Two Essays In Search of an Art Against Rape Culture 2016
This two-channel sound installation takes as a point of departure a conversation between Akbari and Granados on the relationship between art and rape culture. The two essays contained in the work are spoken in the voices of the artists. These voices carry the traces of their variously gendered and racialized bodies (female, Iranian, Guatemalan, queer) and draw on their shared language: the training in the visual. The work creates parallel meditations on the possibility of an art against rape culture. The artists quote and discuss a wide variety of art historical and contemporary works, as well as feminist and queer theory, in order to question visual culture’s complicity with and resistance to sexual violence. The artworks referenced range from the problematic to the liberatory, asking the listener to ponder images and ideas by Ana Mendieta, Rebecca Belmore, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Ricky Varghese, Antonio da Correggio, and Paul Gauguin.
Roya Akbari’s previous two short films Only Image Remains (2014) and Dancing Mania (2012) engaged the personal documentary form with specific attention to the context and production conditions of Iranian cinema. In Dancing Mania, she follows the making of her sister’s featureFrom Tehran to London (2012), threading together her own questions and interpretation of what is occurring within the film. The result is a parallel trajectory that explores the play of symbolic meanings invented in a cinema constrained by strict conditions of control. In Only Image Remains she takes as a point of departure her off-screen role in Abbas Kiarostami’s Ten, and proceeds from there to weave in interviews from prominent contemporary Iranian directors on the historical roots of cinema in Iran. In her thesis film, Dropping Off the Face of the Earth(2015), she shifts her attention to her own transnational life and subjectivity as an Iranian immigrant to Canada.
In a studio visit last year, she described being struck by the beauty of the landscape in British Columbia when she first arrived and feeling a sense of solace in the tranquility of the natural environment that was in deep contrast to the place she was leaving. As a young art student, this portrait quickly unraveled for her as she began to see, through artworks by Aboriginal artists such as Dana Claxton and Rebecca Belmore, that her new home was also underwritten by a trajectory of violence that had not been visible to her before. Thus through the medium of an essay film, Akbari attempts to grapple with the complexity of her forming relationship to Canada with this new knowledge in mind.
Dropping Off the Face of the Earth 2015
Only Image Remains 2014
Only Image Remains, received its international premiere at Edinburg International Film Festival (EIFF)
"Starting with her own memories of working as an actress on Abbas Kiarostami's Ten, filmmaker Roya Akbari proceeds to elicit other testimonies on the masters of Iranian cinema from three people who are themselves among the foremost Iranian directors: Rafi Pits on Parviz Kimiavi, Amin Naderi on Sohrab Shahdid Saless; and Bahram Beyzai on Arby Ovanessian. Beyzayi also analyses Haji Agha, The Cinema Actor (1933) by Ovanes Ohanian, considered the first feature film made in Iran."
Written by Chris Fujiwara, Former director of EIFF
Dancing Mania 2012
Dancing Mania is a short documentary on the latest film by Mania Akbari titled, From Tehran to London. The documentary serves as a visual essay that delves into a critical analysis of the themes of dance, death, and devastation that play a significant role in Mania’s film. The film also follows Mania’s journey in making this film, beginning first in Tehran and ending in London, as political circumstances force her to leave Iran for good.