidden a formal ritual farewell at the dawn of the New Year. The ten-day festival also coincided with festivals celebrating the creation of fire and humans. Flames were burnt all night to ensure the returning spirits were protected from the forces of Ahriman. This was called Suri festival. Zoroastrians today still follow this tradition.

The celebration was not held on this night before Islam and might be a combination of different rituals to make them last. Wednesday is likely to have been prompted by an Arab superstition where it represents a bad omen day with unpleasant consequences. This is contrary to Zoroastrian cosmology where all days were sacred and named after a major deity. By celebrating in this manner Iranians were able to preserve the ancient tradition. The festival is celebrated on Tuesday night to make sure all bad spirits are chased away and Wednesday will pass uneventfully.

Today, there is no religious significance attached to it any more and is a purely secular festival for all Iranians (Persians, Azerbaijani people, Armenians, Kurdish people, Assyrians, Bahá’í, Jews, Christian and Zoroastrians). The night will end with more fire works and feasts where family and friends meet and enjoy music and dance.

Chaharshanbe Suri in Tehran, Iran – 2016

Fire Festival in Sweden
In Gothenburg, Stockholm and Malmö, Sweden they celebrate Eldfesten, a Swedish version of the Persian Chaharshanbe Soori. This year, 2016, is the 25th anniversary of the festival in the city of Gothenburg, where it has become one of the most popular public cultural celebrations in the city. Thousands of people, including non-Iranians, attend each year to celebrate the arrival of spring with crackling fires, music, fireworks and fragrant Persian dishes.

Photos: Eldfesten 2016 in Sweden

Sources: Iran Chamber Society, Enciclopædia Iranica, Wikipedia | Chaharshanbe Suri, IRNA 1, IRNA 2, IRNA 3, IRNA 4, IRNA 5, ISNA 1, ISNA 2, Mehr News AgencyFacebook | Eldfesten 2016, Göteborgs-Posten, goteborg.com, Huffington Post Canada

‘The President’, a film by awarded Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf

Director: Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 2014, Georgia, /France/UK/Germany, 105 minutes,
Cast: Misha Gomiashvili, Dachi Orvelashvili
Festivals: Venice Film Festival, Busan International Film Festival, Warsaw International Film Festival

More info about director Mohsen Makhmalbaf: click here

Persian Film Festival Australia Iran Sidney Movie Trailer The PresidentPlot: In an imaginary village in the Caucasus, a President is on the run with his five-year-old grandson following a coup d’état. The two travel across the lands that the President once governed. Now, disguised as a street musician to avoid being recognized, the former dictator comes into contact with his people, and gets to know them from a different point of view.

The President and his family rule their land with an iron fist, enjoying lives of luxury and leisure at the expense of their population’s misery. When a coup d’état overthrows his brutal rule and the rest of his family flees the country by plane, The President is suddenly left to care for his young grandson and forced to escape. Now the country’s most wanted fugitive with a bounty on his head, The President begins a perilous journey with the boy, criss-crossing the country to reach the sea where a ship waits to bring them to safety. Posing as street musicians and traveling together with the people who suffered for years under the dictatorship, the fallen President and the innocent child will be exposed first hand to the hardships that inspired unanimous hatred for the regime.


Sources: http://www.iranianfilmfestival.org/all-date-list/the-president/ , Youtube

Iran’s Pallet band launches concert tour in US

Iran’s Pallet music band has launched its new international concert tour with a successful performance in the US city of Portland. The group went on stage in Portland, Oregon on September 11. The tour will continue with concerts in 11 other US cities and wrap up in Washington D.C on October 4.

Iran's Pallett-music-band-US-tourAccording to bandleader and clarinetist Rouzbeh Esfandarmaz, Pallet will perform pieces from its two albums ‘Mr. Violet’ and ‘Tehran, Smile.’

Vocalist Omid Nemati, cellist Mahyar Tahmasebi, guitarist Kaveh Salehi and double-bass player Dariush Azar accompany Esfandarmaz during the tour.

The fusion band Pallet has held many concerts in Iran and other countries such as France, Germany, Sweden, Italy and the Netherlands.

More songs from Pallet: http://www.last.fm/music/Pallet+Band

Source: Payvand | News, Youtube.com

4th Persian Film Festival in Sydney, Australia, from September 3rd to 6th, 2015

The 4th Persian Film Festival is on from September 3rd to 6th at Palace Norton Street Cinemas, showcasing the best of Iranian cinema and the Persian speaking world. Over four days the festival offers its viewers a great line-up of 22 films including features, documentaries, short films and animations, and Q&A sessions with filmmakers from Iran, USA and Australia.

