Curated by Lila Nazemian, ArteEast Special Projects Curator
Featuring works by Shadi Harouni, Daniel Asadi Faezi, Farnaz and Mohammadreza Jurabchian, Elham Hosseinzadeh, and Saeed Dehghani.
Online screening: November 11th – 18th
FREE with RSVP / $5 suggested donation
Screening at UnionDocs on November 10th
Doors open at 7 PM ET
Screening begins at 7:30 PM ET
Ticket Price: $10 (seats limited!)
Address: 352 Onderdonk Ave, Queens, NY 11385
Buy tickets HERE
The screening will be followed by a discussion with Shadi Harouni, artist and filmmaker, and Lila Nazemian, ArteEast Special Projects Curator.
AT THE DISPOSAL OF HUMANITY presents films made in the past two decades that share perspectives from communities on the periphery of contemporary Iranian society. With a focus on some of the many ethnic minorities living in Iran, the films in this program explore aspects of their deep-seated roots to land, relationships to their ecological environments, and their various struggles for justice against systemic oppression.
Set against a stone quarry on the far outskirts of the city of Bijar, Kurdistan province, Shadi Harouni’s I Dream the Mountain is Still Whole (2017), is an intimate conversation with a former Kurdish political activist that transcends temporal specificity. Revealing the evolution of his own political and societal beliefs in parallel to the many arduous jobs he has labored, the former revolutionary furthermore challenges listeners to question humanity’s larger existential struggles in relation to nature and the universe. Harouni’s film anchors the concerns reflected in the works of the other filmmakers in this program.
Many of the ethnic minorities in Iran inhabit the provinces on the borderlands of the state, yet their realities are becoming increasingly important to the overall struggles of the nation as a whole. Smuggling is a means of survival that many communities have resorted to, faced with political and economic circumstances beyond their control. Saeed Dehghani’s Contrast (2007), depicts the lack of opportunities and hardships faced by inhabitants of the island of Qeshm, through the point of view of an Afro-Iranian young boy whose family engages in smuggling goods by means of the Persian Gulf.
In Elham Hosseinzadeh’s Silent Companion (2004), an Iraqi man illicitly traverses the wetlands extending across southern Iraq into Iran, in order to collect a wedding dress for his bride from his extended Arab community. Taking place a year following the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the man faces both American bombs raining down from the sky as well as forces loyal to Saddam patrolling the waters.
Farnaz and Mohammadreza Jurabchian’s Overruled (2016) follows the lives of four Afghan tennis players struggling to live and work in Tehran without papers. Iran’s large Afghan community, often living on the fringes of society without rights to education and livelihoods, primarily consists of over 2 million undocumented laborers, in addition to over 800,000 refugees. Most come to Iran following a precarious journey around the mountainous region separating the two countries.
Daniel Asadi Faezi’s Where We Used to Swim (2019) is a haunting recollection of Lake Urmia, once the largest saltwater lake in the Middle East/Caucuses. Due to droughts, the rerouting of rivers, the construction of dams and the pumping of nearby groundwater, the lake shrunk to less than 10% of its original size. Located in Iran’s Azerbaijan province, Urmia is a symbol of insurmountable ecological and cultural loss.
The films in this program explore aspects of various communities’ relationships to nature, the politics of labor, and social values while simultaneously highlighting their distinct cultural, linguistic and musical heritages. Mountains, deserts, forests, wetlands, lakes and seas have always transcended human-made frontiers. Extracted resources from these landscapes, be they water, petroleum, precious minerals or stones (among many others), rarely benefit their respective peoples who have inhabited the lands for centuries and who cannot be contained nor reduced to nation-state borders. Instead, their continued existence depends on the acute knowledge of their territories and the natural resources at their disposal, which have historically been the target of profit-seeking government forces. This furthermore echoes the ongoing oppression that these communities have faced in their unwavering individual and collective struggles for justice.
AT THE DISPOSAL OF HUMANITY is co-presented by ArteEast and UnionDocs and is curated by Lila Nazemian. This screening is part of the legacy program Unpacking the ArteArchive, which preserves and presents nearly 20 years of film and video programming by ArteEast. This program will be screened online on artearchive.org from November 11-18, 2022. A selection of films from the program will be screened in-person at UnionDocs on November 10th at 7PM ET, followed by a discussion between Shadi Harouni and Lila Nazemian. For more information, visit uniondocs.org.
Image Credit: I Dream the Mountain is Still Whole (2017), Shadi Harouni