Masterclass with Mania Akbari at BFI Future Film Festival

16th February 2017 

-First documentary Crystal :
In my first documentary “Crystal”. I have consciously got attracted to the story of a Kurd girl, which is producing crystals in her body, from her vagina , eyes, through, her palm and breasts. It’s true that this is a medical issue but I thought this could symbolise an internal beauty that has the tendency to externalise itself. It has been very metaphoric for me about women in geographical On borders of Iran.
-20fingers :
In my film called 20 fingers the talking statues are using closed spaces and various simple moving devices to fight with simple concepts which are basic human struggles.Here the limitations imposed by space and body movements created a new figure. It’s like that their hands and feet are tied but they want to move and improve or go further. It’s like they are inviting themselves to an internal fight or challenge.
– 10+4 :
The film 10+4 is portraying the deformation and sufferings of a body from loosing a feminine part. The female character appears in front of the camera in a masculine way and challenges the gender borders. It portrays the contrast of death and life. The body is posing new questions when it’s having a death like experience.
– 30 min to 6:
In the Documentary called 30 mins to six, people with figures and covered bodies try to express their views about the execution of “Behnam Shojaee”. He has murdered his friend in a fight at the age of fourteen. In this film I try to explore the issue of aggression and fights between bodies in cinema. How cinema can influence society and generate thinking or create the sense of aggression or revenge.
– One-Two-One
the physical deformation of a woman has created beauty and defect simultaneously. A concept that beholds decay and construction in the same time.The statues that are talking regardless of all the atmospheric limitations. They are trying to tell their nonsense stories. There is a deep relationship between the body deformation or destruction and the female beauty. And the effort to reach a new static regarding survival .
– From Tehran to London,
There is a child that is dismembered. the relationship between the body and space in that geographical border takes him to the borders of madness and self- destructiveness. That geography of the film changes with that dis-memberdness and the unfinished film.
-In my country men have a breast
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer and eventually lost my breasts, it was during President Khatami’s when women were slowly getting back on their feet and the talk of gender equality had gained a new momentum. There were new women on the scene, strong and intellectual.But when women seemed more optimistic than before, my illness took me back to the darker days of war. In a sense, I never recovered from the war and the loss. As if the nourishment of my body had stopped in that time or couldn’t continue without the sound of war, chanting, and mourning.I started documenting my body, trying to know her better. But then Ahmadinejad was elected and the space for women again became tight and airless. I was in London when I realized I couldn’t go back to Iran. The hardline media had started a campaign against e and my artworks by calling me a lesbian who is HIV positive, as if the two are the same thing. Again and again, for rejecting a woman and her world, they had used gender and sexuality, and blocking my way back home with the argument that I was slipped from Islamic tradition regarding how a woman should be, act, and live. Reading this text reminded me of Judith Butler’s idea of sexuality as a frame which is defined by each society differently by attributing different roles to its men. When outside Iran, I put together these photographs and films, to be accompanied by the voice of Ahangaran, a religious singer, singing summons and revolutionary songs about martyrdom. And named it IN MY COUNTRY MEN HAVE BREASTS. I was looking for an unsettling effect, to create confusion in my audience regarding gender stereotypes.For me, leaving my geographical borders didn’t result in mental relief. There is an urge in my psyche to save the past . even through the memories are the reason for human sufferings, but it feels like by remembering and preserving those memories , your body and soul feels less that it’s been lost. Therefor in the video art called in “ In my country men have breast” the memories have attacked me in various cruel ways.
-Life may be
In the Film” Mark” I have explored the history of religion, society, history in my country through my body. In fact it’s my body that is writing letter to mark. They are the memories that have been carried by my body. However the pain and sufferings of soul and body of human is not limited to a country or geographical border but it’s a universal subject. And finally I found deep internal relationship with octopus and the way that the squid ink creates a beautiful graphic. It brought me with the realizatdion of how art can create beauty and power out of a horrifying deathlike thing.
My body has served as a metaphor. My body is my canvas.