The festival is hosting a free screening of a number of award winning short films and animations from across Iran and from Iranian filmmakers in Australia, including the screening of Oscar nominated Simorgh by Meghdad Asadi, and current official selection at MIFF 2015 The Phoenix by Nora Nasiri, as well as, Sydney based filmmaker’s How Can Be Both by Saeed Sourati.

The displayed Movies and their directors are:

The President by Mohsen Makhmalbaf
A Few Cubic Meters of Love by Jamshid Mahmoudi
Block 9 Exit 2 by Alireza Amini
The Ride (Darbast) by Ali Khameparast Fard
I Want To Be A King by Mehdi Ganji
Impression-xps160 by Tiyam Yabandeh

Other films are:

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Ranging in subject matter and style, the films offer short glimpses into contemporary and important social and cultural issues.

Opening Film: The President by Mohsen Makhmalbaf

Opening Film: The President by Mohsen Makhmalbaf

Other posts about Iranian cinema and its stars: click here

Sources: Persian Film Festival, Persian Film Festival | Free sessions, Persian Film Festival | Directors, Persian Film Festival | Movies

Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian: First Iranian artist to have a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim, New York

Farmanfarmaian, now 92, is a renowned Iranian visual artist known for her geometric style and mirror sculptures. She became the first Iranian artist to have her work featured in a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim; a retrospective, spanning four decades of work: “Infinite Possibility: Mirror Works and Drawings 1974–2014”, organized by the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto, Portugal.

In 2011, Vogue — where she worked early on as a freelance illustrator — featured her when she was the subject of an art book. “Whatever time I have left, I want to make art,” she said in the Vogue interview. “And I hope it will be worthwhile to see it.”

Contemporary Iranian art has a decades-long history in the West — though artists are now exhibiting their work with increasing frequency in the United States and Europe.

From September 2013 to January 2014, the Asia Society in New York exhibited Iran Modern. The show featured a diverse body of work from numerous artists that spanned the three decades leading up to the revolution of 1979.

In January and February of this year, the Taymour Grahne Gallery presented Traveling Demons, a collection of colorful and haunting pieces by Malekeh Nayiny, who was born in Tehran and currently lives in Paris.

And while Farmanfarmaian’s work was at the Guggenheim, the works of famed sculptor Parviz Tanavoli was on display at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College. Like Farmanfarmaian, Tanavoli is also the first Iranian artist to have a solo show at that space.

Shiva Balaghi co-curated the Tanavoli exhibition, and is a visiting scholar in Middle Eastern studies at Brown University. As one of the few academics in the country who specializes in Middle Eastern art history, Balaghi is quick to debunk notions of an Iranian art renaissance in the U.S., despite its recent popularity in the American art world.

“A reemergence is not really true,” she told BuzzFeed News. “The fact that there’s a growing interest in the West is key, not that this art hasn’t been made before.” Balaghi’s theory is that art institutions are beginning to look beyond Iran’s current political climate and explore the country through its art.

“It’s almost like museums are taking on this cultural diplomacy role,” she said. “There’s a cultural life in that country that continues and flourishes, one that doesn’t have to do with nuclear negotiations.”

Related articles to Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian:
Iranian Roots | Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian – Iranian Artist (Bio)
The Huffington Post | 90-Year-Old Iranian Artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian Gets Her First Comprehensive U.S. Exhibition
The Guardian | Infinite Possibility: Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian

Source: BuzzFeed News | This Iranian Artist Is Making History At The Guggenheim

Video: Impressions of US musician Bob Belden on Iran

The audience members in Tehran’s Vahdat concert hall rose from their seats, clapping wildly as the frontman Bob Belden, a fun-loving New Yorker with a predilection for loud shirts, rested his soprano saxophone on a nearby stand.

“We love you Bob!” someone shouted in English from the balcony after Mr. Belden, 58, finished his third song of the night. A Grammy Award-winning producer, composer and jazz performer, he smiled broadly. “It is an utter honor to be here in Iran,” Mr. Belden said, drawing even more cheers.

The concert last Friday was the first by an American musician in Iran since the 1979 revolution.

View Bob’s impressions on Video (Playlist: 4 short videos – keep on watching):

Officials from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance sat in the front row, nodding their heads to renditions of tunes by Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and Mr. Belden’s own compositions. The Iranians who filled the 1,200-seat theater clapped and cheered. They recorded video with their mobile phones of Mr. Belden and his four bandmates, who did little to suppress their own enthusiasm, waving, smiling and taking their own pictures of the audience.

The Tehran gig was the end of a short, wild tour through a country that officially considers the United States its enemy, but where people go out of their way to please guests, especially when they are American.

