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August 24-28


REHEARSING REALITY showcases a selection of films that blend fact and fiction, blurring the line between the staged and the improvised. Featuring works by Azin Feizabadi /Kaya Behkalam, and Arvand Dashtaray.

The Negotiation (2010): The Negotiation examines scenarios of political conflict through a staged negotiation in a UN Security Council-like set. The script presents a group of actors with a three-act drama on an unspecified revolutionary situation. They proceed to rehearse and embody both their real and scripted characters — the boundaries between fictional and factual histories, individual and collective desires, projections and biographical backgrounds become more and more blurred in the process. Prompted by the authority of a narrator, the actors discuss, improvise and negotiate the necessity for action. But to what extent can action be thought and performed beyond the inherited dramaturgical patterns?

The Absent Director (2021): In one continuous take, the film follows the various members of a young Iranian theater company during their secret rehearsals of Macbeth at their Director’s home in Tehran, while he works with them remotely from Paris via video call. Their dream is to submit the play to the Edinburgh Theater Festival on time, but things get complicated when their personal conflicts escalate, and their hidden agendas come into light. The heated tensions reach their climax when a mysterious tragedy threatens to put their work into a complete halt. The complex layers of their reality are slowly unraveled as the film seamlessly fuses the past with the present, fiction with non-fiction, even crossing the bridge to reality with the actors performing as themselves.

This program is co-presented by ArteEast and Rooftop Films. This series is part of the legacy program Unpacking the ArteArchive, which preserves and presents over 17 years of film and video programming by ArteEast. In addition to the online screening on from August 24-28, The Absent Director will be screened in-person at Fort Greene Park (August 23) along with short film The Smell of Sex by Danielle Arbid. For more information, visit

Image credit: The Absent Director, dir. Arvand Dashtaray