Masterclass at CineMigrante 18 Sep 2019

HOW CAN AUTOETHNOGRAPHIC FILMMAKING FUNCTION AS AN EFFECTIVE FORM OF TRAUMA THERAPY?

My practice explores the notion of filmmaking as a form of trauma therapy. In many ways this is a theme I have been exploring throughout my life. My entry to filmmaking was in 10 by Abbas Kiarostami, which began when my therapist encouraged me to examine my life. I consequently set up cameras in my car and home, which became the raw footage for the film. Four years later, when I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer I began work on the documentary-fiction film 10+4, not knowing if I would survive the process. During my cancer I had chemotherapy and also film therapy. My camera was like a medicine to help me survive. More recently Life May Be, in collaboration with Mark Cousins, was made in response to my exile from Iran and A Moon For My Father examines bodily trauma and reconstructive surgery after a double mastectomy.

-To date, research on the psychosocial consequences of mass trauma resulting from war and organized violence on children has primarily focused on the individual as the unit of treatment and analysis with particular focus on mental disorders caused by traumatic stress. This body of research has stimulated the development of promising individual‐level treatment approaches for addressing psychological trauma. We could do trauma therapy by our camera. Masterclass @CineMigrante

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My first documentary film in 2003 was about a Kurdish girl, Aysheh, from Sardasht, in Iran, who suffered a strange side effect of the first chemical bomb during the Iran-Iraq war. Her body began to produce clear, bright crystals. They began to grow below her eyelids. They came out of her mouth and her vagina. Though no doctor would diagnose these crystals as manifestations of war, she absolutely knew that they were chemical. Her body was confronted with war and politics. Historical, socio-political, scientific and medical events were present inside her.
From the beginning of my filmmaking I was interested in the relationship between body and trauma. Ayeshe believed that her condition was related to the traumas she experienced during the war, that these crystals were some kind of manifestation of previous pains being expressed through her body.

The first chemical bomb during Iran- Iraq war / ISardasht-Iran .
On June 28 and 29, 1987, Saddam Hussein’s warplanes unleashed chemical weapons on civilians in the Kurdish city of Sardasht in the province of West Azerbaijan, northwest of Iran, killing over 113 civilians and injuring thousands.The left image it is a skin of 7 years boy after chemical bomb attack in sardasht.

Improvised explosive devices are the weapons of choice for the insurgent enemy in Iraq and Iran More peaple are surviving these blast injuries due to improved torso protection yet are sustaining head and neck wounds in numbers that exceed those from previous wars. Although moderate and severe traumatic head injuries are easily identified and aggressively treated, mild traumatic brain injuries (m-TBIs), or concussions, had previously been deemed inconsequential and often overlooked. Recently, however, the U.S. Department of Defense and Veterans Health Administration have placed emphasis on identifying service members at risk for m-TBI because a select number continue to have disabling symptoms that can negatively affect quality of life. Research regarding the effects and treatment of blast injury are gaining momentum.

Mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are considered the “signature injuries” of combat soldiers returning from Iraq and Iran. Both disorders can greatly affect the functioning of soldiers, yet the disorders often go undetected or are misdiagnosed by both military and civilian health care providers.