“This guy comes up to me, an Iranian; asks me where I’m from. I say, ‘America!’ He says, ‘I love you!’ ”

Mr. Belden said before Friday’s concert. “I tell him I’m a jazz musician. He says, ‘I love jazz!’ ”. “Everybody is nice to us here,” he added.

Source: The New York Times | Rebirth of the cool: American music makes a return to Iran

Women are at the forefront of Iran’s Startup boom

Techly published this article by Mitra Bahrami about women in Iran’s startups:

Last July, the Iranian startup community opened itself up to the Economist to introduce three of its largest internet companies to the world. Less than two months later, Techcrunch highlighted Iran as the next startup ecosystem to emerge. And in the middle of it all, the Iranian-born-and-educated Maryam Mirzakhani became the first female recipient of the Fields Medal, the most prestigious award in mathematics.

Having spent a good part of this past year in Iran and some of it working at MAPS, a relatively young but highly promising and inspiring startup incubator, what surprises me is not so much that this is finally happening, but rather that it took so long for it to happen. Just consider some of these statistics. Iran has one of the youngest and most educated populations anywhere in the Middle East. More than 70% of Iranians are younger than 35, and Iran’s literacy rate stands at 85% (OECD/WorldBank), a number that increases to 97% among young adults (aged between 15 and 24), without any gender discrepancy and well ahead of the regional average of 62%. Iran’s rigorous education system and college entrance exams filter the best and brightest for its leading institutions of higher learning, where only 10% make it to the highly selective public universities. Maryam Mirzakhani was the product of this system, and her Alma Mater, Sharif University, continues to inch upwards in the rankings among the world’s very best.

Another secret that is gradually bubbling to the surface is that women are at the forefront of this technological breakthrough.


60% percent of college graduates in Iran are women, many of them trailblazers in their own right. Satratech, a MAPS startup, is a predominantly female-run operation having 8 of its 12 engineers as well as its co-founder all women. Shafajoo, its health and medical application, received top honors at the 6th annual Iranian web show in 2014, AND the software gained its 100,000th user within 6 months of its launch. Just this past month, Iran held its first startup weekend for women, one of a handful of countries to ever do so.

There are of course many challenges facing the high-tech community in Iran, challenges such as the US-imposed sanctions, the internal censors, and the continuing brain drain. But these have been a part of life in the country for a long time now, and the Iranians have managed to make their headways despite these problems. In many ways, these challenges have made them more resilient, more resourceful, more creative. Despite the sanctions for instance, you can find any high-tech consumer item you wish in Iran as a visit to Payetakht will attest to. The internal censors have made it inconvenient, and at times difficult to access many sites or to connect to the outside world, but by one account up to 70% or Iranians bypass government filters, a realization that may finally be encouraging the government to ease up the restrictions. And even though the brain drain must be felt on many levels in Iran, it hasn’t stopped the country from embracing internet banking, mobile bill-pay, and the spread and wide use of technology in a host of areas. In fact Iran has one of highest numbers of internet users in the world, ranking 13 when those numbers are taken as a percentage of population, well above, China, Russia, India, Brazil and Turkey.

Outside the country Iranians have cemented their reputation as pioneers in science and technology and by the looks of it, they are doing the same inside. Yes, the road inside has been more challenging with many more ups and downs, but Iranians seem to be overcoming them one by one. Iran is coming online as a high-tech powerhouse. The big question is, how far will it go, and how fast.

Mitra is an independent Communications Coach based in Silicon Valley, specializing in business writing and cultural aspects of communication. She is the founder of the Writing Academy in Palo Alto and has worked closely with Stanford University on a variety of writing and communications courses geared towards their international graduate students and visiting scholars. Prior to her teaching career Mitra was a producer at KRON TV in San Francisco where she was nominated for an Emmy (2007). Mitra started her career in Silicon Valley in 1980 as a technical writer and trainer in the high-tech industry (Cromemco, ASK Computers, Visicorp, SPC, Intuit). She has a BA in Linguistics and Sociology from University of York, UK (1980).

Source: techly – Iran Tech & Startup Scene News | Iranian Startups, Unveiled

German animation “Virtuoso Virtual” wins in Tehran International Animation Festival 2015

The 9th Tehran International Animation Festival was held from March 8 to 12. Over 130 works from across the globe were screened at the event.

German animation “Virtuoso Virtual” directed by Thomas Stellmach and Maja Oschmann has won the top prize in the International section of the 9th Tehran International Animation Festival, the organizers announced on Thursday.

“Virtuoso Virtual” shows some modest drawings that seem to come from nowhere. Following a secret choreography, they take on characteristics and moods of the music and narrate a story that appears to be laid out in the music.

