At age 30, acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Mania Akbari was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy. This experience became the core of her personal new film “A Moon for My Father” (2019), an essay film made in collaboration with her partner, the British sculptor Douglas White.
A free screening of the film will be held at 7 p.m. March 5 at The Block Cinema, 40 Arts Circle Drive on the Evanston campus. The London-based Akbari will attend and will be part of a discussion with Northwestern University professor of screen culture Hamid Naficy after the screening. The screening will serve as the Midwest premiere of the film.
“A Moon for my Father” explores Akbari’s illness in the context of 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.
The Guardian’s chief film critic Peter Bradshaw gave it a 5-star review and called it “a deeply intimate, personal and moving work from the Iranian film-maker Mania Akbari, whose movies have often been meditations on beauty and body image.” He added that Akbari “reaches for the sublime with a dreamlike film that tries to join the dots between past and present.”
“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,” said Michael Metzger, Block Cinema’s Pick Laudati Curator of Media Arts. “Fearless, poignant, and deeply collaborative, “A Moon for my Father” exemplifies the kind of boundary-crossing filmmaking that Block Cinema strives to support.”
This film represents an ongoing 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.
“A Moon for My Father” premiered at the Copenhagen International Documentary Festival where it won the NEW:VISION Award 2019. The film also received a FIPRESCI International Critics Award at the Flying Broom Festival in Ankara, Turkey.
The Northwestern 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.
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 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).