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Artists for Woman, Life, Freedom Film Screening & Panel

Sun 12 Nov, 11.30am - 2.45pm

Join us for an afternoon of film screenings from female Iranian filmmakers.

This event is followed by a panel discussion and Q&A surrounding the urgent situation in Iran, Iranian women in film, and navigating the art world and film industry as a woman from the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa). The panel will include the filmmakers featured in this screening, in conversation with academic, artist and curator, Dr. Azadeh Fatehrad.


11.30am: Introduction

12.00 – 1.10pm: Screenings

Windcatcher & Gargoyles (2022, 20’), dir. Nikta Mohammadi
The Sparrow is Free (2020, 15’), dir. Niki Kohandel
Light Leaks Through My Wounds (2023, 6’), dir. Roya Keshavarz
I’m Trying to Remember  (2021, 15’), dir. Pegah Ahangari
Irani Bag (2021, 8′), dir. Maryam Tafakory

1.10 – 1.30pm: Break

1.30 – 2.30pm: Panel Discussion and Q&A

Artists for Women, Life, Freedom

On 16 September 2022, a young woman in Iran, Jina Mahsa Amini, was detained and later died in the custody of Iran’s Morality Police, for the ‘inappropriate’ way she wore her hijab or headscarf. This tragic death sparked mass protests across Iran, with hundreds of thousands of Iranians uniting in a call for freedom for women and an end to Iran’s authoritarian regime which, by law, restricts women’s rights.

These protests have been the biggest and most significant uprising against the government of Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Woman, Life, Freedom – Zan, Zendegi, Azadi in Persian, and Jin, Jîyan, Azadî in Kurdish – was coined by Kurdish women freedom fighters in the late twentieth century. It was adopted as the slogan of the 2022 protests and has become the name of the movement.

As art, photography, music and film surrounding these protests were shared online. visual art became a powerful tool of creative resistance. Artists for Woman Life Freedom is an initiative conceived by artist Koushna Navabi and producer Jimi Lee, that supports the creation and display of public artworks made by Iranian artists to raise awareness of the courageous Iranians battling for their human rights. The campaign places striking images of dissent and resistance in public places across the UK and internationally in partnership with art institutions

Artworks created by four Iranian artists – Hadi Falapishi, Koushna Navabi, Anahita Razmi and Abbas Zahedi – who live outside of Iran are currently on display at The Hepworth Wakefield.

Biographies and Film Synopses

Windcatcher & Gargoyles (2022, 20’) directed by Nikta Mohammadi

Windcatcher & Gargoyles follows a rambler up and down a staggered, twisting path ending up in strange and unexpected destinations. Combining elements from Iranian, Islamic and Gothic horror literature together with local myths and legends from Calderdale, West Yorkshire. Mohammadi has created new myth actin or a crooked mirror reflecting on the ghostly imprints of the past, migrants create on foreign landscapes.

Nikta Mohammadi is an Iranian artist and filmmaker, based in Yorkshire. She works with moving- image, performance, sound and text. Her practice is rooted in her  dreams. It examines the relationship between personal and political, outside and inside, private and public, documentary and fiction.

The Sparrow is Free (2020, 15’) directed  by Niki Kohandel

Through a window into the life of the filmmaker’s grandmother, the film explores gender roles in early 20th-century Iran. As a young girl, marriage to her older cousin leads to years of control and frustration. Rebelling against her husband, she eventually relocates to France with her sons, building a new life. The film weaves her experiences together into a broader narrative of self-determination. She carves out her independence in Paris and finds comfort in the everyday. A simple kind of happiness follows; the sparrow is free.

Niki Kohandel is an artist, filmmaker and facilitator based in London. Working at the interplay between the analogue and the digital, she uses obsolete recording devices and her imperfect knowledge of languages to document stories and re-narrate her family’s tales.

I Am Trying to Remember: Ghosts of the Iranian Revolution (2021, 15’) directed by Pegah Ahangarani

This documentary short uses family photos and archival footage to tell the story of a dark moment in modern Iranian history, a blend of footage of the Iranian Revolution with the filmmaker’s own personal memories. She says this is a “reminder that what happened then is happening today, and that we should not be indifferent.”

Pegah Ahangarani is an Iranian actress, film director and musician. She has directed nine documentaries and acted in over 40 feature films, which have been screened at renowned festivals worldwide.

Light Leaks Through My Wounds (2023, 6’) directed by Roya Keshavarz

During the rise of the Woman, Life, Freedom movement in Iran, many young Iranian women were attacked. This film tells the story of a 16-year-old girl from Isfahan who was targeted by the Iranian revolutionary guard and lost sight in one eye. This aims to shed led on the horrors committed under Iran’s authoritarian regime and highlight the resilience of Iranian women.

Roya Keshavarz  is an Iranian artist, filmmaker and disability rights activist based in Brussels. Through her work, she explores the presence of the body in society, with a focus on disability.

Irani Bag (2021, 8′) directed by Maryam Tafakory

This split-screen video essay deconstructs the depiction of a seemingly innocent object—the handbag—in order to propose a textual and political analysis of censorship and intimacy in post-revolution Iran. Irani Bag invites the spectator to reconsider the relationship between sight and touch.

Maryam Tafakory [b. Shiraz/Iran] works with film and performance. She has an ongoing body of video essays in dialogue with post-revolution Iranian cinema. Screenings of her work include MoMA, Cannes’ Directors Fortnight, NYFF, Locarno, TIFF, FICUNAM, Oberhausen, and Anthology Film Archives, amongst others.