The second prize went “All the Winters I Haven’t Seen”, Iranian animator Omid Khoshnazar’s acclaimed anti-war animation.

It tells the story of a pregnant woman in New York City who discovers that her fetus suffers severe physical defects. Totally unaware of the problem, the mother finds that she has been exposed to chemical weapons, a matter entirely absent from her medical records.

“Coda” directed by Irish animator Alan Holly received the third prize. “Coda” is about the afterlife. It shows some exotic experiences and the possibility of forgiveness.

Iranian animator and writer Mehdi Alibeygi was presented with the special jury award for his surreal short film “Changeover”.

“My Mom Is an Airplane” directed by Yulia Aronova from Russia was crowned best film in the About Children Section.

Award Title Winner Country
1 Golden Statue for the best animation Virtuoso Virtual Thomas Stellmach and Maja Oschmann Germany
2 Silver Statue for the second animation All winters that I haven’t seen Omid Khoshnazar Iran
3 Bronze Statue for the third animation Coda Alan Holly Ireland
4 Golden Statue for the best animation on the theme of children and young adults My Mum Is an Airplane Yulia Aronova Russia
5 Golden Statue for the best student animation Carn Jeff Le Bars France
6 Golden Statue for the best TV production Kung Fu Bunny (Kitchen War) Zhiyong Li China
7 Golden Statue for the best commercial animation Venice / Massi Simone Icaro Massi Italy
8 Special Statue of the jury Change over Mahdi Alibeigi Iran
9 Special Statue of the director of the festival —- Alexander Petrov Russia
10 Honorary diploma Green Fields Benjamin Vedrenne France
11 Honorary diploma Indah Citra Pierre-Antoine Naline, Sarah Feruglio, Maxime Orhnial, Anthony Oliveira France

Sources: Payvand News, Tehran International Animation Festival, TIAF | Photos

Video: The look of Iranian women from 1910 to 2010

Iranian Woman 2010

Iranian Woman 2010

In 1910, women sported monobrows and had pared-down make-up, with a close-fitting hijab.
A decade later, the hijab becomes looser and softer around the crown of the head, reflecting social changes – the Iranian social movement for women began.
In the 1930s, the Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi implemented big changes – starting with the name of the country from Persia to Iran, and banned the hijab.
We can see hair getting more elaborate, make-up becoming heavier and looks that reflect Western trends.
Then the revolution occurs in 1979 and is evident in the sober, black hijab and face devoid of make-up.
But, while these were dark times for many Iranians, hope flourished again with the Green Movement, which sought to bring about political change after the 2009 presidential election.
While the hijab – now mandatory – remains until the 2010 look, it becomes more colourful and once again, a bit looser.

Source: The Huffington Post UK | How Iranian beauty has changed over 100 years

Negar Javaherian – Awarded Iranian actress

Negar Javaherian holds a Bachelor Degree in Stage Design from the School of Art and Architecture at Azad University in Tehran, Iran. She started her acting career in theatre at the age of sixteen. In 2001, at the age of seventeen, she acted in her first film I Am Taraneh, I Am Fifteen Years Old (2002). Since then, she has played in a number of films and theatrical performances.

Her recent films include Howze Naghashi (2013), for which she was nominated for the Best Actress Award by the Asia Pacific Screen Academy (Australia), Here Without Me (2011), for which she won the Best Actress in the Supporting Role at the 15th Cinema Home Ceremony (Iran), Gold and Copper (2011), for which she received the Best Actress in the Leading Role Award at the 28th Fajr Film Festival (Iran) and Before the Burial (2008), for which she was awarded the Best Actress prize at the 11th Osian’s Cinefan Festival (India).

Negar Javaherian performed in a theatrical play The Fourth Wall (2012-2013) which was awarded the Best Performance of the Year (Iran). Two theatrical plays, Ivanov (2011) and Where Were You on January 8th? (2010), went on European festival tours. For the latter, she was nominated for the Best Actress Award at the International Fajr Theatre Festival (Iran).

Best Actress in a Leading Role for Tala va Mes, from 28th Fajr Film Festival, 2010 (1388)
Best Actress in a Leading Role for Tala va Mes, from cinema home ceremony, 2010 (1388)

Sources: imdb.com, Wikipedia | Negar Javaherian

Chinese New Year Festival in Tehran, Iran

More than 1,000 people took part in “Happy Chinese New Year in Iran” celebration in Tehran ahead of the date by enjoying Chinese food and martial arts performance.

The event, organized by the Chinese Embassy, was a chance for the participants to learn about Chinese traditions, such as Chinese medicine with a doctor from the University of Tehran showing the practice of acupuncture. The doctor said the Chinese medical clinic set up by the university receives dozens of patients every day as Chinese medicine has been gaining popularity in Iran in recent years.

