Iranian artist and filmmaker Mania Akbari brings personal new work to Block Cinema

Block Museum hosts Chicago premiere of A Moon for My Father (2019)

At age 30, acclaimed artist and filmmaker Mania Akbari was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy.  This experience became the core of the Iranian director’s personal new work A Moon for My Father (2019), an essay film made in collaboration with her partner, the British sculptor Douglas White.

On Thursday, March 5 at 7PM The Block Museum welcomes the London-based filmmaker for the Midwest premiere of the new film.  The museum will host a free screening followed by a discussion between the artist and Northwestern University Professor of Screen Culture Hamid Naficy. 

The event is co-presented by Block Cinema with the Iranian American Fund for Cultural Programming and the Middle East and North African Studies program at Northwestern.

Mania Akbari is one of the most unique and daring artists to emerge from Iran in years, and it is a tremendous privilege to host her and her work at the Block. Fearless, poignant, and deeply collaborative, A Moon for My Father exemplifies the kind of boundary-crossing filmmaking that Block Cinema strives to support.

Michael Metzger, Pick Laudati Curator of Media Arts

A Moon for my Father positions Akbari’s illness within layers of personal and national history. Rich in texture and astonishingly intimate, the film presents memory as a poetic, embodied experience. Akbari looks into the connection between her body and the political history of Iran, investigating the relationship between her own physical traumas and the collective political memory of her birthplace.  

This film represents an on-going collaborative project, structured as an exchange of film letters between Akbari and White. Deftly interwoven alongside the letters are family photos, archival footage from Iran, imagery from White’s artwork, and scenes of the couple’s everyday life together. 

Akbari’s provocative, revolutionary, and radical films have screened at festivals around the world and have received numerous awards including German Independence Honorary Award, Oldenberg (2014), Best Film, Digital Section, Venice Film Festival (2004), Nantes Special Public Award Best Film (2007), Best Director and Best film at Kerala Film Festival (2007), and Best Film and Best Actress, Barcelona Film Festival (2007).  The artist’s work has been the subject of major retrospective at the British Film Institute and the Danish Film Institute, among many others. Akbari was leading actress in Abbas Kiarostami’s Ten in 2002, and directed the sequel 10+4 in 2007.

Akbari is exiled from Iran and currently lives and works in London, a theme addressed in her film Life May Be (2014), co-directed with Mark Cousins. The film was nominated for Best Documentary at Edinburgh International Film Festival (2014) and Asia Pacific Film Festival (2014).

A Moon for My Father premiered at CPH:DOX where it won the NEW:VISION Award 2019. The film also received a FIPRESCI International Critics Award at the Flying Broom Festival, Ankara.

“A Moon for my Father is a deeply intimate, personal and moving work from Mania Akbari (whose movies have often been meditations on beauty and body image), a form of digressive-poetic cinema, connecting images and ideas in a dream-associative logic. Calmly, almost miraculously, it avoids the tones of tension or trauma or ostentatiously courageous humor” wrote critic Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian.

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