Leading Iranian Filmmaker to Visit Northwestern Campus

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Pouran Derakhshandeh to attend screening of her films and engage with students and public.

Pouran Derakhshandeh, one of Iran’s leading filmmakers, will visit Northwestern’s Evanston campus from April 15 to April 21, as a guest of Weinberg College of Arts and Science’s Program in Middle East and North African Studies (MENA).

Derakhshandeh will participate in several public events as part of a program entitled “Pouran Derakhshandeh: Women and the Making of the Iranian Social Cinema.” Her visit is supported by the Edith Kreeger Wolf Endowment, which brings scholars and public figures to campus with the goal of highlighting women's successes in scholarship, the arts and public service.

“MENA is thrilled to host Pouran Derakhshandeh on campus and to continue our efforts in bringing world-class filmmakers and artists from the Middle East and North Africa to the Evanston campus,” said Brian Edwards, the Crown Professor in Middle East Studies and director of the MENA Program. “Cinema offers a great vantage upon which to view the complexity and beauty of the societies of the Middle East region. And Iran’s cinema is one of the greatest in the world.”

EVENTS

 Block Cinema will screen two of her films:

• “Hush! Girls Don’t Scream” (2012), which won Best Screenplay and Best Actor at the Women’s Independent Film Festival, at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 16.

• “Twenty,” a film which Derakhshandeh produced and which won the Special Jury Prize at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic, at 7 p.m. Friday, April 17. Both films being screened will include English subtitles. Derakhshandeh will be in attendance at both Block events. For more information, visit www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/view/cinema/.

• A 6 p.m. public reception precedes the first screening on Thursday, April 16, at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus. The Block Cinema program begins at 7 p.m. with a welcome by Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences faculty member Brian Edwards. Following the film screening, Hamid Naficy, the School of Communication’s Hamad Bin Khalifa al Thani Professor in Communication and an internationally renowned expert on Iranian cinema, will lead a discussion with the director. Admission is free and open to the public.

• During her weeklong Evanston campus visit, there will be numerous opportunities for students to engage directly with Derakhshandeh in more intimate settings. She will lead a workshop with students in Naficy’s seminar on Iranian cinema. She also will visit a Weinberg College Persian-language class, where she will discuss her films in Persian (Farsi).

• Further, at noon Monday April 20, Derakhshandeh will be the featured guest at the MENA program’s “MENA Monday” event, an ongoing lunchtime colloquium, where the topic will be “Women and the Making of Iran’s Social Cinema.” This event, as with all MENA Monday events, is open to the public. It will take place in University Hall 201, the Hagstrum Room.

POURAN DERAKHSHANDEH 

Iran boasts one of the most celebrated film industries in the world. Iranian women’s influence in filmmaking has increased dramatically in the decades since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, often through a daring critique of modern Iranian society. Derakhshandeh holds a special place in the history of filmography in Iran: Her film “Mute Contact” was the first feature film directed by a woman released in Iran after the 1979 Revolution. 

She has since gone on to direct 12 feature films and 11 documentaries, winning numerous national and international awards. For more on Derakhshandeh, visit www.derakhshandeh.ir/EN/Home_En.htm.

Derakhshandeh’s visit is a collaboration between the Program in Middle East and North African Studies (MENA) and Block Cinema, with generous support from the Edith Kreeger Wolf Endowment.

In 2014, the MENA program and Block Cinema collaborated on a highly successful film retrospective of work by Moroccan director Moumen Smihi, who engaged with audiences and students. That event drew large crowds and press attention. Crain’s Chicago called the last MENA-Block film collaboration one of that week’s Top 10 Things to Do in Chicago.

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