Red Dragon, directed by Ahmad Rastgou, and co-produced by Iran and China was displayed at the event and a children’s workshop brought together Iranian and Chinese children through Chinese national games and entertainments. A charity shop presented Chinese traditional handicrafts including calligraphy and Chinese miniature along with fireworks entertained the guests.

Performers from a local martial arts club wowed the crowd with their stunning acts and lion dances. A treat to traditional Chinese snacks such as dumplings and noodles also attracted a long queue.

“This is my first time to join Chinese Spring Festival celebration. I think it’s very interesting. Spring Festival is the most important festival in China. I saw lion dances just now. It’s fantastic,” said a student studying Chinese language at university.

The Chinese ambassador, Mr. Pang Sen and the chairman of the Iran-China Friendship Society officially opened the New Year by painting the eyes of the dragon as a symbol of resurrection of the dragon. Mr. Sen accompanied guests in visiting pavilions designed to introduce Chinese culture and traditions.

China’s Ambassador to Tehran expressed gratitude for the guests and dignitaries in the ceremony and congratulated them on Chinese New Year; “Chinese New Year, like that of Iranians, is the spring and renewal of the life on earth, and is one of the greatest traditional festivities, which is widely celebrated across China with magnificent events,” he told the participants.

Wikipedia on the origins of Sino-Iranian relations:
The Parthians were apparently very intent on maintaining good relations with China and also sent their own embassies, starting around 110 BC: “When the Han envoy first visited the kingdom of Anxi (Parthia), the king of Anxi dispatched a party of 20,000 horsemen to meet them on the eastern border of the kingdom… When the Han envoys set out again to return to China, the king of Anxi dispatched envoys of his own to accompany them… The emperor was delighted at this.” (Shiji, 123, trans. Burton Watson).

In this link you can find a video of this year’s Chinese New Year Festival (with Chinese speaking Iranians): CCTV News Content

Here is a video report of last year’s Chinese New Year celebrations in Tehran (in English):

Sources: IRNA | Photos, wikipedia, Mehr News Agency, CCTV News Content


Nima Javidi: Awarded Iranian Filmmaker (Biography, scenes from Melbourne and it’s premiere in Iran)

Nima Javidi - Iranian Film directorNima Javidi was born in 1980. A qualified mechanical engineer, Javidi began making short films in 1999 and has made six to date: Marathon Paralyzed Champion (1999), A Call for O (2001), The Poor Earth (2004), Changeable Weather (2007), Crack (2009) and Catnap (2010).

He has also directed two documentaries, Person (2007) and An Ending to an Ancient Profession (2007) and more than 30 television commercials.

Melbourne (2014), which he wrote and directed, is his feature film debut. It recently won Best Film at the Cairo Film Festival and Best Script at the Stockholm Film Festival and opened the Venice Film Critic’s Week.

The following video might be interesting for non Iranians, just to see how Iranian celebrities in Iran visited the premier of the movie. Scenes and Interview with the crew of “Melbourne”:

Source: Asia Pacific Screen Awards | Nominees & Winners 2014

Majid Derakhshani: Iranian composer and tar expert

Iranian-tar-musician-Majid-Derakhshani-HRMajid Derakhshani (born 13/09/1957 in Sangesar, Iran) is an acclaimed Iranian musician and composer.

He was born into a family of artists from the Iranian province Semnan. During his studies of string instruments and composition at the University of Tehran, the legendary Mohammad Reza Lotfi became his teacher.

Subsequent to his emigration to Germany he founded the Nawa Musikzentrum in Cologne; the primary and most active center for Persian classical music outside of Iran. In Iran Majid Derakhshani is deemed to be amongst the best on his instrument – the tar. Hence he carries the venerable title Ostad, denoting him as a master of his instrument. His virtuosity has been celebrated worldwide in festivals, concerts, radio and television productions. He is now considered as the best tar player in the world. He has composed for myriads of international musicians, such as the greatly renowned Iranian singer Mohammad Reza Shajarian (Album Dar Khial).

Here a video of his performance with the wonderful Mah Banoo ensemble:

More information and a list of his CDs: wikipedia | Majid Derakshani

More music-related posts: The other Iran | Music


“A Few Cubic Meters of Love” an award winning movie produced by two Afghan refugees that fled to Iran 30 years ago

“A Few Cubic Meters of Love” is a drama on migration and love directed and produced by Afghan brothers Jamshid Mahmudi and Navid Mahmudi who have lived in Iran for the past 30 years. The story of the film is set somewhere in the outskirts of Tehran, where a small factory illegally employs Afghan asylum seekers, who live with their families in old containers or modest shacks in nearby shanty towns. Saber, a young Iranian worker, secretly meets Marona, daughter of Abdolsalam, an Afghan worker. A love story unfolds. “A Few Cubic Meters of Love” is Jamshid Mahmudi’s debut film, which premiered at the 32nd Fajr International Film Festival in Tehran in February 2014. The film won him the Simorgh for best director in the New View section of the festival. “I would have felt bad had we not won any award at this event,” Jamshid Mahmudi said during the review session. “Because we did our best to make the film be warmly received,” he added.

The film is currently on screen at Iranian movies theaters. “The reason behind why Iranian people like this film, is that it is a real-life drama,” Jamshid Mahmudi stated. The film was selected to represent Afghanistan at the 87th Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category, but was not nominated. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fqz41QkdG4c UNHCR about refugees in Iran: Iran is host to one of the world’s largest and most protracted refugee populations. […] The global economic downturn, removal of subsidies, and intensified international sanctions have caused hyperinflation, affected the delivery of basic services, and resulted in a dramatic rise in living costs in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Some 24 per cent of registered refugees are considered vulnerable, a rate that is expected to increase due to the economic situation. […] Sanctions also continue to negatively impact UNHCR’s ability to provide humanitarian assistance in an effective and timely manner. High inflation rates have substantial consequences for both the operation and partners. Comparison: Refugee numbers – GDP (nominal) per capita with richer and bigger regional neighbor country

Country GDP (nominal) per capita in US dollars Number of hosted refugees
Iran   6,363$ 868,242
Saudi Arabia 25,962$ 550

Must read regarding Afghan refugees in Iran: https://theotheriran.com/tag/afghanistan/ Sources: Payvand News of Iran United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees The Guardian

Photo gallery + Video: Rastak – Iranian Band plays in Gorgan

Here you can enjoy them in action:

Rastak a new ensemble for contemporary Persian folk music was formed as an experimental music group in 1997. The group seeks to collect, record and interpret traditional Persian folk music for a global audience, incorporating language, culture and history also merging traditional instruments and forms with contemporary rhythms. The musicians who comprise Rastak have graduated from the best universities in Iran and have done extensive research into Persian folk music.

It all began when Siamak and Behzad became friends on a winter’s day in 1994. Three years later, Siamak and Behzad were discussing the idea of forming an ensemble for folk music based on research, collection and interpretation. In 1997 Rastak Music Group was founded in Tehran. …
2002 marks Rastak’s meeting with renowned musicians in folk music from all around Iran such as: Khalifeh Aghe Ghosi from Kurdistan, Noor Mohammad Dorpoor from Khorasan, Shir Mohammad Espandar From Sistan and Balouchestan, Mohsen Heidarieh from Booshehr, Ashigh Imran & Ashigh Hasan from azerbaidjan, Faroogh Kiani from Khorasan, Abolhasan Khoshroo & Mohammadreza Es’haghi from Mazandaran, Dr. Tekkeh & Ghlich Anvar from Turkemen Sahra. Along with these meetings, Rastak began field recording and collecting folk music pieces. These endeavors prepared the material for one of Rastak’s major productions published under the name of ” minimalism in persian folk music “. These recordings demanded a studio, therefor the group made one.

In 2006, Rastak took new members: Mohammad Mazhari, Yavar Ahmadifar, Akbar Esmaeelipour, Sahar Ebrahim, Sara Naderi, Kaveh Sarvarian and Hale Seyfizade. In addition to the new album, two concerts were conducted which gained considerable popularity.After Majid left and Sara Ahmadi joined the group , Rastak continued hiring educated and versatile musicians in terms of vocal and instrumental skills and capabilities for its international appearances. Eversince this time, Rastak has held worldwide concerts and made numerous recordings.




Another good read is this beautiful travel blog by a german mexican couple who met Rastak accidently while traveeling through Iran:



“Timeloss” by Iranian theater group Mehr to go on stage in New York and Los Angeles

The Mehr Theater Group led by Iranian director and writer Amir-Reza Kuhestani will perform “Timeloss” in the American cities of New York and Los Angeles. “Timeloss”, a fiery story about the passage of time, is another version of “Dance on Glass”, which Kuhestani staged in 2001.

Iranian play “Timeloss” on stage in the US: 16th to 18th January 2015 / Under The Radard Festival, New York 21st and 22nd January 2015 / Off Center Festival, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Los Angeles

The play is an entry to “Under the Radar Festival”, a festival tracking new theater from around the world that is taking place at the Public Theater in New York from January 7 to 18.

The troupe will have their first performance Friday night. They will have three more performances at the Public Theater until January 18. Their next performance will be in the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Los Angeles on January 21 and 22.

Starring Hassan Majuni and Mahin Sadri, the play will be performed in Persian with English supertitles. The play was staged at the Paris Autumn Festival in November 2014. It has also been staged in Hamburg, Brussels, Frankfurt, Geneva and Rotterdam.

Kuhestani is one of Iran’s most successful and prolific playwright-directors. His “Dance on Glass” won international acclaim and toured for four years. He is the first director to win two consecutive awards for the best theater production of the year in Iran for his play “Ivanov” (2011) and “The Fourth Wall” (2012).

Source: Payvand News of Iran

Other interesting related read:
The Guardian | Intimacy, love and separation in contemporary Iranian theatre

Iranian Director Amin Rahbar receives the “Climate Clips Award” at the 2014 International Film School Fest Munich

Rahbar, Amin - Iranian Film Director, Azad University of Central Tehran - Scale (Tarazoo)Amin Rahbar’s animation Scale scooped the prestigious Climate Clips Award at the 2014 International Festival of Munich Film Schools, running from November 16-22 in Germany. […]

“Some 42 films from 22 countries took part in this festival, and my production with an environmental theme was selected among the top three and ultimately managed to win the best film award” said Amin Rahbar to Mehr News.

“Scale is 2-minute long and produced with cutout animation technique. In this technique, flat characters and backgrounds are cut from materials such as paper, or if on a computer, with scanned images” explained Rahbar.

Climate-Clips-Jury (Brigitte Bruns, Veronika Nagelschneider and Beatrice Scola): Amin Rahbar’s enchanting animated film SCALE (in Farsi TARAZOO), shows us the dramatic changes industrialization has wrought upon our planet. Our transformation from an agricultural society to today’s skyscraper-studded megacities is brought to life by the sophisticated and original use of an old and relatively simple technique: paper cutouts. In just one and a half minutes, the clip illustrates how drastically our environment has changed, the severe damage that has been done to it and the current consequences such as climate change. The jury congratulates Amin Rahbar on the successful artistic and technical realization of his film.

Winner: Scale | Tarazoo
The story of human life from the beginning to the beginning…
by Amin Rahbar from Azad University of Central Tehran, Iran

Scale has been previously featured and awarded in other international festivals including Hamburg Festival in Germany, con i minuti contati Festival in Italy, and SHNIT Festival in Switzerland. It has also won the Best Film Award at Iran’s Short Film Festival for Children.

The International Festival of Film Schools established in 1981 is now one of the most important festivals for young filmmakers in the world. About 60 films are presented at the festival annually, and each year approximately 100 foreign students and professors have the opportunity to meet, enter into discussions and share their experiences with each other.

Sources: Film School Fest Munich, Mehr News Agency

Fifi Howls from Happiness: An awarded Documentary on Iranian Artist Bahman Mohassess running in Cinemas now

Mitra Farahani’s lyrical documentary explores the enigma of provocative artist Bahman Mohassess, the so-called “Persian Picasso,” whose acclaimed paintings and sculptures dominated pre-revolutionary Iran. Irreverent and uncompromising, a gay man in a hostile world, Mohassess had a conflicted relationship with his homeland-revered by elites in the art scene and praised as a national icon, only to be censored later by an oppressive regime. Known for his iconoclastic art as well as his scathing declarations, Mohasses abandoned the country over 30 years ago for a simple, secluded life in Italy.


Critics Pick “Addictively fascinating…The lovely meeting of artistic sensibilities makes this doc sing.” -Michael Atkinson, Village Voice

Five stars! “Stunningly multifaceted…surprising and deeply affecting.” – Keith Uhlich, Time Out NY

“Thoughtful, moving…A portrait of the artist as a refusenik, a recluse, a survivor and a stubborn question mark, “Fifi Howls From Happiness” registers, by turns, as a celebration, an excavation and an increasingly urgent rescue mission.” Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

“A fascinating portrait.” – Jay Weissberg, Variety

“The most startlingly unexpected Iranian triumph at Telluride was Mitra Farahani’s FIFI HOWLS FROM HAPPINESS, an unconventional documentary about forgotten Iranian artist Bahman Mohassess. Mohassess, who died in 2010, was a fantastic character, a viciously witty gay guy who cut a stylish swath through Europe and makes wicked fun of his dim-bulb oppressors. In the film, Farahani, gorgeous and stylishly feminine, spars skillfully with the artist, deftly penetrating his defenses through sheer intelligence and knowledge of his work, like Truffaut interviewing Hitchcock.” – Tim Appelo, The Hollywood Reporter

“A joyous celebration of freedom to create, to destroy, to live without regret.” – Lincoln Film Center

“When a film about an artist becomes itself a transcendent work of art.” – Peter Sellars

“Exceptionally clever. The final sequence makes for unforgettable cinema.” – Ken Eisner, Georgia Straight

Awards & Festivals

  • Winner! Buenos Aires Indendent Film Festival 2014 – International Competition
  • Telluride Film Festival- Official Selection
  • New York Film Festival – Official Selection
  • Berlin International Film Festival – Official Selection
  • Outfest 2014 – Official Selection


Tar virtuoso Jalil Shahnaz

Jalili Shahnaz was born in 1921 in Isfahan, Persia (Iran). Shahnaz studied under the supervision of Abdolhossein Shahnazi and Hossein Shahnaz and befriended ney player Hassan Kassai.[2]

Persian classical vocalist Shajarian named his most recent musical group “Shahnaz” in honor of Masetro Shahnaz.[4]

Jalil Shahnaz died in Tehran on 17 June 2013.


  • “Atr Afshan” (tar solo, accompanied by Mohammad Esmaeili, tombak).
  • “Zaban-e tar” (tar solo, accompanied by Jahangir Malek, tombak).
  • “15 Pieces for Tar & Setar” (transcribed by Houshang Zarif). Soroud Publications, Tehran, 2000.


Here is what Shajarian said about him on his commemoration ceremony

“I am glad to come together here again and to talk with the language of heart,” Shajarian said.

“I have been living with the voice of Shahnaz’s tar for years. When he performs it is as if he tells a story. All the motifs and words of his music are of the same nature and narrate a single subject,” he added.

“Few musicians I have seen are able to perform as illustratively as Shahnaz did. Shahnaz was the god of this job. With his instrument, he pictured everything,” he stated.

Shahnaz died at the age of 92 on June 17, 2013. Shajaran said during his funeral, “The master created love and passion inside me. I owe all my achievements to the voice of his tar. He is the only person who deserves the title of master [of tar playing]. Like Hafez, he is unrepeatable. With all respect to tar players, the book of Iranian tar playing should be closed after the death of Shahnaz.”


Related article:


Rick Pettigrew invited as Juror to a film festival in Iran

In December 2013, Rick Pettigrew was invited to Tehran, Iran to be juror at the documentary film festival Cinema Verite. Here is a look at his experience:

About Richard Pettigrew
Currently serving as Board President and Executive Director of ALI, Dr. Pettigrew received his B.A. (1970) from Stanford University and his M.A. (1972) and Ph.D. (1977) from the University of Oregon.

Read more: The Archeology Channel | Richard Pettigrew

World class US and European skateboarders skating in Iran

While skateboarding has a firm footing across major cities of the world, Iran certainly isn’t a name you’d associate with skating. Bridging an in-depth skateboarding video with documentary film, Thrasher Magazine and producer Patrik Wallner venture into Iran for an episode of “Visualtraveling.”

Here, they meet MJ, skateboard enthusiast and skate deck craftsman who takes the crew through the country. Running into their fair share of challenges, the crew of skaters find out first hand what it’s like to skate in the Persian region. Clocking in at just under 30 minutes, the film is a mind-expanding piece that’s definitely worth your while.

Other USA – Iran related articles: The other Iran | Tag | USA

HYPEBEAST | Thrasher Magazine travels to Iran for “Visualtraveling: The Persian Version”

IRAN Documentary Yesterday and Today : Rick Steves

Rick takes us beyond Europe to Iran, a place that’s rich with history… and mystery. Visiting Tehran, Shiraz, Persepolis, and a small village, we’ll get a rare present-day look at some of civilization’s most important historical sites, and a sense of Iran’s 21st-century culture. From architecture and art to faith and everyday living, “Rick Steves’ Iran” offers a rare, candid, and humanizing look at a powerful and perplexing nation. – Rick Steves’ Iran Pledge Special

I was actually scared to go to Iran. We almost left our big camera in Athens and took our little sneak camera instead. I thought people would be throwing stones at us in the streets. And when I got there, I have never felt a more friendly welcome because I was an American. It was just incredible. I was in a traffic jam in Tehran, a city of 10 million people, and a guy in the next car saw me in the back seat and had my driver roll the window. He then handed over a bouquet of flowers and said, “Give this bouquet to the foreigner in your back seat and apologize for our traffic.” […]

”Steves has produced a loving portrait of the demonized country. Characteristic Steves-on-the-street interviews open closed minds to the sophistication of Iranian citizens and their lack of antipathy toward Americans. In one scene, a man in a car pokes his head out the window and says to Steves, “Your heart is very kind.” […]

He wants us to please shed our geographic ego. “Everybody should travel before they vote,” he has written.

Read more here: SALON | The other side of Rick Steves